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Plumeria Rubra | Red Frangipani Growing & Care Guide

If you’re looking for an attractive new addition to your garden or home that flowers vibrantly and is low-maintenance, the Plumeria Rubra plant may be a great option for you.

This showy shrub is a very popular Frangipani variety that blossoms brilliantly with gorgeous flowers amid luscious large-leaved foliage.

The flowers have been popularised by their use in Hawaiian leis and the small tree itself is known to be an excellent addition to any garden or natural space. Here is your full guide on how to grow and care for your Plumeria Rubra.

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Plumeria Rubra Red Frangipani Growing & Care Guide

Introducing Plumeria Rubra

Plumeria Rubra features radiant pink to red flowers that form in spiral-shaped clusters at the branch tips

This treasured garden plant can bloom throughout the year given the right conditions and is known to be easy-going and quite resistant to pest and disease problems.

Plumeria Rubra features radiant pink to red flowers that form in spiral-shaped clusters at the branch tips. The blossoms boast a beautiful fragrance, the leathery oblong dark-green leaves look luscious year-round, and the smooth silvery bark sets an attractive backdrop for this tropical beauty. 

Commonly referred to as the Red Frangipani, plumeria rubra is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is widely cultivated in subtropical and tropical climates around the world.

Red frangipani is a part of the Apocynaceae family in the Plumeria genus and is native to tropical regions of the globe like Mexico, Central America, Columbia and Venezuela. 

Naturally, they grow best in tropical climates with lots of light and high humidity levels but, with some know-how, they can also be grown successfully in cooler, less tropical regions. USDA hardiness zone recommendations for this plant are 10 to 12. 

With an attractive umbrella shaped appearance, red frangipani is most commonly used as a free-standing feature plant in gardens and outdoor spaces or planted in containers to be strategically placed around the garden or house.

With other nifty applications such as planting as part of a shrub border in your landscape or even being used as a superb houseplant, this charming little tree has it all. It is important to note that all parts of the plant, especially the sap, are known to be toxic to humans and pets if ingested. 

Family

Apocynaceae

Genus:

Species:

P. rubra

Common Names:

Red Frangipani, Plumeria Plant

Location:

 Indoor and outdoor

Type: 

Deciduous plant, shrub, small tree

Growth:

15 to 25 inches tall and wide

Sun Requirements:

Full sun to part shade

Foliage Color:

Green

Flower Color:

Pink to red

Flowering:

Spring to Fall

Hardiness Zones:

USDA 10-12

Maintenance Level:

Low

Poisonous for Pets:

Toxic to children, adults and pets if ingested

How to Grow Plumeria Rubra

How to Grow Plumeria Rubra

Red frangipani can be grown by seed or easily propagated using cuttings where the latter tends to be the preferred and easiest method for successful establishment. Using seeds is not recommended as you can’t guarantee the results.

The flowers may differ from the parent plant and the shrub may take longer to bloom. If you have to use seeds, it is recommended to purchase healthy seeds from reputable nurseries for a higher success rate when growing. 

Cuttings on the other hand will be similar to the parent plant and will also bloom earlier. This is important especially if you want to grow a specific variety like red frangipani. 

Whether you’re sowing seeds or starting to establish a healthy cutting, it is recommended to start in spring when the warmer months lay ahead. Follow these simple steps to grow plumeria rubra from seed or by using a cutting. 

Growing Plumeria Rubra Using Seeds

  • Place your seeds between moistened tissue paper and leave them for 24 hours in a warm location. The seeds will swell and retain more moisture which can help speed up the germination process.
  • Prepare your potting mix and add a healthy layer to your pots or growing containers. 
  • Moisten your potting mix and make a small hole on the top in the middle of the container. 
  • Gently push your plumeria seeds about 0.2 inches deep into the mixture making sure the swollen, thicker ends of the seeds are at the bottom, deeper in the soil. 
  • Gently compact the soil against the sides of your seeds. 
  • Place your seeds in a warm, well-lit area away from full direct sunlight. You can optionally place your small pots in a plastic container with a lid to help increase humidity and speed up the process.
  • Keep the soil moist by misting it with water when the topsoil looks dry.

Germination can occur within a week or take over a month depending on seed quality and growing conditions. Once your seeds have germinated, you can gently transplant the seedlings to bigger pots to encourage bigger, faster growth.

You can also start to introduce more light to the red frangipani as it grows because it should ideally be getting as much full daily sunlight as possible as it establishes itself. 


Plumeria Rubra Propagation

Plumeria Rubra Propagation

Propagating Red Frangipani Using Cuttings

  • Using a sharpened tool, take a cutting of about 12 to 15 inches long from a healthy plant that is your desired plumeria variety. 
  • Remove most of the leaves, if any, from your cutting. 
  • Place the cutting aside for a few days to let it dry out and harden a little. This can help to prevent possible infection as well as encourage root growth. 
  • Be sure to prepare good planting soil. A perlite and potting soil mix should work great.  
  • Dip the stem end into some rooting hormone then plant your cutting into your container or straight into your garden bed. Place into the soil until about halfway up the branch.

Water the cutting just after planting then let it dry for at least a week. Water lightly and sporadically. The cutting should begin to take root within a few months where it can then be transplanted if necessary.


Planting Plumeria Rubra

Planting Plumeria Rubra

It is recommended to plant your red frangipani at the start of its growing season in early spring when the weather is warmer. This plant can be placed into your garden bed for use as an ornamental shrub or decorative small tree.

It can also be planted into attractive containers to be placed in your desired location around your outdoor areas or home. Either way, plumeria rubra will thrive and grow best given certain conditions. 

Light Requirements

These tropical plants will thrive best in full sun environments but can also be grown in partially shaded locations. It is recommended that the plant receives at least 4 to 6 hours of full sunlight per day. 

Best Soil for Plumeria Rubra

Rich, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic is best for the red frangipani. Loam or sand soil types should work well for garden beds where a perlite and sandy soil potting mix is recommended for container growing. Containers should have sufficient draining holes.

Temperature & Humidity

These plants thrive in warm and tropical to subtropical environments with elevated humidity levels. For use as a houseplant, be sure that your room temperatures stay around 55°F and that the plant is protected from strong draughts.

How to Plant Red Frangipani

Whether planted in your garden or a container, these simple steps can be followed:

  • Your planting hole should be at least twice as wide and to the same depth as your root ball. 
  • Place your plant gently in your soil where the root ball should be flush with the ground or surrounding soil.
  • Fill with your soil mix and gently pat firm around the base of your plant. 
  • Water so the soil is moist but not waterlogged.

Caring for Plumeria Rubra

Caring for Plumeria Rubra

The plumeria plants are hardy and generally easy to care for. Once established they are tolerant to drought, salt and wind but are susceptible to cold weather and freezing temperatures.

These plants will respond well to some extra care. For a healthy and thriving plant that blooms brilliantly, follow our top care tips here. 

Watering Plumeria Rubra

Water your red frangipani moderately during its growing seasons between spring and summer. During the fall you can cut back further with your waterings.

Don’t water during the winter periods. Always allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry before watering again as this plant does not respond well to being overwatered. 

What Fertilizer to Use

Fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season to encourage growth and brilliant blooms. Using a water-soluble fertilizer rich in phosphorus is recommended. An NPK 10-30-10 fertilizer should work wonderfully. 

Pruning Red Frangipani

Pruning can be done to remove damaged branches and to help control size. You can trim branches where they connect to the trunk. Try to avoid pruning too drastically as this can reduce flowering. 

Overwintering

In cooler areas that experience very cold winters, it is recommended to move your plumeria rubra indoors for this period. It is in these regions that container growing is optimal as the plant can then be simply moved inside for the winter.

If planted in the garden, the plant may need to be dug up and placed in a temporary home indoors for the winter months.

Humidity Control

You may need to help increase the humidity levels so that your red frangipani is happy. For containers inside or outside, adding a pebble tray filled with water beneath your plant can help.

For garden plants, adding coarse mulch to the base of the plant can help the soil retain moisture during hot days. For either scenario, misting regularly is a great way to boost humidity levels.  

General Cleaning

After the flowering seasons, the plant may produce dry, brown cylindrical seed pods that will need to be removed and cleared out. You can optionally collect these seedpods to dry and pry open for their seeds at a later stage.

Be sure to also wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth every so often to make sure they are breathing correctly. 


Common Plumeria Rubra Pests & Problems 

How to Plant Red Frangipani

Luckily, these hardy plants have no serious issues normally. There are a few small things you can look out for when growing plumeria rubra. 

Root Rot

These plants are susceptible to overwatering or poor soil drainage where root rot could be a problem. Be sure not to water your red frangipani too much and make sure you use well-draining soil. 

Spider Mites

Plumeria plants can have the occasional visit from red spider mites if the plant is left to dry for too long or does not receive enough sunlight. They can be knocked off by spraying the plant with water or they can be treated using a neem spray. 

Plumeria Rust

If you notice orange powder beginning to form on your leaves or leaf blisters popping up, your plant could have plumeria rust. Luckily this is not fatal to the plant and can be treated easily using a fungicide.


Red Frangipani FAQs

Do plumeria leaves fall off in winter?

This plant does go through dormancy in winter when it will drop its leaves and remaining flowers. This helps it prepare for new growth to come.

Is plumeria fast growing?

Also called Frangipani, these plants are fast-growing, free-blooming, tropical trees with brilliant and scented flowers. 

What is the coldest temperature a plumeria can take?

The lowest temperature these plants can handle is around 32°F and only for short periods. Prolonged exposure to frost can kill small plants and severely damage larger trees.

Does frangipani rust affect other plants?

This rust can spread to other nearby plants so treating it as soon as possible will help prevent unwanted spread.

If you’re interested in growing plumerias in your garden, be sure to check out our complete growing guide on Plumeria Obtusa, commonly know as Singapore Plumeria. 


Wrapping Up Our Plumeria Rubra Guide

This showy deciduous plant can easily enhance the spectacle and wonder of any garden or natural space with its vibrant blooms and shapely foliage.

Offering growers multiple landscaping opportunities, the red frangipani is a must-have for those looking for a fast-growing, low-maintenance shrub or small tree.

Grown in the right conditions, plumeria rubra can charm any space year-round and is perfect for gardens or homes that need a burst of natural colour and luscious texture. 

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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