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Early-Season Feeding Regimen

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I’m a big believer in starting to feed my plumerias toward late winter. Even if the plants aren’t awake yet, I want to feed the soil with some yummy organics, so when the plants wake up and the roots start to absorb again, they’ll be in a nutrient-rich environment.

I try to get this done mid-late February before we get our last rains in southern California so it soaks it all in really well.

Here is what I do:


I use these products as a top dressing at the base of the plants in the ground or in pots. You do not have to worry about over-fertilizing, as you cannot with organics. The links below will take you to articles with more info, if desired.

Note: I am not affiliated with any of these companies and don’t get any money for recommending it. Just want that out there.

Used coffee grounds: Use your own or get it from a local coffee shop. The best thing is that it’s all free! I put a handful in my pots and two handfuls on my plants in the ground.Coffee grounds

Starbucks tip…You can drop by your local stores and ask for used grounds. Some keep them for gardeners and some don’t. This morning I called 5 local stores and 3 kept the morning grounds for me to pick up. I got these 3 big bags. My experience is that the best time to go is around 9 am or 4 pm, after their rush hours.

You can spread the grounds with the coffee filters in it, which are biodegradable. But after a while they get sun-bleached and don’t look good, in my opinion. So I just put the bag of grounds in a wagon and put the filters in the wagon as I go around the yard.

Sul-Po-Mag: Usually a pellet, time-released product. It provides magnesium, which is so good for our plant’s leaves and infrastructure.

Worm castings: Worm poop is really good for our plumies. I get large bags of it at our local hydroponics store.

Manure: Either steer manure (a little over a buck at Home Depot) or composted horse manure (get this at local horse stables).

Compost/mulch: I know our dump in San Diego will give you these free if you load them yourself or they sell it cheap if they load it for you. There are also many companies that sell these products. I prefer to mulch with Kellogg Patio Plus, which contains bat guano, chicken manure, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal. It’s marked as a potting soil, which you could use for plumerias as long as you mix it with a lighter soil, but I prefer it as a top dSolid Greenressing mulch.

Solid Green: This year I’m trying out a new product that I’ve heard a lot of good things about. It’s a time-released organic nitrogen fertilizer. I like to give my plants a nitrogen kick at the first of the new season. I think this product will do that well. I got it at Home Depot.


I mix all these in a 5-gallon bucket and pour at the base of the plant. Just follow label directions regarding amount. Again, no worries about overfertilizing, since they are organics.


I don’t start using chemical fertilizer until the plants have awakened. For us in southern California, that has happened very early this year because of our warm winter (sorry, east coasters). So I just spread this on the plants with the organics.

FertilizerI am not a believer in bloom-buster fertilizers, but that’s a subject for another post. I prefer fertilizers formulated for plumerias. Most long-time, experienced plumerians used balanced fertilizers, and I agree.

I also like time-released products so I don’t have to do it constantly through the season. Here are my suggestions:

Plumeria Crack (10-30-4): I’ve used this and it’s good. It lasts 3-4 months, so you’ll do two applications each season.

Excalibur IX (11-11-13): I am using this new fertilizer this year. It last 9-12 months, so you only need one application per season. It also has a ton of great micronutrients in it as well.

If you want, you can throw everything above all together at one time to feed your plants. Hope all this helps make your plants happy!

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About the Author

Mike Atkinson

Mike AtkinsonMike and his wife Stacy have been growing plumerias in San Diego's east county for almost 20 years. Mike coordinates public relations for the Southern California Plumeria Society. He has addressed groups all over southern California about growing plumerias. He is also an admin for the Plumeria Addicts Facebook group: all posts by Mike Atkinson →