Plumeria are beautiful flowering plants that do well both indoors and outdoors when provided with the right care. Overwatering a plumeria is one of the most common mistakes people make, but thankfully in most instances, it is relatively easy to fix.
In this article, we will be taking a look at plumeria overwatering symptoms and how to remedy them.
Symptoms of Overwatering in Plumeria
1. Yellow Leaves – Too much/ Not enough water
If the leaves of your plumeria are turning yellow it could be a symptom of either overwatering or underwatering. Check your soil. If it is dry you are likely underwatering, if it is soggy and wet, you are overwatering.
Plumeria generally like to have time for their soil to mostly dry out between waterings, so if you are watering more than every other week or so you are likely overwatering. If you think your plumeria is ready to be watered, test the soil with your fingers, if it is dry about 1-2 inches down you can water your plant.
When watering plumeria, you will want to thoroughly soak the plant. This is relatively easy if your plant is planted in the ground, but if it is in a pot you will want to water until you see water coming out of the drainage hole.
You will need to water your plant more during the spring, summer, and fall months and little to none in the winter. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so be careful to avoid soggy soil.
2. Yellow Leaves – Not enough light
Another reason your plant has yellowing leaves could be that it’s not getting enough light. This is a common problem for plumeria that are kept indoors. Plants that aren’t getting enough lighting can have trouble absorbing water from the soil. This can lead you to overwater your plant without meaning to and can also lead to root rot.
If you are keeping your plant indoors, try moving it to a brighter location in your home. An east-facing window is ideal, but any window with lots of light can work. Avoid placing your plumeria in direct light as this can cause the plant’s leaves and trunk to burn.
3. Mushy Trunk
Too much water can cause your plumeria’s trunk to become soft or mushy. If this happens, it is likely too late to save your plant, but you can possibly still salvage some cuttings. Remove your plant from its pot and cut the firm portion of the trunk into foot-long pieces.
Give these cuttings time to scab over and then place them in the dirt. Most of them should root and give you new plumeria plants, but the rooting process can sometimes take a month or two. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see new growth right away, as plumeria tend to be slow growers.
4. Smelly Soil
If you notice a smell coming from your plumeria, it could be due to fungus or root rot. Overly wet soil can cause mold and fungus to flourish in your soil. This can lead to a decaying or mildew-like smell to appear. If you notice an unpleasant smell from your plumeria, it’s best that you check the soil for overwatering.
If the soil is overly damp, you will want to pull your plant from the pot and check for root rot or fungus. If you see either, you will want to wash the bottom of the plant in a solution of 1 part peroxide to 1 part water and then repot it in fresh well-draining soil.
5. Root Rot
One of the worst issues with overwatering is root rot. If your plant is experiencing root rot, it will likely have yellow or brown limp leaves. Plumeria like to have a good drink every few weeks, but also appreciate having time for their soil to dry out.
If you notice your plant has soggy soil and you think it may have root rot, it’s best to remove your plant from its pot or from the ground to give it a thorough once over. Healthy roots are firm and white, while rotting roots are usually dark brown or black and mushy.
Remove any rotten roots and give the healthy roots a good rinse before repotting them in fresh soil. If you caught it early and there are a good amount of healthy roots, your plant should bounce back in a few weeks.
Tips to Avoid Overwatering
The best way to treat overwatering is to prevent it. While many plant keepers want to water their plants frequently, it’s important to adjust your watering schedule based on the needs of your plants.
1. Always check your soil
It’s important to always check your soil before watering. If you think your plumeria is due to be watered, but the soil still seems wet, you may need to make sure your plant is getting enough light, is in the correct pot, and has the proper soil.
The ideal soil for plumeria is one that has good drainage but that is nutrient-rich. To achieve this balance, you will want to choose good potting soil and add in perlite in a 2:1 ratio. My favorite potting soil is Fox Farms Ocean Forest, but any potting soil should work fine.
2. Use the right pot
If you plan on keeping your plumeria in a pot, choosing the right one is very important to the health of your plant. You will want to use a pot that is only a few inches larger in diameter than your root ball. A good rule of thumb when selecting a pot is to use one that is only slightly larger than the nursery pot you buy it in.
A pot that is too big can easily lead to overwatering as the plant’s roots won’t be able to reach all the soil, which will cause water and even mold and fungus to build up.
You also want to make sure you choose a pot with a drainage hole. Many decorative pots you find won’t have drainage holes. While this can work for some cacti and succulents, it is not a good choice for plumeria.
Either use a drill to make your own drainage holes in the pot or choose another pot that already has a drainage hole. This will allow any excess water to drain out of the pot rather than pool at the bottom and stagnate.
A good pot is really the first defense against overwatering, so choose wisely.
3. Place your plant in an ideal setting
Good lighting or lack of lighting can be a make or break part of your plumeria’s success. Plants get their energy from a process called photosynthesis. This process takes light and water and creates energy. If your plant isn’t getting enough light it will have a hard time photosynthesizing and won’t absorb the correct amount of water. This can cause your soil to stay wet for too long and can lead to root rot.
If you are only watering your soil every few weeks and it is staying wet, your plant likely isn’t getting enough sun. Try moving it to a brighter location in your home, or add a plant light above it.
Plant-specific lights can be found in most hardware stores and plant specialty stores and can be as simple or as decorative as you like.
4. Create and implement a watering schedule
Plants thrive when they are watered on a schedule. While we may not think of plants as sentient, they are able to adjust growth patterns based on water and light availability. If your plant’s soil is always wet, your plant will focus heavily on growing so that it can absorb enough light and water to thrive, but this can cause stunted root growth.
Similarly, if your plant is always dry, it will likely use a lot of energy forming roots to seek out water and little energy for growing. A good balance of regular watering should even things out, so get to know your plant and when its natural watering schedule should be. For most plumeria, this is every other week during the growing season, but every plant is different, so keep an eye on your plant and the soil and adjust as needed.