The Q&A Archives: Frosted Plumeria

Question: We recently had a cold front and I have a large Plumeria tree. When I came home it was black as coal and the leaves just hung. I would like to know if the tree is dead because usually by now the whole tree has leaves on it. What do you recommend I do?

Answer: If your tree is large and has been growing in your landscape for several years, I suspect the roots are still alive. Plumeria requires a virtually frost free climate and will drop its leaves when temperatures drop below 50?F (10?C). It suffered quite a shock which has probably set it back 4-6 weeks. You can check for damaged branches, or you can just leave it alone and see what develops later this summer. To check whether or not the branches are alive, start at the ends of the branches and scrape the bark with your fingernail; green tissue means it is alive and brown tissue means it is dead. If you find dead branches you can prune them back to live wood. Or, if you just wait, new growth will indicate what's alive and what needs to be pruned. In the meantime, treat the tree as though it were still healthy and alive. Water as you normally would - and hope for the best.

Good luck with your plumeria!

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