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How to Make Potting Soil for Plumeria Plants (Step-by-Step Guide)

Plumeria Plant

Plumeria is a deciduous flowering plant endemic to Mexico, Central America, and Florida. The short shrub is sometimes grown in cosmopolitan areas as part of the citywide beautification process in warm regions. Those who have grown Plumeria alias frangipani attest to its beautiful pink and white flowers. The five-petaled, medium-sized flowers may also be white and yellow.

At full maturity, plumeria flowers release a strong fragrance that intensifies at night to attract sphinx moths and humans for pollination. Before indulging in the nice scent, however, the tricky part is growing plumeria. You need the right soil to give the plant a good beginning and sustain its growth and development. Continue reading to find out how to make the potting soil for plumeria.

garden flower divider

What Are the Soil Requirements for a Plumeria Plant?

Though plumeria is hardy, like any other plant, it has specific soil requirements for healthy roots, dense foliage, and vibrant flowers.


Plumeria needs slightly acidic soil with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 6.9. This ensures nutrients are available in compounds that the plant can absorb and use.

While most garden soils are slightly acidic, it is important to determine the exact pH using a pH meter. Soil whose acidity is below 5.0 will burn fragile plumeria root hairs and stop the plant from taking up nutrients and water. Due to this, the pot will become waterlogged and initiate root rot.

Acidic soil also reduces the level of molybdenum, a photochemical responsible for photosynthesis. Though neutral soils are the most favorable to root health, the plumeria will take a lot of water and less useful nutrients. Alkaline soil, on the other hand, reduces the availability of micronutrients such as copper, magnesium, boron, and zinc.

gardener testing soil using a soil meter
Image By: kram-9, Shutterstock

Water Retention and Drainage

Unless you are planting a hydrophyte (an aquatic plant), most tropical plants, including plumeria, hate waterlogged conditions as already stressed. Other than causing root rot, waterlogging alters the soil-water chemical composition and lowers oxygen levels around the root zone.

For plumeria to grow well, the pot must have well-drained soil. If you are using compact soil like clay, add one or two handfuls of vermiculite or sand. Sand increases the space between soil particles which improves drainage.

While drainage is crucial, the soil should not let out all water at once. This not only washes away nutrients but is also time-consuming since you must water the plant frequently.

Well-rotted compost has good water retention capacity. Mix it with soil in a ratio of 1:1.

clay plant pots
Image By: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

How Do You Prepare the Potting Soil for Plumeria?

Now that you can clearly understand a few soil requirements for plumeria, how do you prepare a mixture that will ensure the plant grows well?

1. Choose the Right Container

Choosing the right container is one of the major factors that will influence how well plumerias will grow. Plumerias that are planted on the ground grow faster and yield better and more flowers than those that are confined in small containers. This experience has shown that plumeria needs ample root room to stop them from becoming root bound and starving to death.

When determining the right container, look at the following;

sifting soil through garden sieve
Image Credit: michael garner, Shutterstock

The number of drainage holes

If your pot doesn’t have holes, drill at least 20 quarter-inch holes per square foot. You may also fill the pot with an inch of gravel followed by soil to prevent the holes from being blocked.


Pro tip: use one gallon of container size per trunk foot. This means if the plumeria is 5 feet high, you should use a 5-gallon container.

When buying containers, start with a small container and transfer the plant to a bigger container with fresh soil after some time. You may do this seasonally or depending on how fast the plumeria is growing.

woman hands putting soil in the pot
Image Credit: rolkadd, Shutterstock

2. Dig Up Soil

If you prefer sourcing the potting soil from your garden, select a good area and dig up to remove stones, twigs, and weeds. Additionally, break large lumps into fine soil.

Though optional, you may solarize soil to kill weed seeds and pathogens. Solarization is a non-chemical process of controlling pathogens, weed seeds, and pests in moist soil by covering it with a clear airtight plastic sheet to trap the sun’s heat. Solarization lasts for 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the intensity of the sun.

To speed up things, pour the soil into a clear plastic bag, and place it under the sun for two weeks.

preparing the soil for transplanting
Image Credit: ABO PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

3. Test the Soil for Acidity Using a pH Meter

A pH meter is a device that determines the pH of the soil to a certain degree. It is not as accurate as lab tests, but its results are reliable.

Simply dip the pH meter in the soil and wait for the results. Modern pH meters have an LCD screen to show the results. But before using the meter, read through the manufacturer’s manual to understand how it is used.

If the pH is low, add small quantities of agricultural lime and mix well. Lime is made up of pulverized limestone, which contains calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate reacts with acid compounds in the soil, raising the pH.

Likewise, for soil with high pH (basic), add aluminum sulfate or elemental sulfur. Sulfate compounds turn acidic once they react with moisture in the soil, therefore lowering its pH.

Potting soil in large gray pots
Image Credit: TD Dolci, Shutterstock

4. Mix the Soil With Manure

Mix solarized soil with well-rotted manure in a ratio of 1:1. You may also want to add sand at this stage and do the mixing at once.

5. Pour the Soil Into the Growing Pot

When pouring the soil into a pot, compact it a little bit but not too much.

woman pouring store bought potting soil to a pot
Image Credit: progressman, Shutterstock

garden flower divider Conclusion

Plumeria loves enriched and well-drained soils which are slightly acidic. Avoid very acidic or basic soil since they will reduce the availability of essential minerals and microbial activities. Additionally, add manure for water retention and fertility and sand to improve drainage. Cover all of these bases and your Plumeria plants will grow successfully!

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