2019 Project – Planting and Growing Plumeria from Seeds

My favorite way to germinate and grow plumeria seeds.
After soaking I placed the Camelot seeds in FCN FlexiPlugs leaving their flags sticking out. After soaking for 4 hours, 68 out of 70 seeds passed the viability test. Usually, viable seed will soak up enough water to cause them to sink to the bottom of the container. The plumeria seed embryo is the part of a seed that contains the earliest forms of a plant’s roots, stem, and leaves. The two that didn’t sink in the water appeared to have underdeveloped embryos.

After soaking I placed the Camelot seeds in FCN FlexiPlugs leaving their flags sticking out. (Soaking Plumeria Seeds) After soaking for 4 hours, 68 out of 70 seeds passed the viability test. Usually, a viable seed will soak up enough water to cause them to sink to the bottom of the container. The plumeria seed embryo is the part of a seed that contains the earliest forms of a plant’s roots, stem, and leaves. The two that didn’t sink in the water appeared to have underdeveloped embryos.

This year my experiments are one to determine the benefits of correcting pH and two to determine if growing seedlings in nutrient saturated FlexiPlugs until time to transplant into pots is beneficial.

Similar to or maybe a version of hydroponics.

Day 1, 2/16/2019

Camelot Plumeria Seeds in FCN FlexiPlugs
Day 1, 2/16/2019
Plumeria Seeds in FCN FlexiPlugs
Day 1, 2/16/2019
Plumeria Seeds in FCN FlexiPlugs
Day 14, 3/3/2019
Hope Seedling in FCN FlexiPlugs

Hope Seedling in FCN FlexiPlugs. What I look for when evaluating my seedlings. When seedlings have a dark trunk, dark leaves with dark veins in the leaf, I believe they have a greater chance of having a colorful flower. Of course, there is no guarantee. This seedling was 19 Days old on 3/7/19 and about 3″ tall.
Camelot seedlings, March 17th, 2019. 29 days Old, time to start transplanting.

Camelot seedling, March 17th, 2019, After 29 days I’m starting to see roots emerge from the plugs.
2019 Project – Planting and Growing Plumeria from Seeds

Growing Plumeria From Seed

Whether you plan on growing plumeria for pleasure or profit, you should know growing from seeds is a major commitment that grows bigger and bigger every year. Growing a plumeria from seed is the only way to produce a new cultivar. Typically it will take a plumeria 2-3 years to bloom and sometimes much longer. I believe only 1 out of 500 seedlings is worthy of growing to the point of being a commercially viable plumeria, but 1 out of 100 will be considered a keeper for most growers. And, it could take as long as 10 years to have enough product to bring to market. This is the main reason the newest cultivars cost more.

So, if you have the commitment and really want to make an incredible journey, I encourage you to grow plumeria from seed. It is a very rewarding journey and the feeling you get when you see YOUR seedling blooming for the fist time is a feeling you will never forget. It won’t mater if it is a world class plumeria flower or just a common white. The first is always special, but you will have that feeling of anticipation and excitement with every new seedling bloom.

Growing Plumeria from seeds has been my passion for many years. This year is no different, it’s time to try new things and have new successes and of course failures. Armed with all the data from past years, it an ongoing goal to determine what the best methods are for my growing environment, needs and budget. Some methods may be outstanding, but for me they are far too labor intensive. Some products may work great, but may be just too expensive to justify using. With all this in mind, the first thing to do is develop a plan for the next seedling project.

Plumeria Seed Selection 

IT’S EXTREMELY RARE FOR PLUMERIA SEEDS TO GROW TRUE TO IT’S PARENT(S). This is a very important fact to know. The good news, you can expect plumeria seeds to inherent some of its parent’s characteristics possibly going back 7 generations. The bad news is, most will inherent the less desirable characteristics. So the selection of which seeds you want grow is very important.

Selecting healthy seeds is imperative, if you are going to spend a lot of time and energy growing plumeria seeds, you deserve to have the best chance of success possible. 

Whether you are growing for fun or pleasure, you should select quality seeds from a trusted grower who will guarantee the pod parent. I would suggest you purchase a complete seed pod when possible or at least all the seeds in a seed pod. Be cautious of any seller who claims to know the pod and pollen parents, unless they are a very respected grower. Even though a plumeria seed typically does not grow true to its parent(s) you can improve the chances of getting an outstanding plumeria by knowing as much about a seed’s heritage as possible. Selecting seeds from a cultivar know to produce good seedlings is a good way to improve your chances of getting better seedling.

Viability Testing

A dormant plumeria seed certainly looks dead. It does not seem to move, to grow, nor do anything. In fact, even with biochemical tests for the metabolic processes we associate with life (respiration, etc.) the rate of these processes is so slow that it would be difficult to determine whether there really was anything alive in a seed.

Testing the viability prior to planting can be a resource and time saver. The viability of plumeria seeds can be checked by using one of several methods. 

Quick check: By simple feeling the seed to see if it feels firm and thicker in the center of the seed, there is a good chance it is viable.

Drop the seed in a bowl of lukewarm water and allow to set for several hours, as the seed takes on water and removes air it will sink in the bowl. If a seed sinks, there is a good chance it is viable.


If a plumeria seed is not allowed to germinate (sprout) within some certain length of time, the embryo inside will die. Each species of seed has a certain length of viability. Some plumeria seeds have been known to germinate after 12 years. It is best to plant within a few months of being dispersed. It is believed a few cultivars, such as Dwarf Singapore Pink, will lose viability as it dries out and should be planted as soon as possible.

Assuming the seed is still viable, the embryo inside the seed coat needs something to get its metabolism activated to start the embryo growing. The process of getting a plumeria seed to germinate is simple.

Plumeria seeds lack true dormancy. The seeds are ready to sprout. All they need is some moisture to get their biochemistry activated, and temperature warm enough to allow the chemistry of life to proceed.

Place the seed in soil with the fan part of the seed sticking up out of the soil and water well, keep the soil moist. The seed will germinate in a few days and you will seed the seed emerge within 5-10 days, sometimes longer.

Spread the seeds out on soil laying flat in a try and cover with 1/4″ of soil. Water well and keep the soil moist. The seed will germinate in a few days and you will seed the seed emerge within 5-10 days, sometimes longer.

Place the seed between two paper towels, soak with water, place the towels in a warm area. Leave until you see roots developing. Do not allow the towels to dry out, if the seeds start to germinate and then dries, it could stop it from germinating. As soon as roots appear, it is time to plant. You should see roots within a few days.

The seed cotyledon, which forms in the embryo of seeds before germination, stores food for the embryo. Along with the endosperm, the cotyledon nourishes the new growth of the plant. It is the part of the seed that emerges from the testa, or hard covering, during germination. It grows upward, turning into a set of seed leaves as the seed germinates, using photosynthesis to nourish the newly forming plant further. The seed leaves will fall off after true leaves form.

Initial Transplanting to soil & the First 3-5 Months of Growth

After true leaves form the growing needs change. As the seedling grows it will need more sunlight, warmth, moisture and nutrients. I believe the first three months of a seedlings life is the most important.

In 2016, I performed an experiment where I applied Excalibur granular fertilizer to a two-month-old group (Group “B”) of seedlings, I keep another group for control (Group “A”) without additional fertilizer, after 5 weeks I compared the groups. Group “B” had grown approximately 25% more in height and has substantially more roots. After 2 months, I added the same granular fertilizer to Group “A” and started treating both the same after that. The interesting fact is, after 10 months there was still an approximately 25% difference between Group “A”  and Group “B”. I will continue to track the growth of these groups over the next few year.

Care after transplanting to 1 gal or larger, approximately 3-5 Months

After approximately 3 months, it is important to start treating seedlings as young adults. For me this means, water as soon as needed, fertilize with micronutrients, organic matter, bio-stimulates, etc. that enhance the roots system and overall maturity of the plant. At the same time, I provide additional nutrients to the leave and tips to keep the plant healthy and pest free. The goal is to allow the plumeria to mature as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. It is important to understand the concept of “allow the plumeria to mature”. It is important to provide a balanced diet of nutrients, organic matter, bio-stimulates, moisture and heat without overdoing or under doing any one factor.

Right now I would say 99% plus of all plumeria seeds produced are pollination by nature. My overall goal is to grow seedling to bloom and establish a reliable seedpod parents to use with cross-pollination projects. I’m fortunate to have a company like Florida Colors Nursery with a real need to grow seedling for root stock and new plumeria for future sales. This provides a need for the 99% of our seedling that will not be outstanding enough to grow to a marketable size.  

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