I have a 20something year old plumeria tree in my kitchen in southwest Idaho in the middle of winter. It didn’t get here because I treated it with tender loving care. In fact, it had a fairly tumultuous beginning because…
A plumeria is a tropical tree. It would not survive the winters in my region. Most of the plumeria trees I have seen have white or light pink blossoms that smell fabulous. A web search shows some very vivid pink or yellow. Those on my tree are white with a touch of yellow in the center.
My tree amazingly had some blossoms in November, but I didn’t get around to taking photos until they were gone.
Where I got my plumeria
When I was in Hawaii those many years ago, I purchased a pre-packaged end of a plumeria branch. I brought it home and stuck it in a pot. Then my little kids pulled it out, because, hey, mom, what is this thick green stick doing in a pot?
This happened several times, but in the heat of the moment, there was nothing as convenient as just sticking it back in the pot. Lo and behold! In a few weeks, it got leaves at its tip!
How my plumeria grew
Over the years it grew to be about 5 feet tall and awkwardly shaped. I didn’t know anything about pruning plumeria trees. It seemed very happy and healthy.
Every spring I would harden the tree off so it could spend around 4 months in the summer sunshine and fresh air. It bloomed throughout the summer in spite of typically getting infested with spider mites once during each summer.
The perfect plant adoption
A few years ago, we had a chance to go live in Taiwan for a while, so I asked another plant-loving friend if he wanted it. He said sure! After we returned to live in Idaho, we visited their house often, as usual, and I got to see how
my his plumeria was doing.
I went home with its flowers in my hair. I spoke to it nicely when it was bald of leaves. But it was his plant and it was happy, so I left it at that.
How I got my plumeria back
Then, about a year ago, my friends were moving to a much smaller home and couldn’t take the plumeria tree. Did I want it back? I had to say yes.
Unfortunately, we ended up moving the next year, and my large plumeria tree simply would not fit in my new (although temporary) house. I decided to finally research how to prune it.
Now I feel silly that I didn’t do it sooner. It was SO simple. I cut back about a third of the branches. Then, on a whim, I trimmed off about 7 tips of the best looking ones and set them in a pot of water.
I didn’t do things as properly as suggested in the video below, but I explain some of why later.
Growing new trees from cuttings
Moving for the first time in 25 years is intense, physically exhausting, and mentally draining. Taking care of planting my cuttings just could not be a priority. They sat and they sat. The water got a bit moldy. The communal pot was far from a window in the laundry room sink.
The original tree was even neglected, because I couldn’t get around to moving it in with me for a couple of weeks. Thus, it was in a house with the thermostat turned down into the 50’s and was barely watered.
Finally, I was able to bring it to the new place and within a couple of days, I bought a bag of potting soil and planted those branch cuttings. I didn’t do anything other than get the potting soil mixed to moist and stick them in.
Then I had 7 little plumeria trees growing in my kitchen! Will I never learn? Thankfully, they are still just branch size. Also, I have at least 4 people who really want one of their own!
What about the leaves falling off?
Amazingly, the branch tips that I had saved in the water-filled pot kept their lush leaves that whole time, only a couple of them showing signs of stress by turning yellow. However, after I planted them in their new soil-filled pots, they lost all of their leaves. (In the video above, I found out I should have removed the leaves right when I pruned them. Oops.)
I didn’t panic, though. I had watched my original plumeria tree lose its leaves nearly every winter. When I watched the pruning video on YouTube, she talked about it being a regular occurrence.
A couple of them have leaves really sticking out now. Most of the others have obvious green growth at the tips. I’m not giving up on any of them.
A south facing window
For now, the original plumeria tree is soaking up the sunlight from the directly south facing window. This window is nearly floor to ceiling and the sunlight comes into the house and hits the leaves. If the house eaves were too wide, this wouldn’t work.
It is tempting to want to grow another plumeria tree for me to keep. Three have gone to new homes. The others will be small for a while yet. I have time to make decisions…