Propagating plumerias is a great way to expand your collection, or share your favorite plant with friends. In this post, I’ll talk about different plumeria propagation methods, show you when and how to take plumeria cuttings, and then show you how to grow plumeria from a cutting, step-by-step.
Plumerias (aka frangipani plant or Hawaiian lei tree) are beautiful tropical plants. They grow to be large trees in warm climates like Hawaii, and are popular for their fragrant flowers (which are used to make leis). I brought home my first plumeria cuttings from Hawaii several years ago, and have propagated my plumerias several times over since then. It’s fun and easy!
Plumeria Propagation Methods
There are two main plumeria propagation methods you can use for growing new plants – propagation by seed or by plant cuttings. In this post, I will show you how to grow plumeria from cuttings. I’ll save the seed starting for a future post.
I know it sounds scary, but growing plumeria from cuttings is actually pretty easy. First, let’s talk about when is the best time to try it.
When To Take Plumeria Cuttings
The best time to take cuttings for plumeria propagation is during their active growing season, which is in the spring and summer. Summer is the easiest time of the year to root them too, especially when it’s warm and humid outside.
If you take cuttings too late in the summer, or in the fall as the plant is starting to go dormant for the winter, then they probably won’t take root.
Rooting Plumeria Cuttings In Winter
Plumerias go dormant during the winter, so if cuttings were taken too late they will likely stay dormant and won’t grow roots. However, if you store them correctly, you can overwinter them, and root them in the spring.
Just leave the cutting in the pot, and keep the soil completely dry all winter long. You can mist it with water every once and a while if you want, but don’t overdo it. Then in early spring, give it a good drink of water, and follow the plumeria cuttings care instructions below for growing them.
How To Cut Plumerias For Propagating
There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when cutting plumeria stems for rooting (and for pruning plumeria plants too). It doesn’t make a difference where you cut the stem, so it’s just a matter of how long you want to make your cuttings.
But you do want to be sure to use a sharp pair of pruners, and always sterilize them so you get a nice clean cut. Also, plumerias are very prone to tip rot, so it’s important to always make your cuts at a downward angle so that water can’t settle into the wound.
How To Grow Plumeria From Cuttings
Before you get too excited and stick your plumeria cutting directly into the dirt, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to prepare it for the best chance of success. First, remove the leaves from the cutting. This will allow it to put all of it’s energy into growing new roots, rather than supporting the leaves.
Second, be sure to allow the wound to cure (dry out) before you attempt to root it. This step is super important, so don’t skip it, otherwise your plumeria cutting will likely rot instead of growing new roots. Let it sit in a dry place until the wound is completely cured. This can take several days to over a week, so be patient, and don’t rush it.
Rooting Plumeria Cuttings In Water
A common question I get asked is “can I root my plumeria in water?”. The short answer is yes. However, rooting plumeria in water isn’t always a huge success. Many times, the stems will only rot when placed in water.
If you have plenty of cuttings to work with, then by all means experiment with this method! My preferred plumeria propagation method however is rooting them in soil. So, I’ll stick to that for now.
How To Root Plumeria Cuttings In Soil
When planting a plumeria cutting, it’s very important that you always use a clean pot to avoid any type of contamination.
Also, make sure you don’t use a huge pot for planting plumeria cuttings, otherwise you risk overwatering which will only cause it to rot. I use 4″ pots for rooting most of mine, and once and a while I might go up to a 6″ pot if I’m rooting a larger stems.
- Cured plumeria cuttings
- Propagation soil (I mix my own using perlite, potting soil, and coarse sand – but you can use a succulent soil mix instead)
- Plant rooting hormone
- A clean pot (I use 4″ pots for mine)
Here are the steps for how to start a plumeria cutting in soil…
Step 1: Dust the cut end with rooting hormone – Rooting hormone will help plumeria cuttings grow roots, and also speed up root formation. You can try rooting your cuttings without it, but I find that I have more success with plumeria propagation when I use it.
Step 2: Make a hole in the dirt – Use your finger or a pencil to make a hole in the soil where the cutting will go. If you didn’t dust the end with rooting hormone in step 1, then you don’t have to worry about this step. But making a hole in the soil first will keep the rooting hormone from rubbing off when you stick the cutting into the soil.
Step 3: Put cutting into the soil – Put the cut end into the hole you made, and then pack the soil down around the base of the stem. You want to make sure the soil comes into contact with the cutting, and that it will stay in place. The roots will grow out of the bottom of the stem, so you don’t have to plant it very deep. Just deep enough so it will stand up on it’s own.
Step 4: Wet the soil – Give the soil a good drink, until water starts coming out of the drainage holes. Allow the water to drain completely from the pot, and never allow it to sit in a tray of water. Then place your cutting in a protected, humid location, and wait for the roots to grow.
How To Care For Plumeria Cuttings
To encourage roots to grow, be sure to keep the air around your plumeria cutting humid, but the soil on the dry side. If you live in a humid climate like I do, you don’t need to do anything. Simply leave it outside in the heat and humidity, and soon it will start to grow. Just be sure to keep it out of the sun until then.
But, if you live somewhere dry, or you’re trying to root the plumeria plant cutting indoors, then it’s a good idea to mist it every couple of days with a plant sprayer to keep the humidity level high.
Just don’t water the soil, you want that to stay on the dry side. Damp soil will only cause your plumeria cutting to rot, and you don’t want that. You’ll know roots have started to grow once you see new leaves growing from the top.
How Long Does It Take Plumeria Cuttings To Root
How long it takes for the cuttings to root depends on the environment. If it’s really dry, then it will take much longer for plumeria cuttings to root. But, if you keep them in a humid location, and give them bright light (not direct sun), then they will root much faster. In the right conditions, plumeria roots should start growing in a week or two.
Transplanting Plumeria Cuttings
Once your cutting starts growing and has a few mature leaves on it, then you know it’s safe to pot it up. You certainly don’t need to worry about repotting plumeria cuttings right away, you can leave them in the small pot until they become pot-bound if you’d rather.
The best potting soil for plumeria plants is a porous mix, and they should always be planted in a pot that has drainage holes. They do not like to be overwatered, so it’s super important to make sure to use a fast draining plumeria potting mix. You can use succulent potting soil, or make your own plumeria potting soil by mixing coarse sand and perlite or pumice with general potting soil.
Once your new baby plumeria has become established in it’s pot, you can start fertilizing it to encourage flowers! Plumeria plants can flower starting their first year! You can use tropical plant fertilizer specifically made for plumerias and other tropical plants. Otherwise, some of the best fertilizer for plumeria plants are compost tea (you can get in liquid form, or buy compost tea bags to brew your own), fish emulsion or liquid kelp (don’t use these two indoors though because they are a bit stinky).
Learn how to grow a plumeria plant in my detailed plumeria plant care guide!
Where To Buy Plumeria Cuttings
If you’re ever in Hawaii, you can find plumeria cuttings for sale all over the place. But if not, don’t worry, it’s also pretty easy to find plumeria cuttings for sale online (I bought this red plumeria cutting last year, and it’s growing great!). If you want to purchase them online, just be sure to order plumeria cuttings in the spring or summer for best results.
Plumeria propagation by cuttings sounds like it would be really hard, but it’s actually pretty easy when you follow these steps. They grow really fast too, so once you get the hang of it, you’ll have plenty of new plants to share with friends!
If you want to learn how to multiply any type of plant you can get your hands on, then my Plant Propagation Made Easy eBook is for you! It has everything you need to know in order to start propagating your favorite plants right away. Download your copy today!
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Share your plumeria propagation tips in the comments section below.