Before beginning, gather:

  • Cutting (with a calloused-over end)
  • 1-gallon black plastic nursery pot
  • Cactus/Palm mix soil
  • Perlite or pumice
  • Rootone or other rooting hormone (optional)
  • Water
  • Stake (optional)
  • Twist-tie or garden tape (optional)
  • Warm spot (and eventually, a sunny one)

1. Use a 1-gallon black plastic nursery pot to root cuttings. Black plastic will collect the most heat, which is what cuttings need to root. All but the hugest cuttings can be started in a 1-gallon pot (available at home improvement stores and nurseries).

2. Create a soil mix of two parts cactus mix to one part Perlite or pumice (available at home improvement stores and nurseries.)

3. Fill the pot with four inches of moist soil mix.

4. (Optional) Dip the end of the cutting in a rooting hormone like Rootone. Shake off any excess. Look for a rooting hormone that is also a fungicide, which helps prevent root rot.

5. Place the cutting in the center of the pot and backfill the pot with enough soil mix to seat the cutting firmly in the pot.

6. If the cutting is large enough to be wiggly, install a stake and tie the cutting to it. (You can also use duct tape.)

7. Place the cutting in a warm spot (not baking in direct sun) with good ventilation and air flow. Do not move it. Resist the urge to water it. Ignore it.

The number one reason why a plumeria plant dies is overwatering!

8. The red “claws:  at the tips of the branches will become leaves. This may take a while, three to four weeks at least. Resist the urge to water.

9. Once the cutting has two or more leaves that are one to two inches long, water the cutting and move it to a sunnier spot. Remember, no leaves, no roots.

10. When the leaves are five inches long, acclimate the plant to 6-8 hours of full sun a day; wrap the trunk in aluminum foil if it begins to burn. 

Most plumerias die from overwatering. Do not water potted plumerias until the soil dries out. 

Here in southern California, in November or December, the leaves will fall off and the plant will go dormant. Place the pot against the house or under eaves to minimize rain and prop up a corner of the pot to allow any excess water to run out of the pot. Don’t water the plant again until spring; if it’s a dry and windy winter and the stem looks shrunken, mist the stem with water.