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Dwarf Plumeria- Tips for Care & Garden Design

Dwarf plumeria is a compact version of an iconic flowering tree, also referred to as frangipani. The signature blooms of this tree are known for their sweet fragrance and are often found in spas, tropical resorts, and high-end salons. Enjoy the tropical vibes of dwarf plumeria in your landscape! Read on for tips on caring for these gorgeous trees and tips for how to style them in your garden!

Caring for Dwarf Plumeria

Dwarf plumeria is well-adapted to our climate here in Southern California, so taking care of these compact but magnificent plants is a breeze! Here’s what you need to know to keep it flowering beautifully through most of the year.

Sun Requirements

Care of your dwarf plumeria begins at the time of planting! These tropical plants thrive in heat and need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight to look and grow their best.

Water Needs
While dwarf plumeria will take high humidity in stride, it prefers infrequent deep waterings to frequent drinks. During the warm summer months, allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering; if you’re using a moisture meter, wait for a reading between 3 and 1. Plumeria are remarkably drought-tolerant, and can even tolerate a period of time in bone-dry soil.

During the winter months, when a plumeria is dormant, it should be given almost no water, even if growing in a container. Overwatering a plumeria during its winter dormant period is a common error.

Suitable Soil

Given a dwarf plumeria’s aversion to overwatering, an important aspect of their care is appropriate soil. They need fast-draining soil, such as a sandy blend enriched with compost. At Roger’s Gardens, we suggest Cactus Mix. The plant will not tolerate clay or silt. Ensure your container (if you’re using one) is also equipped with large, unobstructed drainage holes to protect your dwarf plumeria from root rot.

Feeding Schedule

To produce all those irresistible fragrant blooms, your tree will require regular feeding with a slow-release, granular fertilizer, like organic Down to Earth Rose & Flower fertilizer or you can use a soluble fertilizer like Sea Grow Flower & Bloom fertilizer. Take care to choose an organic formula that’s higher in phosphorus and lower in nitrogen. Apply according to package directions, and stop applying about 45 days before Thanksgiving, when your tree is preparing for dormancy.

Dwarf Plumeria Pests & Disease

With proper care, dwarf plumeria tends to have a good natural resistance to pests and disease. However, an infestation of whiteflies, scale, spider mites, or mealybug is not out of the realm of possibility. Make sure to give your plumeria an occasional check to catch these pests early when they’re easier to treat. Check your tree more frequently when the humidity is low, when these bugs tend to come out in greater numbers.

Plumeria can sometimes develop a disease called ‘rust,’ which is actually a fungus that causes some yellow discoloration. Rust is preventable by ensuring there’s plenty of airflow around and through your tree’s branches.


Garden Design Ideas with Dwarf Plumeria

Now that you’re well-versed in dwarf plumeria care, try these garden design ideas to turn your tree into a landscape focal point!


Statement Container

  • Plant your dwarf plumeria in a 5-gallon container that matches your outdoor color palette, and place in a focal area with full sun.
  • Cover the soil around the plant with a low-water, fine-textured ground cover like delosperma or succulents.
  • Alternatively, fill in spaces with succulents and mulch with cobblestone.

Hummingbird Garden

  • Plumeria are highly attractive to hummingbirds! To draw more of these pretty pollinators into your garden, plant dwarf plumeria in a corner fairly close to a taller tree or hedge where hummingbirds can hide between feedings.
  • Plant other hummingbird-friendly plants near your dwarf plumeria to make the area more attractive, both to human and hummingbird admirers!
  • Finally, ensure there’s a water source nearby to meet all of their needs. Hummingbirds tend to use water sources for bathing, not drinking, so moving water works best. Consider adding a decorative fountain to your hummingbird garden.

Poolside Plumeria

  • Plant plumeria in parallel corners around your pool deck, either in the ground or in 10-gallon planters.
  • Surround the trunk with highly-textured foliage plants to cover the exposed soil, such as sweet potato vine (ideal for containers) or liriope.


Container Trio

  • Start with a set of three different-sized containers in the same shape and material. Ensure the largest pot is at least 7 gallons.
  • Plant dwarf plumeria in your largest pot and surround the trunk with a tropical foliage plant, such as small bromeliads or a low-growing groundcover.
  • In the second-largest planter, opt for a succulent with contrasting texture and color like Euphorbia Sticks on Fire.
  • In the smallest container, fill with a trailing plant like Portulaca 'Mega Pizzazz Purple'.

For more information on dwarf plumeria care, plus endless inspiration for your garden, visit our Newport Beach garden center or watch All About Plumerias with Suzanne Hetrick. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram or Facebook when you post your own garden design ideas!