Gardening Tips and Tricks : Plumeria – Facts You May Not Know
You can find Plumeria trees growing all over the world, mainly for their delightful fragrance. Yet, growers are also attracted to the carefree growing habits of this tree as well as the many different colors available.
Plumeria trees are categorized as deciduous, which simply means they drop all their leaves to the ground when the colder, dry months set in. While many other tropical plants cannot be grown easily in cold climates, these trees can be because of this deciduous nature that makes them very easy to care for and preserve when it gets too cold. The plant will store up its own moisture and then drop its leaves to go into a dormant state when the cold season approaches. Growers do not have to feed or water them until warm weather arrives again and the trees start to wake back up. These plants can be grown as trees or larger sized shrubbery and they contain poisonous liquid inside their branches which can cause irritation on the skin or to the eyes. It is important to wash thoroughly if you come in contact with this liquid.
During the wet and warm season you will see Plumeria, also known as Frangipani, start to awaken. The ends of the branches will develop long leaves that can be up to 20 inches long. Later in the season the fragrant flowers emerge. Plumeria flowers always have five petals that are immaculately sculpted for breathtaking beauty. The flowering begins during the moist, warm summer seasons in Florida and the Caribbean, but these plants are grown other places around the world as well.
How big Plumeria gets and how it is formed depends on what type is grown. For a tall tree with pink to red flowers, you can grow the P. ruba plumeria, which can get as tall as 25 feet. The P. obtuse also grows about 25 feet, but features white flowers with yellow centers. The leaves on this tree tend to be smaller than on other Plumeria plants. Growing even taller is the P. alba, which can reach 40 feet. This tree has beautiful white flowers with yellow at the center as well.
Since Plumeria plants can be found in various areas of the world, there are different names for it around the world. It was originally discovered and documented as “Plumeria” by a 17th century botanist exploring the New World, whose name happened to be Plumiera. The name Frangipani came out of Italy where a noble family used these flowers as inspiration for a perfume scent. There are other names for the plant around the world, including the “temple tree” in Sri Lanka and Melia in Hawaii.
Plumeria is adored by humans around the world because of its sweet scent, but it is actually quite the tease. The flowers put out that tremendous scent in order to attract the Sphinx moth. These moths search from flower to flower for nectar, drawn in by that strong sweet scent that comes out at night. The secret is that Plumeria plants don’t have any nectar to give the moths! They tease the moths with their scent, but the promise of nectar is never delivered upon. The plants do this in order to collect the pollen from the moths as they travel from one plant to the other, pollinating the plant.
What most people don’t realize is that these plants are not always grown in tropical locations and have uses beyond their fragrance. Asian folklore credits Plumeria trees with harboring demons and ghosts while in the Philippines and Indonesia the plants are typically found in graveyards and are associated with the dead. Finding these beautiful trees in a graveyard is nothing uncommon these countries.
The history behind the Plumeria plant is quite rich. If you do some research you will appreciate that tropical island lei on vacation or that Plumeria cutting a lot more!