Plumeria forum: What do I need to know to put a plumeria in the ground?

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Name: Kyle & Liz
Long Beach, California (Zone 10b)
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Haberdashers
May 3, 2016 8:31 PM CST
Things are looking good here in Southern California, and I think it's finally time to plant our plumeria in the ground -- It had a growth spurt when we transferred it into a bigger pot a few years ago, but it's been back to slow growing and is pretty dang root bound in there by now.

Thumb of 2016-05-04/Haberdashers/264b87

In light of that, I've got a few questions to ask before I begin! For background, we live in Long Beach and the climate is quite gentle. It gets hot (90s) in the summers but we get only a dusting of frost and that only once per winter if at all. There are a *lot* of relatively tropical plants happily sitting outside all year long including many plumeria, some Bird of Paradise and I've even seen some papaya and bananas.

First question, then: when to transplant? From what I've seen on the forum it sounds like now's the time to do the transplant -- Hetty says that they should be repotted while dormant or when *just* waking up from dormancy. Ours is beginning to put out some leaves by now; do you think it's too late for this year and I should wait until next year, or is this the right time?

Second question, when I do plant it, how big a hole should I dig? I plan to put it in that corner you can see behind it in the picture (between the stoop and the water heater, right outside the kitchen window!) and to do that my plan is to break up the soil with a pick and then move some dirt aside to make a hole for the plant. I'm guessing I should try to make the soil level after planting at approximately the same height on the trunk as it is now? Should I break up the soil in a much larger area to give it an easier time to grow into it?

Third, is there anything I should mix into the soil? Perlite, potting soil, mycorrhizae, some sort of fertilizer, or anything else? I know you want to mix perlite and potting soil when planting a plumeria in a pot to help it drain well, but in the ground without anywhere for the extra water to go once it drains through the loose stuff while it gets slowly absorbed by the normal soil of the yard I'm not sure if that'd be beneficial in this case or not.

And finally... despite my laughable attempt to tie the plumeria to keep it straight in its pot it's growing at a fairly severe angle. Should I plant it with the main trunk vertical, or keep it at the angle that it's been growing at? Should I drive a better stake in when I plant it and tie it to keep it straighter? And how much space should I give it on each side? That alcove by the kitchen window is about 6' by 4' with walls on two and a half sides...will that be a reasonable place to put the tree?

Thanks guys!
[Last edited by Haberdashers - May 3, 2016 9:05 PM (+)]
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Name: Gigi
Florida (Zone 9a)
Plumerias Sempervivums Roses Cactus and Succulents Garden Ideas: Level 1
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GigiPlumeria
May 3, 2016 9:32 PM CST
Kyle and Liz, I will attempt to answer your questions but hopefully others will chime in as well.

1) Yes, now is the best time.
2) Rule of thumb for me is hole needs to be twice bigger than the current rootball diameter. depth would be the same as your current depth.
3) You can use regular garden soil but mix it with the natural soil. Hopefully your soil is sandy and well draining. Plumeria does not like wet feet.
4) If it were mine, I will plant it in the center of the hole and plant it as straight as I can possibly make it. I tried to stake and straighten a plumeria this weekend but it was severely crooked that I ended up breaking it. Crying *Blush*
©by Gigi Plumeria "Gardening is my favorite past time. I grow whatever plant that catches my attention." Plumeria Photos http://www.flickr.com/groups/calachuchi_plumeria_/ plant photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gigiplumeria/sets/
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Dutchlady1
May 4, 2016 7:12 AM CST

Moderator

I agree with everything Gigi told you. Make sure it will get plenty of sun or you will be disappointed.
Name: Kyle & Liz
Long Beach, California (Zone 10b)
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Haberdashers
May 4, 2016 9:19 AM CST
Thanks, Gigi and Hetty! I'll let you guys know how it goes. The spot we're hoping to plant it is in a corner, but it's also on a wall with southern exposure, so I'm hopeful that it'll have enough sun.

The soil does not seem to be terribly well-draining, unfortunately, which is why I was curious if I should mix in something like perlite. Beyond the garden soil, should I put any fertilizer or other additives into the soil with my plumeria to help it along?

Finally, as far as the transplant process itself goes, I'm planning to dig my hole, lift the tree out of its pot, gently shake out the root ball, place it in the hole, cover it up, and water it. I've heard for other plants that you want to give them a good soaking after transplanting, but I'm wondering if that's right for plumeria, given how much they dislike their feet staying wet. For the root ball, should I try to loosen it up at all, or just shake it off and replant?

As you can see from that picture, we've got some bark chips spread around as a ground cover / mulch in this area. Should I replace that around the plumeria once planted, or leave it off?
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
May 4, 2016 10:33 AM CST

Moderator

I'm a little worried about the non-draining aspect of your soil. I would dig extra deep and supplement the soil with some perlite etc. It's not that Plumeria hate water, they just don't like sitting in it for any length of time.

Mulch will be fine. I use it in my yard too.
Name: Kyle & Liz
Long Beach, California (Zone 10b)
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Haberdashers
May 4, 2016 10:45 AM CST
Okay, great! Thanks Hetty -- that's exactly the sort of thing that I was wondering about in my initial post.
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
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ShadyGreenThumb
May 4, 2016 7:27 PM CST
Recently I put a plumeria into the ground for the first time. (Imagine my sadness when I heard la Niña will return in the fall Grumbling ) I mixed in some perlite into my soil, just in case. It is nice soil but I, too worried about proper drainage. I loosened up the soil bigger than the pot and just planted the plant, soil and all into the hole. I raised it up some so that the water can drain away. So basically the little tree is growing on a mound. It's been in the ground for about 6 weeks. So far so good. It did fine even during our heavy rains. I fertilize it frequently. It is growing many leaves now.
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uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 7, 2016 9:16 PM CST
Oh lucky you K & L! I wish I can plant in ground! Plumies are such sun loving trees, and they do branch out so got to allocate space for that branching, so not too much in the corner.
Name: Kyle & Liz
Long Beach, California (Zone 10b)
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Haberdashers
May 9, 2016 9:13 PM CST
Thanks, @tarev! @ShadyGreenThumb, that's more or less what I ended up doing, actually! I dug a pretty big hole (nearly 7 cubic feet! Twice the widest diameter and full height of the pot the tree was in before and then mixed perlite and some potting soil in as I backfilled with the dirt that came out of the hole. I brought that all the way back up to the top, increasing the amount of potting soil as I got higher. Then I built a bit of a mound with potting soil and perlite, hollowed out a crater at the top and put the plumeria in. Then I covered that with the remaining soil from the hole and the wood chip mulch that covered the ground before I started.

The tree's about 2 feet from the walls and nice and straight now -- I also sunk a piece of rebar and a pipe into the hole before I transplanted the plumeria, so if I end up needing to tie it I have that option. I'm very excited to see how it does this summer!


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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
May 10, 2016 11:40 AM CST
Take pictures as it grows! Smiling
Name: Kyle & Liz
Long Beach, California (Zone 10b)
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Haberdashers
May 10, 2016 1:31 PM CST
Will do!
Name: Gigi
Florida (Zone 9a)
Plumerias Sempervivums Roses Cactus and Succulents Garden Ideas: Level 1
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GigiPlumeria
May 19, 2016 12:27 PM CST
This will surely form a beautiful tree.
©by Gigi Plumeria "Gardening is my favorite past time. I grow whatever plant that catches my attention." Plumeria Photos http://www.flickr.com/groups/calachuchi_plumeria_/ plant photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gigiplumeria/sets/
Name: Kyle & Liz
Long Beach, California (Zone 10b)
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Haberdashers
May 26, 2016 8:28 PM CST
Here are some pictures! The counter starts when I planted it on 9 May!

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Name: Gigi
Florida (Zone 9a)
Plumerias Sempervivums Roses Cactus and Succulents Garden Ideas: Level 1
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GigiPlumeria
May 26, 2016 8:50 PM CST
Looking great Hurray! Hurray!
©by Gigi Plumeria "Gardening is my favorite past time. I grow whatever plant that catches my attention." Plumeria Photos http://www.flickr.com/groups/calachuchi_plumeria_/ plant photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gigiplumeria/sets/
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
May 27, 2016 9:33 AM CST
Good growing!

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