The Root System of Plumeria

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Plumeria is featured in many Hawaiian leis.

Plumeria is known for its heavy fragrance and attractive white or pink petals. Though it is often grown in a container, a plumeria plant is actually a small flowering tree. Thanks to its relatively shallow root system, its beautiful flowers can be grown in pots. Though easy to transplant, plumeria roots do not like restriction, and special care is required to get bountiful blossoms.

Root System

Plumeria roots are fairly shallow compared to the height of the plant. The root system is small and fibrous, making it easy to transport when transplanting the plant. This type of root system means that the plant can thrive for a number of years in the same container. But if left too long, the roots can girdle and circle around the bottom of the container, leading to stunted growth once transplanted. Transplanting is easy even when plants reach a height of 12 feet, and many growers find them easy to move as desired. But the trees are somewhat more sensitive to root disturbance when they are young.

Rooting Cuttings

When attempting to encourage root growth in plumeria cuttings, care is required. A rooting hormone helps along the process. Do not add too much water while the trees are rooting but do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Transplant your plumeria carefully as undeveloped root systems are brittle and avoid letting the plant grow in a single pot too long. For best results, root plumerias in a dry, hot environment but place pots on cool soil to promote root formation. Plumeria root systems need to develop quickly and unhindered to be their strongest. Use plastic nursery pots as plumeria roots tend to stick to clay pots.

Container Size

Plumerias are often seen in containers, but they will suffer from reduced size and branching if the pots are not large enough. If the roots are constricted, your plumeria is likely to struggle and may not develop a thick trunk or produce significant branches or flowers. The crown of the tree will be compact in such a case. Choose a 5-gallon pot as a starter then move to larger pots, such as 15 gallons. Spring is the best time to re-pot your plumeria.

General Care

Once your plumeria tree is established, feed it with a fertilizer high in phosphorous. Water it liberally once the soil dries out and place it in a location with plenty of sunlight. Plumerias prefer their roots in shade and their crowns in the sun. Wood decks and patios are ideal locations for placement. Avoid setting them down on hot concrete. Plumerias don't like frost either and should be protected from the cold. Re-pot your plumeria every year to avoid a root-bound plant and use a well-draining potting mix with organic matter.


Carly Fiske

Carly Fiske has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes for websites including, and Fiske holds a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology from the University of Redlands.