Plumeria Species

There is a lot of information you can learn about Plumeria as they are a very popular and well documented plant species. However I wanted to offer you this bite size version or overview version of some of the key factors you will want to know about these fantastic flowering plants now that you own one or are thinking about growing one from seed which is the most fun and rewarding way to obtain one of these plants without it costing you a small fortune.

Plumeria (common name Frangipani; syn. Himatanthus Willd. ex Roem. & Schult.) is a small genus of 7-8 species native to tropical and subtropical Americas.  The genus consists of mainly deciduous shrubs and trees. P. rubra (Common Frangipani, Red Frangipani), native to Mexico, Central America, Southern India and Venezuela produces flowers ranging from yellow to pink depending on form or cultivar. From Mexico and Central America, Plumeria has spread to all tropical areas of the world, especially Hawaii, where it grows so abundantly that many people think that it is indigenous to that island system.

Plumeria is related to the Oleander, Nerium Oleander, and both possess poisonous, milky sap, rather similar to that of Euphorbia. Each of the separate species of Plumeria bears differently shaped leaves and their form and growth habits are also distinct. The leaves of P. alba are quite narrow and corrugated, while leaves of P. pudica have an elongated oak shape and glossy, dark green color. P. pudica is one of the ever-blooming types with non-deciduous, evergreen leaves. Another species that retains leaves and flowers in winter is P. obtusa; though its common name is "Singapore," it is originally from Columbia.  Frangipani can also be found in Eastern Africa, where they are sometimes referred to in Swahili love poems.

Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their effort sapping fruitless search for nectar.

Plumeria species are easily propagated by taking a cutting of leafless stem tips in Spring and allowing them to dry at the base before inserting them into soil. They are also easily propagated via tissue culture both from cuttings of freshly elongated stems and aseptically germinated seed. Plumeria Seeds come in many various varieties of which we have many, obtained from many of these wonderful plants.

Plumeria Plants can be kept very easily in pots and brought in during the winter period. My recommendation would be to keep your Plumeria as a Flowering House Plant. If keeping your Plumeria in a pot then be sure to increase the your pot size once the roots of the plant begin to appear out the holes at the bottom. Remember that Plumeria are sub-tropical and love full sun and therefore need lots of direct sunlight. If you are going to keep it in the house or even if it is outside, for optimum growth and flowering be sure your plant gets around 6 hours of sunlight each day and it will remain very happy and provide years of pleasure.

The genus, originally spelled Plumiera, is named in honor of the seventeenth-century French botanist Charles Plumier, who traveled to the New World documenting many plant and animal species. The common name "Frangipani" comes from an Italian noble family, a sixteenth-century marquess of which invented a Plumeria-scented perfume.  Many English speakers also simply use the generic name "Plumeria".

They are now quite a common naturelised plant in both southern and southeastern Asia, and in local folk beliefs and superstitions they believe Plumeria provide shelter to ghosts and demons.

The strong and fragrant scent of the Plumeria has been associated with a vampire in Malay folklore, the Pontianak. 

They are associated with temples in both Hindu and Buddhist cultures, though Hindus do not use the flowers in their temple offerings and in several Pacific islands, such as Thailand, Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook Islands, Plumeria is used for making leis. In modern Polynesian culture, it can be worn by women to indicate their relationship status - over the right ear if seeking a relationship, and over the left if taken!

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