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Plumeria Rubra Flower: Characteristics and Care Guide

Plumeria Rubra flower compensates lack of nectar by choosing a vibrant color palette and sweet aroma to attract pollinators.

Plumeria Rubra blooms with multicolored (pinkish-red, white, yellow, orange, and hot-pink) flowers during the full sun of early summer until mid-autumn. The flowers are also used for home decor, to treat diabetes mellitus and toothache, and as components in perfumes and cosmetics.

Besides that, Plumeria Rubra has different meanings and cultural significance. So, read on to find them alongside care loopholes to make vigorous Rubra flowering.

How Often Does Plumeria Rubra Flower?

Plumeria Rubra may look like a shrub due to its small height, but it is a small tree.

Despite their small stature, they produce clusters of magnificent blooms from early summer to mid-autumn (May to October).

The individual Plumeria Rubra flower clusters persist for about a week.

However, flowering occurs only after one to four years if you grow Plumeria Rubra trees from cuttings or seeds.

Thankfully, you can extend and promote vigorous flowering of Plumeria Rubra via prompt pruning of old branches.

Image represents clusters of Plumeria rubra flowers
Clusters of Plumeria Flowers are known for their sweet aromatic scent.

When the tree is about to produce the blooms, flowering branches turn green, diverging from their normal gray-green hue.

Furthermore, Plumeria Rubra is the only species of Plumeria that is best for growing inside your home.

Thus, provide your Plumeria Rubra with warm sunshine and humidity to make it a prolific bloomer as a pot plant.

Overview of Plumeria Rubra Flower

Do you know Plumeria Rubra can produce fragrant flowers even after it has been uprooted?

Commonly known as Red Frangipani or Frangipani flowers, Rubra flowers bear cultural significance with their color or fragrance.

InflorescenceTerminal corymbose
Flowering SeasonBeginning from early summer to mid-autumn
Bloom ColorVarious (pinkish-red, white, yellow, orange and hot-pink)
Flower Size0.4 to 2 cm long (along with pedicel)
Floral Aroma or ScentSweet or a mix of jasmine, peaches or citrus (depending on the bloom color)
Flower SexualityBisexual
PollinationEntomophily (pollination by hawk moths and sphinx moths)
Ornithophily (pollination by birds)
Fruit TypeFollicle
HabitPerennial deciduous tree
ToxicityMildly poisonous due to presence of sap
UsesCut flowers (ornamental)
Essential oil extraction (medicinal)
Folklore (traditional)

Pinkish-red, yellow, white, orange, and hot-pink blooms of Plumeria varieties show outstanding allure.

But, each Plumeria has its unique scent that helps differentiate between the varieties.

Pollination of Plumeria Rubra Flower

Male (anther) and female (Stigma) parts are present in the same Rubra flower, making them bisexual.

So, they can self-pollinate easily in nature and produce seeds via fruiting after successful pollination.

But as the Plumeria Rubra tree lacks nectar in flowers, they pollinate via a different approach.

They use deceptive pollination techniques, where the flower releases a false aroma that attracts hawk moths to help them pollinate.
Image represents hawkmoths pollinating the flower of Plumeria rubra
The hawk moth is one of the main pollinating agents in the flower of Plumeria Rubra.

Besides hawk moths, hummingbirds and sphinx moths often help to self-pollinate or cross-pollinate the flowers.

But, if your garden lacks pollinators, use hand pollination to pollinate the flowers.

Hand Pollination in Plumeria Rubra Flowers

Hand pollination in Plumeria Rubra is feasible using the twirling method that uses a basic twirler.

To make a twirler, place a three inches long fishing wire with 1-2 inches protruding out to the pointed end of a wooden skewer and wrap some tape to hold it in place.

Aim to pollinate the Rubra flowers during dusk when the scent of the flowers is most noticeable.

However, when the blooming frequency is highest, you can pollinate anytime from early summer to mid-autumn.

  • Collect 1-2 days old blooms to preserve the viability of the pollens.
  • Gently insert the twirler inside the petal tube of the flower, just enough to touch the Stigma.
  • Rotate the twirler in clock and anticlockwise directions so pollens can stick to the wire.
  • Repeat the process by placing the same twirler inside the corolla tube of another flower. Do not pluck the flowers off the tree this time.

Plumeria Rubra produces fruits after successful pollination, and you can notice oblong fruits (6 to 12 inches long) turning dark with a progressive maturing process.

The fruits take 9 to 10 months to ripen. After ripening, you can harvest the seed for further propagation.

How to Make a Plumeria Rubra Plant Flower?

The ideal way to make a Plumeria Rubra plant flower is by mimicking the condition of tropical regions.

To do so, allow the Rubra plants to sit in direct sunlight for six hours daily at 60 to 80°F temperature.

Also, provide them with organic, nutrient-rich, well-draining soil of pH 6.2 to 6.8 and utilize phosphoric fertilizer (10-30-20) to encourage vigorous flowering.

Lastly, do not forget to keep them hydrated at humidity over 50% by leveraging weekly watering and regular misting.

Remember, overwatering issues can cause the premature dropping of flowers and buds.

Thus, water your Plumeria between dry periods and avoid the standing water conditions in the potted plants.

What to do After Plumeria Rubra Blooms?

Unfortunately, the spiral-shaped fleshy, fragrant flowers of Plumeria Rubra Frangipani are short-lived and fall off easily within a week after flowering.

As soon as they begin to die and turn brown, deadhead spent blooms to redirect plant energy toward new flower growth.

But you can let some healthy-looking flowers on the plant for pollination and fruiting.

Aim to prune or deadhead damaged or decaying flowers during the morning hours.

  • Get yourself ready by wearing protective gardening gloves.
  • Cut the branches at 45°, about two to three inches above a branching junction.
  • Prune about 12 inches above the branching junction of the plants if the tree is severely overgrown.
  • You can cut broken, dead, or dying branches during the pruning sessions.

Moreover, two or three new branches emerge from each cut region during the growing seasons.

Remember to sterilize your pruners with equal parts rubbing alcohol and water. Allow the tools to air dry between each cleaning.

Uses of Plumeria Rubra Flowers

Recipient of the prestigious “Award of Garden Merit,” Plumeria Rubra is native to Central America.

Theyboast several beneficial qualities, from medicinal to culinary purposes, symbolic meanings and characteristics in various cultures.

1. Landscaping Use

Plumeria Rubra is a hardy plant that grows under full sun, making it a pleasing orchard tree for xeriscaping.

The trees are also used in royal botanical gardens for ornamental decorations due to their flowers.

A bonus advantage of having Plumeria Rubra is that you can easily combine it with other trees to elevate the aesthetic appeal of your garden.

2. Medicinal Use

The beautiful Plumeria Rubra flowers are beneficial in every aspect, and their medicinal uses are ever-expanding.

Throughout Asia and Latin America, Rubra flowers are used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes mellitus, toothache, vaginal discharge, and gastrointestinal upsets.

Furthermore, the Plumeria Rubra flower extract is beneficial for relieving anxious effects.

Moreso, the flower’s aroma has a relaxing effect on the mind and the body.

The Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies stated Rubra flowers carry antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as they contain flavonoids and phenols.

Hence, the Plumeria flowers help ease swelling, fever, muscle stiffness, headache, and many others.

The oil extract from Plumeria Rubra flowers shows sedative effects helping you to sleep.

Besides that, the fruit of Plumeria Rubra, which forms after flowering, has medicinal uses in West Indies.

3. Cosmetic Use

Thanks to the sweet floral scent of Plumeria Rubra flowers, they are often used to extract essential oil in perfumes and cosmetics.

The oils of Plumeria Rubra flowers have significant moisturizing effects on the skin and protect you from heat.

So, they are used commercially for the preparation of body butter lotions.

Thus, you can rejuvenate your skin by gaining the aromatic advantage of the Plumeria Rubra flowers.

4. Traditional and Symbolic Value

Did you know Rubra can still produce flowers after it has been uprooted? This is why Buddhism uses Plumeria Rubra as a symbol of immortality.

In some cultures, Plumeria Rubra is commonly known as Pagoda or Temple tree, where people plant the tree in shrines or temples to create a sacred environment.

Especially in India, the Plumeria Rubra flower is known as Frangipani or West Indian Jasmine and is used as a wedding flower.

People of South India say Rubra flowers symbolize a married couple’s long-lasting bond, loyalty and a new beginning.

Image represents preparation of garlands using Plumeria rubra flower
Plumeria Rubra flowers are used for the preparation of garlands or necklaces.

Fun Fact! Women from Maui culture wear a Plumeria flower over their right ear if they are single and over the left ear if they are in a relationship.

If you look at women from Polynesian culture, you can see the Plumeria Rubra flowers around their necks as garlands and leis.

The fragrant flowers of Plumeria rubra are associated with love in the Chinese traditional practice of Feng Shui.

As Plumeria Rubra flowers offer various color palettes, each color has a distinct meaning and symbolism.

Color of Plumeria Rubra flowerMeaning
RedMessage of love and devotion
PinkRomance, gentleness and love
WhiteSpirituality and innocence
YellowJoy, happiness and optimism
OrangePositive energy, beauty, affection
PurpleNobility, royalty
GreenRenewal, nature and energy, optimism

Health Considerations to Keep in Mind

Plumeria Rubra belongs to the family Apocynaceae, a house full of toxic plants.

Additionally, don’t get deceived by the flower’s appearance, as they are highly toxic to humans if consumed in large amounts.

Image represents a warning gif that says to keep pets away
Decorating your pets with flowers of Plumeria Rubra is not okay!

As per the Medical Journal of Australia, milky sap from Plumeria Rubra flowers consists of cardiac glycoside that is fatal to pets and humans.

The sap also causes skin irritation, but you must consume a whole flower to get fatally ill.

Besides, you may experience symptoms like dizziness, headache, anxiety, gastrointestinal upsets, and blurred vision.

Hence, it is best to wear protective gear if you really need to come in contact with the plant.

Also, try to put potted Plumeria away in an area inside your house inaccessible to your pets.

Immediately call these helplines if you notice similar symptoms or suspect your pets or kids are eating Plumeria Rubra.

From Editorial Team

Aesthetic Yet Toxic Rubra!

Mind the poisonous sap of Rubra while incorporating flowers in garlands or when tucking them behind the ear.

Always aim for preventive measures like spraying pet-repellent chemicals and keeping Rubra away from pets to avoid accidental consumption.

Happy Gardening, Folks!

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