2-20-2018 Updates – Planting Plumeria Seeds

Pre-soaking Plumeria Seeds
Pre-soaking Plumeria Seeds for 2 hours

I started plugs and seeds soaking on 2-16-2018 and so far I’ve planted a total of 216 seeds consisting of  Jackie, Metallica, Jack’s Purple, Bonnie Fox, Salmon Jack, and others. All seeds planted so far are grown hoping for new cultivars.


Materials Needed:
Plumeria Seeds, something to soak the seeds in, 2” x 3” Gro-Tech FlexiPlugs and trays, Vitazyme, Carl Pool’s Root ActivatorPro-Mix BX MycorrhizaeMetal Labels or plastic plant markers and permanent felt tip marker.

Each year I try to verify the products and methods by experimenting with variations on last years proven methods. This year I’m comparing the use of FlexiPlugs and Pro-Mix as starter methods. I also use a control tray from what I determined to be the best method from last year.

  • I put 72 seeds in plug trays filled with Pro-Mix and the rest in trays filled with FlexiPlugs.
    • The reason I’m trying the Pro-Mix is to see if the Mycorrhizae makes a difference on newly planted seeds and young seedling.

      Pre-soaked Flexi Plugs without seeds
      Pre-soaked Flexi Plugs without seeds
  • I pre-soaked older 2016 seeds for two hours – four hours. The seeds that didn’t plump up and felt paper think, I discarded.
    • The reason is to test the viability of the seeds and enhance germination time.
  • I pre-soaked the plugs for about 1 hour or longer until the plugs are completely saturated. I use a mix of 1 oz Vitazyme, 2 oz Root Activator per gallon of water.
    • The reason I use Vitazyme is that it is a biostimulant that fosters plant growth and development throughout the seedlings life cycle from seed germination to plant maturity in a number of ways.
    • The reason I use Root Activator is that it is a 100% natural product which safely promotes regeneration of roots through increased elongation rates. Root Activator stimulates fast root growth, reduces transplant shock, and hastens plant establishment. Also, the root activators are designed to attach to the soil and not wash out as easily as root stimulators.

      Seeds in Pro-Mix
      Seeds in Pro-Mix
  • The remaining seeds were placed directly in the plugs.
    • The reason I place them in the plugs without soaking is they all appear to be viable and by pre-soaking the plugs I have provided plenty of moisture to germinate the seeds.
  •  After planting the seeds, each tray was soaked overnight in a mix of 1 oz Vitazyme, 2 oz Root Activator and 10 drops of Merlin’s Magic Potion per gallon of water. Allowing the plugs and seeds to be saturated with the mix.
  • Then I placed the trays in a location that gets about 7 hours of full sun. Day time times here are now in the mid to upper 80s and nighttime temps are in the low 70s.
    • The reason I place in full sun right away is mainly for the heat. All a seed needs to germinate is moisture and warmth. The full sun and air flow lessen the chance of damping off. Damping off typically occurs when a seed is planted in cool, wet soil and is further increased by poor soil drainage and poor air flow.
  • Seeds in Plugs
    Seeds in Plugs

    I water three to four time a day, keeping the seedling mix and plugs very moist. I have to be careful and watch the Pro-Mix, I expect it to hold more moisture than the plugs.

Note: Cotyledon or the seed leaf is involved in the storage of food reserves. In plumeria, the seed leaf exists in pairs and show above the ground and perform photosynthesis, a function similar to a true leaf. A new seedling can and will take up nutrients even while seeds leaves are still present. I soak the soil and plugs to be sure nutrients are available as soon as needed.

2-20-2018 Updates – Planting Plumeria Seeds

Plumeria Seed Selection

Plumeria seeds are fun to grow and can provide you with many years of pleasure. Before you begin you should consider seed choices and the limitations of your growing environment and conditions. Something to remember, Plumeria Rubra seeds do not grow true to their parents and they will take up lots of space and attention until they bloom. The average time to bloom is from two the three years, some shorter and some can take much longer.

Plumeria seeds in open seed pod.

Choosing the Right Plumeria Seeds

Before exploring how to best grow your plumeria seeds and seedlings, start with the right seed. If you intend to grow for grafting rootstock or you want to grow a new cultivar, you should use the best quality plumeria seeds possible.


Planting seeds to grow a new cultivar

Growing seedlings in the hope of getting new spectacular seedlings the most exciting journeys you can have with plumeria. Caring and babying of your seedlings for year after year waiting until it is old enough to bloom is a true labor of love. The anticipation when you see the first inflorescence starting to form is off the charts! If the flower turns out to be just like so many others, it is such a letdown, but you are ready to move on and plant more. But, in that rare case, your plumeria flower turns out to be a world-class spectacular flower, then it’s all worth it and you are ready to plant more. Did I mention that growing plumeria seedling IS very addictive?

Over the past 20 years, I have grown seedlings hoping to get that spectacular plumeria with some success. After joining Florida Colors in 2012 I have been fortunate to be able to dramatically increase my love for growing seedlings by growing several thousand each year for future plumeria.

What I’ve learned about seed selection while growing seedling for new cultivars:

  • Choose potential seed parents that have the characteristics you are hoping for in your seedling. 
  • Obtain seeds from trusted growers.
  • Get to know as much as possible about the pod and pollen parents as possible.
  • Find out as much as possible about what plumeria was growing next to the pod parent.
  • Do your best to research and find out if the parents have produced any good seedlings.
  • Always find out how old the seeds are. The older the seed the less of a germination rate. The germination rate depending on how old they are, how they were stored, the health of the pod tree, when and how they were harvested, and of course the cultivar.
  • Select seeds that look healthy and are not paper thin.
  • I have noticed over the last 4 years that the dark seeds seem to produce the darker seedlings.
  • Note: Seedlings with dark leaves and/or darker trunks have a better chance of producing flowers with color.
  • Note: Even the darkest seedling may produce a white flower.

Planting seeds for grafting rootstock

Growing seedlings grafting: Grafting a known plumeria cultivar onto a seedling with a superior root system is about the only way you can improve an existing plumeria cultivar. The rootstock will not cause any effects on the characteristics of the plumeria. All the characteristics above the ground, flowers, fragrance, growth habit and other characteristics will remain the same. Grafting a plumeria known to typically have weak root systems on a strong seedling root system will allow the plumeria to benefit greatly. The stronger the root system allows more nutrients to be absorbed, giving it a better chance to fight off disease and a better chance of survival. Typically seeds grown for rootstock will be allowed to grow for 1 to 3 years before being used for grafting.

Over the past 40 years, Florida Colors Nursery has grown over a hundred thousand seedlings for grafting purposes.

What we have found about selecting seeds for rootstock:

  • Seeds from pod parents with strong vigorous root systems, typically produce seedlings with a good root system.
  • Seeds from pod parents with light-colored flowers, typically produce good rootstock.
  • Seedling with light-colored stalks, leaves, typically have good root systems and are good for rootstock.
  • Dark-colored seeds will produce darker colored stalk and leaves and are typically not good for rootstock.
  • Seedlings with dark stalks and/or leaves, typically have the greatest graft failure rate.
  • Seedlings that are small and slow-growing typically are not good for grafting.
  • Of course, multi-branched and seedlings that branch a lot are typically not good for grafting.
  • And young green seedlings are typically not good for grafting.

Notice I use typically on every line because there are always exceptions to the rule when it comes to Plumeria.

2-2-2018 – Planting Seeds Project Update

2-2-2018 Update, Starting with the Basic Project Details.

Plumeria Seed Pod ready for plantingPlanting seed weather in Homestead looks good enough to start my seed planting and seedling projects. The forecast says the lows are going to be around 60 and the highs around 80 for the next two weeks. This is the earliest I’ve planted plumeria seeds outdoors. They will be in full sun open to the weather. It will be interesting to see how they do. I expect them to take longer than my normal to germinate. I will be planting some more around March 1, to see if there are differences. 

Here is the updated list of seeds I’m planning on planting. The ones in bold, I waiting on fresh pods to open. I always try to plant all the seeds in a pod, if possible.

Gina, Hope, Jackie, Metallica, Super Round (J115), Jack’s Purple, Dwarf Singapore Pink, Mardi Gras, Aztec Gold, Waimea, Bonnie Fox, Raspberry Sundae, Salmon Jack….so far!

Materials Needed:
Plumeria Seeds, something to soak the seeds in, 2” x 3” Gro-Tech FlexiPlugs and trays, Vitazyme, Carl Pool’s Root Activator, Bioblast 7-7-7, Pro-Mix BX Mycorrhizae, Excalibur VI 11-11-13, Metal Labels or plastic plant markers and permanent felt tip marker.

OK, the bench cleared off, containers and trays cleaned, plugs on to soak and organized the materials and products I use to germinate the seedlings. The plant is to start soaking seeds on Saturday.

I’ve decided to try several methods to see if they make any difference and to give you an idea which will work for you.

Basic Planned Regimen for 2018 Seed Projects –  substituting Pro-Mix BX Mycorrhizae mix for FlexiPlugs

The trays I use have 36 compartments, so most of the trays will have 36 seeds in each with 2″ x 3″ compartments. I will be comparing germination and growth differences between the FlexiPlugs and using ProMix soil.

Phase I – Soaking the Seeds before Planting

Plumeria seeds need moisture and warmth to germinate. They do not require light to germinate.

  1. First Dip seeds in a mix of Vitazyme and warm (not hot) water and allow to dry before proceeding.
  2. Soak seeds in warm water until plump, about 2-4 hours, overnight is ok. A good rule of thumb: Seeds that sink after absorbing water are usually viable. Seeds that float are normally not viable. Soaking seeds gives them a head start and a good way to checks viability.
  3. I sometimes use the paper towel method for germination.
    1. Place the seeds between two paper towels, wet the towels, put in a warm place, keep the towels moist and do not let them dry out. When you see roots it is time to plant the seed. 
      Caution: It’s important you do not continue to soak after roots start showing. They should be put in soil or plugs at that point. Waiting will only increase the chances of damaging the roots. Do not allow the seeds to dry out. 

Phase II – Soaking and Preparing the Plugs and ProMix.

  • Soaking Plugs: Materials: 2″ x 3″ FlexiPlugs, 36 holes Plug Tray for 2″ x 3″ Plugs, Two flat trays to hold the FlexiPlug trays. (one with drainage and one without), Vitazyme and Root Activator.
    • Soak plugs in Vitazyme (1 oz. per Gal) and Root Activator (2 oz. per gal) Soak for 1 to 2 hours.
    • Place the plugs in the trays, then plant the seeds in the FlexiPlugs with the flags and deep enough to cover the body of the seed with the flag sticking up and above the soil and water well.
    • Place ProMix soil in the trays and gently tamp until firm, plant the seeds in the ProMix with the flags and deep enough to cover the body of the seed with the flag sticking up and above the soil.
    • Water well with leftover Vitazyme and Root Activator mix. 
  • Drenching the Soil: Materials: ProMix, Same 36 holes Plug Tray used for 2″ x 3″ Plugs, Vitazyme and Root Activator.
    Because the 2″ x 3″ plugs aren’t readily available, I’ve decided to test using the ProMix in the Plug Tray instead of the plugs.

    • Fill the plug tray with ProMix soil and gently tamp until firm
    • Fill a Plug Tray flat without out holes about 2/3 full with Vitazyme (1 oz. per Gal) and Root Activator (2 oz. per gal) 
    • Place the Plug Tray filled with ProMix into the tray without drain holes. Allow to Soak for 1 hour or so.
    • Lift the Plug tray and allow to drain some, then place the tray with the plugs in a tray flat that has holds.
    • Plant the seeds in the ProMix soil deep enough to cover the body of the seed with the flag sticking out above the soil.
    • Water well with leftover Vitazyme and Root Activator mix. 
  • Using 10″ x 16″ x 3″ Flat Trays: Materials: Seeds, Seedling soil mix, Plug Tray, Vitazyme and Root Activator.
    • Fill a flat tray with good drain holes or slots about 2/3 full of good seedling soil.
    • Water well with Vitazyme (1 oz. per Gal) and Root Activator (2 oz. per gal) 

Phase III – Planting the Seeds

  • Labeling Trays: Before you start planting your seeds be sure to prepare labels and be sure to label every group of seeds with a minimum of the date and cultivar. Create a label for each individual seedling you are planting. 
  • Growing plumeria from seeds for new cultivars and/or rootstock.
    • Growing Seeds For New Cultivars: Materials: Seeds, 2″ x 3″ FlexiPlugs, Plug Tray, Vitazyme and Root Activator.
    • Plant the seeds in ProMix soil deep enough to cover the body of the seed with the flag sticking out above the soil.
    • Water well with leftover Vitazyme and Root Activator mix. 
  • Growing Seeds for Rootstock: Materials: Seeds, Seedling soil mix, Plug Tray, Vitazyme and Root Activator. 
    • Using the flat tray from above, place the seeds horizontal (flat) on the soil and cover with an additional 1/2″ or so of soil.
    • Water well with a Vitazyme and Root Activator mix.

Place in a sunny location, If your nighttime average 60 degrees or above at night you are safe to put the seeds outside. Seeds will germinate and grow best in Springtime and early Summer. Warmer weather helps germination, but the soil over 95 degrees could slow down germination. `The hotter the weather to more often they will need watering.  I think full sun is the reason I’ve had almost no problems with damping off or seedling rot. Caution: In hot regions, you may need some shade

Watering your seeds

  • Keep plugs very moist. 2-3 times a day. The FlexiPlugs are foam injected peat plugs, that have proven to provide great air circulation even when wet and the plumeria seeds grow great. Although decomposition takes much longer than normal plugs, I feel it is worth the trade-off. 
  • For the ProMix in plug trays and the flats, water twice a day to keep the soil moist. Do not allow the soil to dry out.

Seed Germination – your seeds will germinate in 5-15 days, depending on the cultivar, the method used and the growing conditions.

Phase IV – Young Seedlings

After Germination, the seeds will put out roots, the seed leaves (Cotyledon) will break the surface and the seed coat will fall off and true leaves with start growing.

The seed leaves (Cotyledon) contain nutrients to help keep seedling alive until the roots can grow enough to start providing nutrients and until the real leaves have grown to perform photosynthesis to process the nutrients. 

After 3 or 4 real leaves have grown, foliar feed with Bioblast (1 tablespoon per gal). Remember when the seed leaves go away the seedling will need a source of nutrients. Caution: Apply only Early or Late in the day, not in strong sunlight, it may burn the leaves.

Phase V – Transplanting

Materials: ProMix or Seedling soil mix, 2 gal pots, 7 1/2 gal squat pots. Vitazyme and Root Activator, Excalibur and a Moisture Meter

Create a label for each seedling and be careful to label correctly with a minimum or the date planted and cultivar. We put the letter “S” on the tag to clearly indicate it is a seedling.

When you see several roots coming out the bottom and/or sides of the plug or tray it’s time to transplant. 

When transplanting I fertilize with Excalibur IX 11-11-13 (3 tablespoons for 2  pot and 5 tablespoons for the 7 1/2 gal pots) Mix in top 1” of soil to cover fertilizer granules. I suggest 9 months because you can apply again in 9 months providing nutrients all year long. Caution: If you can’t keep the seedling growing all year long, or depending on your growing season, it may be better to use Excalibur IV and apply twice a year.

Be sure the Plugs are completely covered by soil, this will help them to decompose and prevent premature drying out.

This year, I plan on transplanting the 2″ x 3″ plugs to 2 gals and 7 1/2 gal squat pots. I’m expecting the 7 1/2 gal pots may help the growth rate.

Soil mixtures:

  • I’m using Pro-Mix BX Mycorrhizae for the soil mix for growing seedlings for new cultivars.
  • A good seedling mix is good for growing rootstock.

Water well after transplanting with a mix of Vitazyme and Root Activator.

Phase VI – Extended Fertilizing and Care

Materials: Excalibur VI or IX, BioBlast and a Moisture Meter

Foliar feed every two weeks with a mix of BioBlast (1 tablespoon to 1 gal of water) and Vitazyme (2 tablespoons to 1 gal of water), early or late in the evening.

If possible keep seedlings growing for the first year by keeping in a warm, sunny location. Additional Lighting may be needed.

Water as needed, allow the pot to almost dry out and water well making sure all the soil is evenly watered. Do not allow to bet completely dry. A moisture meter is always a good tool to have.