Globally adored and cultivated for its highly ornamental, sweetly fragranced flowers, Plumeria Obtusa is the perfect pick for any grower hoping to establish a small decorative tree in their landscapes or outdoor spaces.
It features delicate 5-petalled flowers with yellow throats that bloom in bouquet-like clusters amidst leathery, dark-green glossy teardrop-shaped leaves and an attractive form.
Here is your full guide to growing and caring for Singapore Plumeria.
Getting to Know Plumeria Obtusa
Plumeria Obtusa can often be seen in traditional Hawaiian leis or worn in the hair. Widely cultivated in warm climates around the world, this tree is deciduous when grown here in the U.S.
It offers growers with a few practical applications while also sporting some of the prettiest blooms. Considered low-maintenance, this tree is perfect for any grower regardless of experience.
Singapore plumeria, Singapore graveyard flower, white frangipani
10 to 25 ft. tall and wide
Spring to fall
10 to 12
Poisonous for Pets:
Sap is toxic to cats and dogs if ingested
Plumeria Obtusa Plant Details
Part of the Apocynaceae family, Plumeria obtusa is also commonly known as Singapore plumeria, Singapore graveyard flower or white frangipani. “Obtusa” means blunt which refers to the tree's blunt-tipped leaves.
Native to the West Indies, southern Mexico, Guatemala and Florida, this tree naturally thrives in warmer climates with recommended USDA hardiness zones of 10 to 12 where it is considered fast-growing.
Cultivated plants grow to around 10 to 25 feet tall and wide in most gardens. It makes for an excellent free-standing specimen, patio tree, used in a shrub border or planted in containers.
Enjoy the sweetly scented flowers in spring to autumn by planting your tree near areas you and your family frequent in the garden. When pruned to control the size and shape, they make for fantastic decorative additions to more controlled and landscaped garden designs.
How to Grow Plumeria Obtusa
Growing a plumeria from seed can take a lot of time and will require careful attention to detail. These plants are easily propagated by using stem cuttings from a healthy, disease-free tree.
Alternatively, young plants should be readily available at your local nurseries or garden centres which you can then simply transplant into your desired location.
Best Conditions for Planting Singapore Plumeria
Known as a hardy plant that can come back after each winter, this plant will still need to be grown under certain conditions to allow it to thrive and flower prolifically each growing season.
It is recommended to plant in early spring to allow the plant to establish itself in the coming warmer months. Here are some of the ideal planting conditions for plumeria.
Exposure to Sunlight
This plant will grow best in full sun positions outside. They can tolerate some light shade but will perform best when given at least 6 hours of full sun each day.
Best Soil to Plant White Frangipani
This tropical tree needs well-draining soils that are slightly acidic to thrive. You can always add some perlite or compost to your garden bed to enrich the soil and improve drainage if you’re concerned.
For pots, use a coarse, well-draining potting mix, cactus mix or perlite and sand.
Plumeria Obtusa Propagation
Growing Plumeria Obtusa from Seeds
- You will first have to test and see which seeds are viable for growth by placing them in water. The seeds that float are most likely dead so choose the best-looking seeds that sink to the bottom.
- Prepare seedling trays filled with high-quality potting mix or an equally good seedling mix.
- Sow your seeds into the soil by burying the thicker ends of the seeds into the mix, leaving the thinner end (wings) slightly exposed at the top of the soil.
- Water moderately after sowing and keep the mixture moist.
- It can take several weeks to even months to see progress depending on the conditions so you’ll need to be patient.
- Keep your seed trays in a warm location out of harsh direct light.
- Once your seedlings start developing, you can move them into bigger growing pots and start exposing them to more direct light once they have grown a few inches tall.
Propagating Singapore Plumeria Using Stem Cuttings
- Using a sharp and sterilized pair of gardening shears, take a cutting that is at least 12 inches long from a healthy and established branch. Cuttings should be taken in springtime.
(See our how to take cuttings tutorial for more knowledge on different types of cuttings.)
- Remove all the leaves from your cutting other than those at the very top.
- Leave the cutting to dry and callous for at least 1 full week.
- Thereafter, prepare your garden bed or a well-draining container by enriching the soil with a mixture of perlite and potting soil.
- Dip the planting end (cut end) of your cutting into some water and then some rooting hormone.
(Refer to: Best Rooting Hormones to Use for Propagating Cuttings)
- Plant the cutting into the soil about halfway up the branch in a location that gets full sun to very light shade.
- Water well after planting but be aware to not overwater which will prevent possible rotting issues.
- Let the soil dry out for at least the first week after the initial watering then water lightly and sporadically.
- The cutting will take root and begin to show signs of growth within a few months.
Companion Plants for Singapore Plumeria
Even though this tree flowers prolifically between spring and fall, thereafter it will lose its flowers and leaves in the dormant winter months. This can make them look dead and unappealing, especially if planted as a stand-alone feature plant.
We recommend planting a few companion plants around your plumeria to offset the withered winter appearance and offer some foliage around your plant while it is dormant.
Here are a few possible companions to consider:
Singapore Graveyard Flower Quick Planting Tips
- Plant at least 4 feet away from any buildings or structures to allow the plant to reach its full height. This will also ensure it grows equally on all sides.
- If grown in containers or pots, be sure to always use containers that feature good drainage.
- Always plant plumerias in warm weather.
- Your planting hole should be at least as deep and wide as the root ball. Plant until the root ball is flush with the surrounding soil or ground.
Singapore Plumeria Care Tips
This tree can tolerate some neglect and is known to bounce back from drought quite easily. Here are a few tips for caring for a plumeria to allow it to thrive.
While it’s growing, water your plant moderately. Thereafter, water only when the soil is almost dry. Over the colder winter months when the tree is dormant, you can stop watering entirely.
Once you see new growth appearing around early spring, you can resume your usual watering routine.
Best Fertilizer to Use
Your plumeria will need to be fed every 2 to 3 weeks during its active growing seasons. Use a high phosphate fertilizer like a 10-30-10 or 10-30-20 for the best results.
Pruning Plumeria Obtusa
Control the shape and size of your tree by pruning it after the flowering seasons. Remove any dead or damaged branches by trimming the branches where they join with the main trunk.
During early development, be sure to prune your tree in a way that focuses on creating and defining that healthy centre trunk.
In cooler regions outside of zones 10 to 12, you will need to protect your tree from freezing temperatures. Being tropical, these trees are very sensitive to frost and long exposure to freezing conditions.
In cooler regions, it is recommended to plant in a container so that you can bring your plant indoors over winter. You can also sink the container into a garden bed if you still want the look of a ground-planted tree then simply dig the container up, rinse it and move it indoors during the winter period.
Singapore Plumeria Pests & Diseases
Luckily, there are usually no serious pest or disease issues with plumerias. Rot can occur in soils with poor drainage so be sure to always use the right soil and avoid overwatering.
The milky sap can also cause skin irritation so if you want, use gardening gloves when working on your tree. Here are a few possible problems your plumeria could face and how to solve them.
Spider Mites/Mealybugs/Scale Bugs
These mild but still infuriating pests can cause some damage if left untreated. To get rid of them, you can simply spray and hose down the foliage to knock them off.
Thankfully not deadly, plumeria rust can still cause some damage and lead to more serious diseases if left untreated. It appears as an orangey powder with blisters on the leaves of the tree. It can effectively be treated by using a fungicide.
Plumeria Obtusa Frequently Asked Questions
How fast does plumeria obtusa grow?
In the right conditions, this tree usually grows about 24 to 36 inches per year. They can live for over 15 years in optimal conditions as well.
Are plumeria roots invasive?
This plant features cactus-like qualities in that it is extremely water-wise and its roots are shallow and considered non-invasive.
What temperature is too hot for plumeria?
These trees need to be kept in conditions above 50°F at all times. If temperatures drop below that they may never be able to recover from the frost damage. Ideal temperatures for plumeria are between 60 and 75°F where possible.
Interested in also growing the equally gorgeous Red Frangipani plumeria? Be sure to check out our in-depth guide below:
Plump Up Your Gardens Potential with Plumeria Obtusa
A must-have ornamental tropical tree with clusters of gorgeous, fragrant white flowers and attractive glossy foliage, this tree can certainly plump up your garden and natural spaces easily.
Whether grown alongside other decorative foliage or planted as a free-standing specimen, this lush and easy-going tree will impress and add tropical textures to spaces where it’s needed for many years.
Now that you know how to grow and care for your plumeria obtusa, you can enjoy this beautiful flowering tree along with so many others across the globe.