The Q&A Archives: Dropping Leaves On Frangipani (Plumeria)

Question: My very young Frangipani trees sprout new leaves and then they turn brown and drop. I don't over water them, and I've been using Miracle-Gro 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 twice a month, but they don't seem to grow. What should I be feeding them?

Answer: Plumeria, also known as Frangipani, is a popular shrub in the tropics, and an indoor plant in other parts of the world. It has the potential to grow to 6', but it will take a few years to reach mature size.

A potting medium of 75% top soil and 25% peat is satisfactory. Plumeria require at least 6 hours of full sun to produce blooms. Plants should be allowed to dry out between watering, but excessive dryness will result in foliage loss. On the other hand, if the plant is kept in soil that is too wet, rotting may occur.
A consistent feeding program will produce vigorous plants with large fragrant clusters of flowers from May through November. Plumeria require fertilizer high in phosphorus (the middle number). To keep the plant compact, avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen. If desired, there are specialty plumeria foods that can be used. Feed the plant every other week, but discontinue feeding in September to allow new growth to harden prior to winter storage.

Plumerias need a resting period. The leaves fall from the plant during winter dormancy and they closely resemble a defoliated tree limb or a stick. Store the plant in an unheated garage, or other cool, dark location where the temperature remains about 50 F degrees. In the spring repot and bring back indoors, watering regularly. Your plumeria will develop new leaves and flowers during the spring, summer and autumn.

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