Friday, June 6, 2014

Welcome to the Tropics: Plumeria

To celebrate my arrival in the tropics (OK, I haven't moved, but to recap, my area has been re-zoned to 10, from Sub-tropical to Tropical), a friend of mine gave me a stick of Plumeria (Frangipani) to grow in my outdoor garden!

If you live in the tropics, it's ridiculously easy to start a new Plumeria bush or tree. You just stick a branch of it in the ground, give it some solid sunshine, water it regularly, and wait....
This is after waiting and watering for about a month and a half. Here's the full bloom....

Mine doesn't have much of a scent, unlike other plumeria that have an intense and unique perfume in order to attract moths as pollinators. So my guess is that this is a hybrid, grown for its beautiful color display.

Plumeria are New World tropical flowers that grow surprisingly well on our dunes.  Tough and gorgeous, they are also grown all over Asia. They are named after French botanist Charles Plumier. The fragrant blooms are frequently used in the iconic leis of the Pacific Island cultures.

Their leaves are sparse, their trunks and branches thick and dimpled. Their abundant, milky sap can be irritating to skin and eys- they are distant cousins to the highly poisonous Oleanders. The rule with Plumeria is to give them equal amounts of sun and water. If they are grown in full afternoon sun in the tropics, they need daily drenchings. If they are grown in partial shade or less tropical climes, give them less water. They like some, but not a lot, of basic fertilizer. Beautiful and odd, I'm glad they are growing well in my garden!

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