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Plumeria Rubra Flower: Characteristics and Care Guide

When looking at the Plumeria rubra flower, I always think that sometimes you don’t need to be sweet to attract everyone.

By sweet, I mean the flower lacks nectar, but the plant compensates for this with fragrance.

Generally, 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.

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

The Plumeria rubra flower’s sweet smell helps me wake up and start a day. Besides, the flowers harbor many characteristics that will compel you to get the plant for yourself.

So, keep reading this entire article before you pass any judgment about the flowers of Plumeria rubra.

How Often Does Plumeria Rubra Flower?

Interestingly, Plumeria rubra looks like a shrub due to its height but is actually a small tree.

But, don’t get deceived by its stature as this small tree produces different colors of blooms throughout its flowering season.

Plumeria flowers show themselves during the early months of May and do not shy away until October.

The flowering begins from early summer to mid-autumn, with the flower clusters persisting for about a week.  

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

Image represents growth of Plumeria rubra from seeds and cuttings
The flowering of Plumeria rubra takes one to four years from seeds and cuttings.

Besides, by pruning the old branches, you can make your Plumeria produce vigorous flowering branches during summers.

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

Furthermore, there is good news for indoor plant-lovers as Plumeria rubra is the only species of Plumeria that is best for growing inside your home.

Make sure to 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?

Take a look at the table below to get more interesting facts about these flowers.

InflorescenceTerminal corymbose
Blooming PeriodBeginning 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)

Moreover, horticulturists and gardeners often prefer to plant Plumeria rubra because of its flower colors.

Image represents color variations of Plumeria rubra flowers
Plumeria rubra shows variations in flower colors.

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

Plumeria flowers are also known by their common names such as “red frangipani” or “frangipani flowers” have significance with their color or fragrance. Such as Plumeria rubra with pinkish-red flower is called red jasmine.

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

If you are searching for the most fragrant Plumeria variety, try to plant Singapore Plumeria that will please anyone’s nose with its jasmine-citrusy scent.

Pollination of Plumeria Rubra Flower 

Although the flowers of Plumeria look incomplete, like it is missing a few parts, they actually are “perfect.”

Additionally, male (anther) and female (Stigma) parts are present in the same flower, making them bisexual in nature.

Furthermore, bisexual flowers can self-pollinate easily, aiding in fruit and seed formation!

However, due to the lack of nectar in flowers, pollination occurs through a different approach in the Plumeria rubra trees.

Flowers of Plumeria rubra pollinate using a deceptive pollination technique, where the flower releases a false aroma that attracts hawk moths to help them in the pollination process.

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 lack pollinators, rely on hand pollination to pollinate the flowers.

Hand Pollination in Plumeria Rubra Flowers

Hand pollination in Plumeria rubra is feasible by using the “twirling method” to create a basic “twirler,” which might overwhelm some gardeners.

Pro Instruction: Place a three inches long fishing wire with one or two inches protruding out to the pointed end of a wooden skewer and wrap some tape to hold it in place.

After making a twirler, you are ready to pollinate the flowers. Take help from the step-by-step guide below.

  • You need to pollinate 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.
  • It is preferable to collect blooms that are one or two days old to preserve the viability of the pollens.
  • Grab a flower and gently insert the twirler inside the corolla tube, just enough to touch the Stigma.
  • Rotate the twirler in clock and anticlockwise directions so that pollens 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.

After completion, you must let the plant do all the work to form fruits and set the seeds.

Besides, you can also take help from the video below about the twirling method of pollination in Plumeria rubra.

Plumeria rubra sets fruits as long as the tree produces flowers, and you can notice that the oblong fruits are dark in color when the winged seeds are released.

However, harvest the seeds within 3 to 14 days because the wind disperses the seeds at far distances.

How to Make a Plumeria Rubra Plant Flower?

Flowers of Plumeria rubra are known for their tropical sweet fragrance and if you want your home to be aromatic in the same way, make sure that the plant produces flowers right on time.   

Since the tree likes a warm and sunny climate, you need to mimic the conditions of tropical regions like Central America to make Plumeria bloom.

You can complete the brief instructions to make your Plumeria plant blossom from the table below.

SunlightSix hours of daily direct sunlight
WateringSpring and Summers: once a week or twice a week
Winter: Cease the watering
Soil and pHType: Organic and well-draining with perlite and peat mix
pH: Between 6.2 and 6.8
HumidityRelative humidity of around 50%
TemperatureWarm temperatures between 18 to 29 degrees Celsius
Avoid exposing the plant to temperature below 12 degrees Celsius
FertilizerLiquid fertilizer with NPK ratio of 10-30-20
Application: Once in every two or three weeks
Slow-releasing fertilizer: once in every two to three months
Image represents Plumeria rubra flowers blooming under the full sun
Plumeria rubra flowers prefer full sunlight to bloom.

Pro Tip! Take your potted Plumeria plants indoors when the days grow shorter during winters.

You can also make your Plumeria rubra bloom under grow lights to give it lighting conditions during cold periods.

However, your Plumeria flowers and buds may drop early than expected. Normally this condition occurs by excess watering causing root rot.

Hence, it is necessary to water your Plumeria between dry periods and avoid the standing water conditions in the potted plants.

What to do After Plumeria Rubra Blooms?

Flowers of Plumeria do not require regular pruning as they fall off easily within a week after flowering.

However, you can use freshly fallen flowers to decorate and prepare garlands. But, keeping the flowers fresh is a high priority!

You may keep the flower clusters to last for one to four days at most by keeping them moist with frequent sprays of water.

Additionally, you can use pruners to trim old or diseased branches during late winter or early spring to promote the growth of healthy branches for the summer.

Image represents pruning techniques of Plumeria rubra branches
Pruning the old branches at the junctions helps promote the growth of new branches.

To prune your Plumeria tree, grab essential tools like pruners and gloves, and follow the step-by-step guide below to give your plant a proper trim.

  • 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 also cut the broken, dead, or dying branches during the pruning sessions.

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

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

Uses of Plumeria Rubra Flowers

Do you know that Plumeria rubra is a recipient of the prestigious “Award of Garden Merit” for its outstanding qualities?

Besides, the fragrant flowers of Plumeria rubra produce a noticeable aroma among all the plants.

Furthermore, this deciduous shrub borrows its nativeness from parts of Central America, making it perfect to use for landscaping. 

But it does not end here! The flower boasts medicinal and culinary qualities with symbolic meaning in various cultures.

1. Landscaping Use 

The plant is also hardy and grows under full sun, making it a pleasing orchard tree for xeriscaping. Besides, the plant is easy to prune and self-sustaining.

Even in temples, the whole plant is recognized as a temple tree as they carry a holy meaning.

The trees are also used in royal botanical gardens for ornamental decorations due to their flowers, proving Plumeria’s importance.

Additionally, you can enjoy the scented and colorful blossoms of the Plumeria rubra almost yearly.

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 

If there is an award show like “beauty with benefits” among plants, then Plumeria rubra would be the winner every time.

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

Flowers of Plumeria rubra are used throughout Asia and Latin America as a component in traditional medicine to treat diabetes mellitus, toothache, vaginal discharge, and gastrointestinal upsets.

The fruit of Plumeria rubra, which forms after flowering, has medicinal uses in West Indies.

If you are suffering from anxiety problems, the flower extract is very useful for relieving anxious effects.

Besides, the flowers have the property to scavenge the free radicals and possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

According to the Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Plumeria rubra flowers in due to the presence of flavonoids and phenols.

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

3. Cosmetic Use

Do you know that the fragrant flowers of Plumeria rubra are associated with love in the Chinese traditional practice of Feng Shui?

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

If you are an insomniac, the oil from the flowers will surely calm your mind and produce sedative effects helping you to sleep.

Besides, the typical fragrance of the Pumeria rubra flowers has made it popular for extraction of essential oils used in perfumes and cosmetics. Thanks to the chemical constituents like linalool, geraniol and nerolidol.

The oils of Plumeria rubra flowers have great moisturizing effects on the skin and also protect you from heat. So, they are used commercially for the preparation of body butter lotions.

Hence, you can rejuvenate your skin by gaining the aromatic advantage of the Plumeria rubra flowers.

4. Traditional and Symbolic Value

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

In some cultures, these flowering trees are known by their common name, “pagoda tree or temple tree,” where they are planted in shrines or temples to create a sacred environment.

In some cultures, the Plumeria rubra flowers, known by their common name as “frangipani,”  symbolize new life and beginnings such that people gift the flowers of the trees to the one who is trying something new in his/her life!

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

In many countries with tropical climates, people use Plumeri rubra flowers as a symbol in traditional attire.

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 to assert their marital status among the community.

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

Health Considerations to Keep in Mind

Plumeria rubra belongs to the family Apocynaceae which is notoriously monikered as the “Dogbane Family,” which is enough to remind you that the plant is toxic to your pets!

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

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

According to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia, milky sap from Plumeria rubra flowers consists of cardiac glycoside that is fatal to animals and humans alike.

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

Besides, upon eating the flower, you may experience symptoms like dizziness, headache, anxiety, gastrointestinal upsets, and blurring of vision.

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

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

However, if you, your pets, or your family members are showing the above symptoms, get help and immediately call any one of the mentioned numbers.


Plumeria flowers are one of the most popular ornamentals in the world, known for their color palette and fragrance. 

These flowers are formed in bunches, making them the perfect blossom for stringing garlands and tucking behind the ear or in hair arrangement.

However, do not let your curious pets and children go around the plant during the flowering seasons.

Besides the risks, you can be a lucky gardener to have a Plumeria rubra tree, getting a reward with clusters of scented flowers once you treat it with all the required conditions.

Happy gardening, folks!

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