Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Plumeria, also known as Frangipani is a tropical tree. When I got mine about 5 years ago, it was about a foot tall. I got it late in the season and so it didn't get to be outside for very long. I brought it inside to a cool room with filtered sunlight and it promptly dropped all 6 or so of its leaves. I was expecting that, but still, when you have a nice green plant with a pouf of leaves at the top, it is somehow disconcerting to have them all fall off in one day. I left it there until spring, keeping the soil moist but not wet and pretty much ignoring it. When frost free weather returned, I put it outside. It grew 6 or so new leaves and by fall it had grown about 6 inches. Leaves were still in a pouf at the top of the stem. This continued, with it growing 6-12 inches a year, but never flowering. I bought it because I had heard about the wonderful fragrance and was getting a bit disappointed. After all, it isn't the easiest thing to keep inside in the winter now that it was as tall as I was.

So last winter, or maybe towards spring, something that looked more like a bloomscape appeared. This spring I took it outside as usual, but I had read about 'plunging' the pot (more on that in a minute), and thought I'd try that since the thing had gotten really top heavy what with being so tall and skinny with all of the leaves at the top.

I guess I did something right, or maybe it just had to be a little older, but it bloomed all summer outside. I brought it in about 2 weeks ago and put it on the sun porch, though it will go up to my sewing room once the porch gets too cold. When I went out 2 days ago, there was this lovely flower and at least another bud to go. The nicest thing was that being in an enclosed space with no breeze, I could fully enjoy the lovely scent. I waited a long time, but it was definitely worth waiting for.
I found a website last spring when I was trying to find out how to get my plumeria to bloom. I was sure I was doing something wrong. The site has just a ton of information like: they can grow to 30 feet tall in the tropics - can you imagine how gorgeous that would be, and how good it would smell?, some can have 200 blooms per cluster, the flowers are often used for leis in Hawaii. It will also tell you everything you could ever want to know about growing and propagating them.
Anyway about this plunging thing. They suggested that the plant would be happier outside if you would dig a hole and put the pot in the ground. The plant would also probably like just being planted out, but I wouldn't want to have to disturb the roots to dig it up again, so this seemed like a good idea. It meant that it would stay more evenly moist and I wouldn't have to be worrying about it blowing over. It worked like a charm. I thought it might have sent a lot of roots out of the pot, but that didn't happen. I just lifted it up, wiped off the pot and brought it inside.
On another subject, we lucked out with the rain, getting almost 2.5 inches. Things look so much happier. We even had full grown trees that were starting to wilt. The creek isn't running yet, but I'm not complaining. Weeds are also pulling out much easier than they were during the drought.

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