Plant plumeria for hint of the islands

Have you ever wanted a touch of Hawaii in your yard? The lovely plumeria will make you feel like you have just landed on the islands. What a beautiful fragrance!Any good flight to the island of Hawaii ends with the passengers departing the plane and someone putting a lei around your neck. That lovely traditional lei is strung with the blossoms from the ubiquitous plumeria plant.

The plumeria blooms throughout the year in the tropics, but it will give you gorgeous blooms for months here in Southeast Texas. It has an active fan club in our area, where we can complement our landscape with its color in all but the coldest months.

Plumeria (plu-MARE-ee-aa) are also known as frangipani, melia and temple trees. They are native to the Caribbean, Central America, the Yucatan and tropical America.The plumeria are commonly seen as small (30 feet) trees near temples and graveyards in Hawaii. The flowers are delicate and very fragrant. You can find the frangipani blooms in pinks, red, yellow, whites and combinations of these colors. From March through November, you are treated to the delicious scents of their delicately sculpted flowers.

Area gardeners usually use the frangipani as a container grown ornamental. You can plant directly into the ground but be prepared to protect them in freezing weather. They like everything we have in this area: lots of bright sun or high shade, slightly acidic soil and lots of moisture.

To keep your baby plumerias happy, be sure to keep them well watered. Don’t allow them to dry out between watering, but no soggy soil, either. Fertilize with a high phosphorus (the middle number) product every few weeks. Winterize when temps fall below 40 degrees. They require no light or water during winter storage. The leaves will fall from the plant during winter dormancy.

Area nurseries have plumeria varieties they can suggest. Bring it home, keep it watered and enjoy a taste of the islands.

Joette is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.