Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Exotic plumeria flowers with their velvety texture and sweet fragrance are absolutely my favorite flower. About seventeen years ago I purchased a plumeria cutting at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida. I brought it home, laid it on my kitchen counter and promptly ignored it for months. Then one day it caught my eye and on closer inspection I noticed little leaves sprouting from the top! This is one hardy little plant I thought to myself. I read the piece of paper that had accompanied my purchase and followed the directions, which basically were to stick it in a pot of soil and water. My plumeria lived in that pot for a few years before I finally planted it in the yard. The plant was always pretty, but flowers were not to be found. At this time I was bouncing back and forth between California and Florida and in 1999 when we sold the beach house and moved inland, I dug up that little tree (with permission from the new owner) and moved it with me. When I moved here permanently in 2000, I planted my oft neglected plumeria in the ground once again and it has rewarded me ever since. My little tree now stands proudly at about 11-feet tall and every year blooms profusely.
Not only do I enjoy my beautiful plumeria tree, so do some of the local wildlife. We have hundreds of little lizards that live in our yard and they are very territorial. This is the lizard who has made the tree his home. I was excited when I opened the photo on my computer and saw his lady friend poking her head up from one of the leaves. I took this photo yesteday.
A couple of months ago I was out shooting in the yard and captured this ladybug feasting on a few aphids. The ladybugs help keep the aphid population in check.
When the weather cools the leaves of plumerias fall off and the plant goes dormant. This is what my tree looked like on March 25th of this year. The leaves are just starting to grow back and you can see two seed pods on the right.
Two years ago it developed a seed pod, which I pulled off the tree too early, spoiling the seeds. Last year four pods formed and I started researching how to properly grow plumerias from seed. The pods must mature on the plant for 8–9 months, so I patiently waited and kept a close eye. Last week I was again rewarded by my little tree when the pods had sufficiently dried and were starting to open. This begins my new project—plumeria farming!
I believe that most folks who raise plumerias call themselves growers, since members of my family have been farmers (or planters) in America since 1607, I've decided to go with plumeria farmer.
First things first, I harvested my seed pods and gently extracted the precious seeds.
Next I readied my peat pots by soaking them in water until they expanded to about an inch and a half tall. I carefully planted the seeds, leaving the papery wing above the soil line and gently pinching the soil against the seed. I'm keeping them very moist for the first two days, so that the seeds will plump and then I'll keep them just moist enough to sprout, but not so wet as to cause rot.
From what I've read, I can expect my seeds to spout in 3–14 days. Keep your fingers crossed with me. I'm planning to document the progress of my plumeria farm each Tuesday, so if they don't sprout I guess I have to find a new project.
I'm keeping The Farm outside in the sun, but bringing it in at night. This will accomplish two things — I won't forget to check the soil moisture each morning and evening and if one of our tropical storms comes through while I'm sleeping, the little farm will not be washed away.
Over all, it will take three to five years before my seedlings (hopefully) will start branching and blooming. After about three years they'll be 3-5 feet tall, so this is a long-term project. I planted about fifty seeds and will very happy if a dozen or so grow. Time will tell if I am as successful as my ancestors.
Just to show you how much passion I have for plumerias I thought I would share a photo with you. When I first started designing custom Keds, the very first pair came from a photo of a plumeria blossom I isolated in Photoshop and then repeated in a pattern. I used a yellow background to signify the sun. They are still my favorite pair and the second most popular in my store, the most popular are the flamingos. That's okay, flamingos are my favorite bird! The emblem here goes on the matching t-shirt — surrounded by beautiful plumeria flowers this traditional Hawaiian greeting translates as, "May there be friendship or love between us!" Pronounced: ah loh' hah KAH'oo (w)ah.
Since I don't expect much to happen over the next seven days, next Tuesday I'm going to do a post on how to make a Hawaiian lei with plumeria blossoms. Hope to see you then!
Update: Since this is the first posting of The Farm, I'm also going to use it for my Outdoor Wednesday post this week. If there is anyone out there in blogland who has experience growing plumerias from seed, please feel free to offer your advice. I'll be back next Wednesday with my normal OW post, I have pictures of a most unusual tree to share with you (I can feel the suspense mounting). Be sure to visit our hostess with the mostess, Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts!
I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!