x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Plant Library: Plumeria embodies the glamorous tropics

Plumeria is everywhere you look, but that doesn't impact its ability to charm and delight. It's also remarkably easy to grow and perfectly at home in this part of the world.

Readily available, easy to grow and tolerant of poor soils and drought, Plumeria Obtusa is ideal for regional gardens.
Readily available, easy to grow and tolerant of poor soils and drought, Plumeria Obtusa is ideal for regional gardens.

There are many criteria for judging plants, but for me one of the key differences between a great plant and an ordinary one is the ability to transcend ubiquity, to retain interest, charm and delight, despite cropping up almost everywhere.

Roses and tulips in their near-infinite variety have that quality, as does the humble daffodil, and to that list, I would add Plumeria.

With its lacquer-like, dark-green leaves, delicate white and yellow-throated flowers and sweet, heady fragrance, few flowers so eloquently encapsulate the glamour and the beauty of the tropics. The plant is a living corsage.

Remarkably, Plumeria is readily available, easy to grow, does well in full sun and is tolerant of poor soils and drought. It is also evergreen, flourishes when grown in a container, and makes both an excellent shrub and small tree. Plumeria can be easily trained to adopt a pleasing form but care should be taken in the selection of very young plants. One whose branches emerge quickly from the main stem is a better option if you want to grow Plumeria as a large shrub. Propagation is from cuttings whose sap should be allowed to dry before planting.