Overwintering plumeria indoors is simple, and doesn’t take much effort. In this post, I’ll show you three ways for how to keep your plumeria through the winter in cold climates, so you can continue to enjoy it for years to come.
If you live in a cold climate like I do, then you know just how unique it is to have a plumeria. But of course we also know that these spectacular tropical beauties won’t survive our harsh winters outside.
The good news is that overwintering plumerias is very easy, and doesn’t take much work on our part. With a minimal amount of time and maintenance, you’ll be able to enjoy them for many, many years no matter where you live.
In this guide, I’ll share all my best tips for how to overwinter a plumeria plant. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and I’ve made every mistake in the book. So I’m happy to share everything I’ve learned so you can be successful.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide…
Plumeria Temperature Tolerance
Plumeria (Frangipani) – also commonly called the Hawaiian lei plant – has a very specific temperature tolerance. It thrives in tropical climates of zones 10 and above, so it doesn’t like the cold.
The lowest temperature it can handle is 32°F, but only for short periods of time. Though it can take some light frost, a hard freeze will kill a small plant, or severely damage a large tree.
Methods Of Overwintering Plumerias
There are three ways to protect and overwinter your plumerias so it will live until spring. It’s fun to experiment, so try all three if you have more than one plant. Otherwise, choose the one that’s most appealing to you.
- Keeping it alive as a houseplant
- Storing it in its dormant state
- Overwintering plumeria cuttings
Related Post: How To Overwinter Plants: The Complete Guide
How To Overwinter Plumeria Plants
Below I’ll talk about each of the three methods for overwintering plumeria in detail. Choose the one that sounds easiest to you, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. If it ends up not being ideal, then try a different way next year.
1. Keeping Frangipanis As A Houseplant Through Winter
It is possible to keep your Hawaiian lei plant alive through the coldest months as a houseplant. Heck, you might even get lucky and enjoy a few blooms while it’s inside.
But in order for this to work, you should move it indoors before the temperature drops below 60°F to prevent dormancy.
If you put it in front of a sunny window right away, it shouldn’t droop or drop its leaves. But if it does drop a few, it should recover quickly.
However, if all of the leaves start dying and falling off that means it’s going dormant, so you’ll need to use method #2 instead.
2. Overwintering A Dormant Plumeria Plant
Forcing dormancy is a smart way to overwinter plumeria. Especially if you don’t have a spot where it will receive daily sunshine.
This is my preferred method, since winter dormancy is normal for them. For me, this is much easier than trying to keep it as a live plant.
To trigger dormancy, stop watering it in the fall and expose it to cooler temperatures. You can leave it outside until it gets down into the 40s°F, but protect it from frost.
The leaves will turn yellow and then brown before they fall off, and that’s normal. Once it gets too cold outside, move it to a cool, dark location inside where you can store it until spring.
3. Wintering Plumeria Cuttings Indoors
If your plumeria is too large to bring inside, you can take cuttings to overwinter instead. This is a good option if you don’t have the space for keeping or storing a full-sized plant.
You can either try to root them right after bringing them indoors, or keep them dormant all winter. They don’t root well in the fall, so you’ll probably have more success if you store them.
To do that, remove all of the largest leaves from cutting, and let it cure (dry out) for several days. Then put it (uncovered) in a warm, dry, and dark location until spring.
Dormant cuttings can survive a few months in storage with no problem. Learn how to propagate and root plumeria cuttings here.
Bringing Plumeria Indoors For Winter
When you’re ready to bring your Frangipani indoors as the colder weather arrives, it’s important to do it a the right time. Follow these tips for best results.
When To Bring Frangipani Inside
Deciding when to bring your Frangipani inside depends on which overwintering method you will be using.
For live plants and cuttings, bring them in before the weather dips below 60°F. This is usually several weeks prior to your average first frost date in the fall.
If you’re planning to let them go dormant, you can wait until the temperature falls to as low as 40°F. But take care to protect them from frost.
How To Bring Plumeria Indoors
Before you move them inside, follow these instructions for debugging them first so you don’t bring in any unwanted pests.
You might also want to prune or cut it back so that it fits in your room. You can safely remove up to 3/4 of the leaves without damaging it or forcing dormancy.
For houseplants, select a sunny spot that will provide ample light. Otherwise for dormancy, place it in a dark corner or room.
Plumeria Winter Care Tips
Keeping a plumeria alive through the winter indoors is not extremely difficult, but there are some challenges. Follow these tips if this is the method you want to use.
You can learn all about growing plumerias here, but below I’ve included some specific winter care tips.
In order to keep them thriving, they need plenty of light. Either place it in front of a sunny south-facing window, or use grow lights.
Keep in mind that even if you are overwintering a live plumeria, they still go into a semi-dormant state during the cold and dark season, so they won’t grow very much.
But if you notice it’s starting to get leggy or reaching for the window, then it needs a sunnier spot, or the addition of artificial light.
Watering In Winter
Just like most plants, this one needs much less water during the winter. Do not overdo it, or the stem could start to rot. Overwatering is the biggest mistake that people make.
So only water when the soil is completely dried out. Use a soil moisture meter to help you make sure it’s receiving the perfect amount.
If you’re storing it dormant, don’t give it any water at all until you’re ready to start waking it up in time for spring.
One of the biggest benefits of overwintering plumerias dormant is that you don’t have to worry about bugs. For live plants, that can be a different story.
Spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale insects are a few of the most common pests that you might experience.
If you find any bugs, use an organic insecticidal soap to wash the leaves. Or make your own using 1 tsp of mild liquid soap to 1 liter of water. Neem oil is also a very effective natural insecticide that works great.
Bringing Plumeria Out Of Dormancy
If you decide to overwinter a dormant plumeria, then follow the tips below to bring it out of its sleep once the weather begins to warm up.
When To Start Waking It Up
You should start to wake it up from dormancy sometime in mid to late winter – or a month or two before your last frost date.
When you begin breaking dormancy that early, it will have plenty of time to get some new leaves before moving it back outside in spring.
Be patient because it can take a month or more before you see any signs of life. Don’t try to force it to wake up faster, just let it happen naturally.
How To Bring Plumeria Out Of Dormancy
All you need to do to bring your plumeria out of dormancy is expose it warm sunshine and give it more water. Start by moving it to a sunny room, and water it deeply.
Let the extra water drain completely from the pot, and don’t give it anymore until it begins to get leaves.
Learn even more about how to bring plants out of dormancy here.
Moving Plumeria Back Outside After Winter
When it comes time to move your plumeria back outside after winter, you’ll probably be very excited. But if you do it too fast, you could wind up damaging or even killing it. So be sure to follow these tips for the best success.
When To Put Your Plumeria Back Outside
You can put your plumeria back outside after all chance of frost is gone in the spring. The overnight temperatures should be 50°F or higher.
To be safe, I recommend waiting until after your last frost date. If there’s a late cold snap in the forecast, then move it into a garage or back inside for the short term to protect it.
How To Move It Back Outside
Regardless of whether you let them go dormant or kept them alive, you need to slowly acclimate them to being back outside again.
They’re used to the less intense light indoors, so putting them into the direct sun right away can burn their leaves and stems.
To harden them, place them in a shady spot outdoors for several days. Then slowly move them into more sun over the course of a few weeks. Once they get used to it, you can put them back in their full sun location.
Overwintering Frangipani FAQs
Here are some questions people often ask about overwintering plumeria. If you don’t see your answer here, please ask about it in the comments below.
Do plumerias go dormant in the winter?
Most of the time plumerias do go dormant in the winter, and this is their natural life cycle. However, if it’s warm enough and they get plenty of light, they will keep their leaves, and sometimes even flower in the winter.
Can I overwinter plumeria in an unheated garage?
You can overwinter plumeria in an unheated garage as long if it stays above 40°F. I keep mine in my unheated garage in the fall to protect it from frost and force dormancy, then bring it into the house once it gets too cold out there.
Do frangipanis lose their leaves in winter?
Frangipanis lose their leaves in the winter if they go fully dormant. Otherwise, they do not drop all of their leaves.
Can I leave my plumeria plant outside over winter?
You can leave your plumeria plant outside over winter if you live in zones 10 or higher. But, if the temperatures get consistently below 40°F outside, then you must bring it indoors in order for it to survive.
How much cold can a plumeria tolerate?
A plumeria cannot tolerate very much cold since it is a tropical plant. Though it can survive brief periods of temperatures down into the 30s°F, it prefers a minimum of 50°F.
When you follow this guide, you’ll know exactly how to overwinter your plumeria so that it outlasts the cold weather. Then, you’ll have spectacular blooms to enjoy again in the spring and summer.
Are you tired of watching your indoor plants suffer during the coldest months of the year? Then my Winter Houseplant Care eBook is just what you need! It will show you how to keep your indoor plants thriving all year round. Download your copy today!
More About Overwintering Plants
- How To Overwinter Tropical Hibiscus Plants Indoors
- Overwintering Caladium Bulbs: Digging, Storing & Winter Care Tips
- How To Overwinter Pepper Plants Indoors
Share your tips and techniques for overwintering plumeria in the comments section below.