Both beautiful and fragrant, the plumeria is beloved by people around the world.
The plumeria, also known as frangipani, are flowering plants in the dogbane family native to South and Central America and the Caribbean. Plumeria will grow vigorously and bloom regularly and profusely when they receive at least six hours of sun per day and an ample amount of the proper fertilizers. They must be planted in highly organic fast-draining soil or in beds with adequate drainage.
Plumeria can be grown as container plants here. The pot may be sunk in the ground to give the effect of a landscape plant or placed in an indoor or outdoor grouping. During the winter, plumeria require very little care. When temperatures drop below 50 degrees at night, bring the plant inside and remove the leaves. Store in a cool dry place and do not water more than once a month. Donít allow temperatures to fall below freezing in the storage area.
Propagate plumeria from cuttings of leafless stem tips in spring. Allow the cutting to dry at the base before planting in well-drained soil
Plumeria is named in honor of the 17th-century French botanist Charles Plumier, who traveled to the New World documenting many plant and animal species.
Plumeria is related to the oleander and the sap of both shrubs is mildly toxic. Contact with the sap may irritate eyes and skin.
In traditional Indian medicine, some plumeria species are considered purgatives or remedies for diarrhea and to treat inflammation, rheumatism, tumors and gonorrhea. Extracts of plumeria are also used in perfumes and incense. Indian incenses containing plumeria have "Champa" in their name.
Hawaiians use the fragrant flowers to make leis and plumeria are considered a symbol of everything good.
In Malay folklore, the scent of the plumeria is associated with vampires. There, frangipani trees are often planted in cemeteries. Plumeria is also planted in cemeteries in Indonesia and the Philippines where it is associated with ghosts and spirits.
Plumeria are associated with temples in both Hindu and Buddhist cultures. For Hindus the plant symbolized devotion and dedication; for Buddhists it is the symbol of immortality.
In the Victorian language of flowers, plumeria symbolizes beauty, charm, and grace.
In Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii and New Zealand, women wear plumeria to indicate their relationship status. Women seeking mates tuck the flower over the right ear and those who have a lover wear it over the left.
Plumeria is the national flower of both Nicaragua and Laos.
For more information, visit the website of the International Plumeria Society at www.plumeria.org