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Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Plumeria obtusa

Native to tropical and sub-tropical Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela, it has also been naturalised in most of tropical Asia, Hawaii and Javan Islands. Known as the temple tree, it is linked with religious practices and folklore of many communities including, Hindus, Buddhists and Samoan too. Its fragrant flowers are used in garlands and temple offering in India, Bali, Hawaii and other countries worldwide.

Frangipani, Plumeria obtusa, Flowers
Frangipani, Plumeria obtusa, Flowers

Styles: The Frangipani makes coarse, open, flowering, medium to large bonsai, primarily in the natural upright forms.

Position: In the temperate parts of the world it needs to be grown as an indoor bonsai as it is not at all frost hardy. It requires a bright south-facing window or conservatory to do it best. Temperatures below 10°C can be problematic for the Frangipani.

Watering: The Frangipani don’t need much watering, but if they get the water they seem to do just as well, especially if accompanied with a lot of sun, light and feed. A good practice is to allow the soil surface of your frangipani bonsai to dry before you water them.

Feeding: Feed with an organic fertiliser. If using a liquid nutrient feed every two weeks, if using a pelletised version feed every two months. It is tolerant of most Ph level, conditions, lime can be used to balance out any excessive acidity of the organic feed. Feed profusely during the flowering and fruiting periods.

Repotting: Repot every year as Plumeria roots multiply and they do not like to be pot bound. Use a well-drained soil to avoid root rot. Use an equal mix of Akadama, Pumice, and well-mulched Bark chips and repot in spring when nighttime temperatures are above 10°C. After repotting do not water for a couple of weeks. You can reduce the root ball by about a third, do not bare root the bonsai.

Pruning: While this is a continuously growing species and you can prune throughout the year, in temperate areas it is best to prune in spring, just before leaf growth starts. Remove heaver branches only during the slower growth periods.

Wiring: Plumeria styling is best carried out with the ‘clip and grow.’ They are just too thick and pithy to wire and scar easily.

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