Plumeria Seed Selection

Growing Plumeria from Seeds > Plumeria Seedlings > 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.