The Best Care for Plumerias During Winter Dormancy

Here is a detailed explanation of how to keep plumerias healthy during winter dormancy, and maximize flowering the following year.

Plumerias are the beautiful tropical trees that produce fragrant flowers in colors such as white, yellow, pink, and red.  Like many Northern trees, plumerias lose their leaves during part of the year, usually a cool, dry season.  Plumeria growers can utilize this natural dormancy when storing their plants during winter.

As fall begins, days shorten, nights become colder, and day temperatures are mild.  Plumerias that have been flourishing all summer are actively growing new leaves, and likely flowers.  They are noticing the shortening days and lengthening nights, and their bottom leaves may be yellowing.  The time is coming for their dormancy.

In all areas of the world where freezing temperatures occur, plumerias must be brought into a location that stays above forty degrees Fahrenheit for the duration of the time that frost is possible.  Although many experts say the plumerias do not need light or water during this time, I have found that the plants do one hundred percent better with a little winter care. 

Ideally, the plants can remain under fluorescent lighting and keep their leaves for as long as possible into the winter storage time.  Even if the leaves drop, lights will benefit the plants because the tips are still green.  Keeping lights over the plumerias will enable the fluids to traverse from the roots to the tips, and the tips will then remain green, supple, hydrated, and alive.

Many experts also say that water is unnecessary during winter dormancy.  Again, I have found this not to be the case.  Perhaps the plants can make it through the winter with zero amount of water, depending on how long the storage is, and how robust the plant, but they do much better with a cup or two of water once a month during their storage.  The amount of water necessary depends on the porosity of the soil, the temperature, and whether or not the plants have an abundance of leaves still on their stems.  The soil must definetely dry out before water is given again.  In fact, if the soil is kept wet and cold, the plant roots will suffer.  Soil that remains permanently damp and cold can kill a plumeria.  Look at the plants because they will tell when they need water.  When the trunk and stems are wrinkled, check the soil.  It will probably be bone dry, and the plant definitely needs a drink, even if its leaves have dropped.  Once the stems wrinkle severely, the tips are at risk of drying out and dying back.  Several months without water means that water and nutrients will not be carried throughout the plant, causing the tips to suffer. 

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