Monday, June 30, 2014

Plumeria "Delightful" - I Think I'm in Love

It was love at first sight. All plumeria flowers are pretty but this one captivated me. Its name is "Delightful" and it is. Darker pink buds unwind to reveal petals rimmed in pink which fade to white with yellow centers.
And the fragrance is heavenly; sweet and spicy with a hint of lemon. The scent runs away from you. It's strong at first but quickly fades as you sniff the aroma. It leaves you wanting more. Like eating potato chips, you can't have just one. So you remain, taking sniff after sniff.
Plumeria are tropical trees with thick stems, large leaves and clusters of waxy fragrant flowers. They are common in Hawaii and their flowers are often used in leis. In the right environment the trees can grow to 30 ft tall but some varieties are smaller. In my Southern California area they are deciduous, losing their leaves in the winter. They prefer full sun but can take some shade. Well drained soil is important. Water deeply then let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. They do not like soggy soil. Decrease your watering frequency during fall, and stop watering them in winter. Then in the spring when the new growth appears, resume watering. In the spring give them a high nitrogen fertilizer then switch to fertilizer that is high in phosphate. Feed them every few weeks then stop giving fertilizer in Sept as the plant prepares to go dormant.

The best way to propagate plumeria is through cuttings. I visited a woman last week who has a jungle of white plumeria trees in her backyard. She started with one tree and each time she pruned it, she stuck the clippings in the ground. She said she watered them every few days and about 2/3's of the cuttings took root and grew. Her advise was, "Stick it in the ground and leave it alone." She does not fertilize hers and they are gorgeous. I guess her soil already has whatever it is that the plants need because stepping into her yard is like going to Hawaii without the crowded airport hassle.

I have wanted to add a plumeria to my garden for years. They can be very expensive especially for a mature, multi trunk tree. Knowing that young trees may not bloom for a couple of years, I was looking for a plant with multiple branches, and one that was in bloom.
My "Delightful" plumeria replaced my milkweed which became an aphid apartment building.
Then I found my little one which has my favorite flower colors, pink and yellow. One sniff and I was in love. Lucky for me, it was on sale so it was meant to be. She is delightful.

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