Plumeria are small trees grown in zones 10 and 11 that are much loved for their extremely fragrant blooms. While some cultivars of plumeria are sterile and will never produce seeds, other varieties will produce seed pods that look similar to green beans. These seed pods will split open, in time, dispersing 20 to 100 seeds. Read on to learn about harvesting plumeria seed pods to grow new plumeria plants.
Seed Pods on Plumeria
A plumeria plant can take up to five years to send out its first blooms. In non-sterile plumeria cultivars, these blooms will be pollinated usually by Sphinx moths, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Once pollinated, plumeria flowers will fade and begin to grow into seed pods.
These seed pods will take eight to ten months to mature into viable plumeria seeds. Propagating plumeria by seed is a test of patience but, generally, is a better method of propagation for plumeria than taking cuttings.
When and How to Harvest Plumeria Seeds
Plumeria seeds must mature on the plant. Removing plumeria seed pods before they have fully matured will stop them from ripening and you will be left with seeds that will not germinate. Seeds mature in long, fat, green pods. As these pods ripen, they will begin to look wilted and dry. When they are ripe, the plumeria seed pods will split open and disperse seeds that look similar to maple seed “helicopters.”
Since it is impossible to know exactly when these seed pods are going to ripen and disperse seed, many growers wrap nylon pantyhose around the maturing seed pods. This nylon allows the seed pods to absorb sunlight and have proper air circulation, all while catching the dispersed seeds.
Once your nylon-wrapped plumeria seed pods have ripened and split, you can remove the seed pods from the plant and use the seeds. Sow these plumeria seeds directly in the soil or, if you are saving plumeria seeds for later, store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry place.
Stored plumeria seeds can be viable for up to two years, but the fresher the seed, the better the odds of it germinating. Plumeria seeds usually sprout within 3 to 14 days if grown in the right conditions.