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How to Combat Plumeria Sunburn

The fragrant Plumeria is hard to beat for a taste of the tropics. They’re also known as frangipani, and they’re reminiscent of the Pacific Islands and a warm summer breeze.

However, these tropical fantasies can get sunburned just like any other sun-seeking surfer or beach bunny.

Plumeria requires time to adjust to changing environmental conditions. Even indoors, new cuttings and young trees are especially vulnerable. If you want to move your Plumeria outside, make sure to acclimate it first. Make sure your Plumeria has plenty of water to drink as well.

It can be difficult to grow these large tropical trees indoors. Though they can grow from even the roughest cutting, their light requirements of 4-6 hours of direct light per day can be difficult to meet.

The temptation for some growers to take their indoor Plumeria outside for some sun is strong. However, if you don’t take the proper precautions, it’s surprisingly easy to give your Plumeria a bad case of sunburn.

Why Do my Plumeria Leaves Look Burnt?

Signs of Plumeria Sunburn
Signs of Plumeria Sunburn

Plumeria grows into graceful trees up to 20 feet (6 meters) tall, with elegant canopies studded with clusters of strongly perfumed blossoms.

Your Plumeria, on the other hand, gets used to its surroundings. The sudden increase in light levels will burn the leaves if you move your indoor plant without preparation and care.

This is especially true for new cuttings and young plants. They have fewer resources to defend themselves against the sun’s rays, so they are more vulnerable to damage.

Signs for a Sunburned Plumeria

Burned Spots on the Leaves

Brown or yellow patches on your Plumeria are the first sign of trouble. This is sun damage, and it appears on the leaves that have been exposed to the most direct sunlight.

If your Plumeria starts to develop crisp brown spots, it’s time to move it into the shade. I go into more detail about this and other causes of brown spots here.

Discolored Trank at the Base

Plumeria trank can die if it gets too much sun at the base. The trunk of a sunburned plumeria will have a burned appearance from the base up. It occurs as a result of heat reflection from the soil and pot wall.

You just need to warp the base with aluminum foil or Cut a cardboard roll lengthwise, wrap it around the trunk, and tape closed so when you water, it won’t come off… it protects from sunburn. 

I’m trying with a strip of the old white cotton sheet! Hope it works well!

Brown Leaf Tips

Plants lose water when they are exposed to bright light. Browning or crispness on the edges and tips of your Plumeria leaves will be the most obvious sign.

The leaves are shriveling up. When the sun is shining directly on your Plumeria, the rate at which it loses water increases. Damage in the early stages of leaf development can be fatal.

Photosynthesis is also sped up in the presence of bright light. Your Plumeria quickly depletes its water supply as it takes advantage of the sun’s rays to produce sugars.

Brown or white foliage

If you leave your Plumeria in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, it will attempt to conserve its resources. To protect the leaves from UV rays, they will draw out their precious pigments.

When this happens, the leaves will turn brown or yellow, turning pale and dry.

Bleached leaves

Leaf bleaching is the most severe form of damage that can occur to an indoor Plumeria. Chlorophyll and other pigments are destroyed by sunlight’s ultraviolet radiation, and the leaf structure itself begins to decompose.

As they die, they turn white and brittle, and may even disintegrate.

Dry Loose Soil

The roots of your indoor Plumeria are compact and shallow. It relies on a small area for its water supply, which is quickly depleted by the sun’s rays. Evaporation is also caused by the heat of the sun, which causes water to evaporate.

It’s easy to tell if your medium is completely dried out when the soil in your pot becomes loose and crumbly and pulls away from the pot’s sides.

Wilting or Curled Leaves

Each Plumeria leaf contains a significant amount of water. Its woody cells are filled with water, despite their appearance.

This water is lost both to the plant’s biological processes and to evaporation as your Plumeria responds to the stresses of prolonged exposure to the sun. Your Plumeria’s leaves will curl or wilt if you don’t provide that water.

Plumeria Sunburn Treatment

To treat and prevent sunburn in your Plumeria, here are some simple tips and tricks that you can use at home.

Relocate  Your Plumeria

Put the Plumeria back in the house first! Your plant needs time to recuperate, even if it’s tempting to recreate the sun-drenched tropical vision of your dreams.

If you have an indoor growing environment, move the Plumeria to a bright location. If you’re looking for a good amount of light, you’ll want to look for windows that face south.

Consider a grow light if you can’t handle that level of brightness without taking a risky trip outside. This will ensure that your Plumeria gets the right amount of light without putting you at risk. Because of its size, it is ideal for specimens that are difficult to find. (Check out the prices on Amazon here)

Replenish your Plumeria’s Water Supply

Rehydrating your Plumeria is the next step. I recommend watering sunburned plants from the bottom up. You can do this by following these instructions:

  1. A large basin or tub at least half the height of your pot is needed.
  2. Remove any drip trays or saucers from which your Plumeria has been kept.
  3. Place the Plumeria in the basin. “‘
  4. After that, add clean water to the basin until the level of the pot is halfway up the side. Filtered or distilled water can be used, but rainwater is preferable.
  5. The pot’s drainage holes will allow water to seep in. As needed, add more water to keep the water level stable at the halfway point.
  6. Make sure your Plumeria gets a good half an hour to soak up all the water it can.
  7. Remove your Plumeria from the basin and allow it to drain for at least 15 minutes before placing it back on its saucer or tray.

Rehydrating a sun-damaged plant in this manner is the most efficient method of doing so. It’s the most efficient way to get moisture to the roots, which is where it’s most needed.

However, this method of watering may be impractical for larger, heavier trees. Instead, gently mist the area from a height.

Plumeria grows best in sand-based soil. Once the soil has completely dried out, it can be difficult to rehydrate it from the top.

Don’t rush things. Spread a quarter of a cup of water evenly across the top of the cake. As soon as you begin to notice small drips coming from the drainage holes, it’s time to add more.

Allow your Plumeria to drain completely before putting it back in its saucer or tray, as is standard procedure.

Their shallow, tight roots make them particularly susceptible to root rot, so they should never be left standing in water.

Can Plumerias get too much sun?

The beauty of an outdoor Plumeria suggests that there is no such thing as too much sun for these tropical charmers. They don’t have a problem enduring all day in the sun.

Aside from that, indoor plants are a whole other kettle of fish! If your indoor Plumeria hasn’t had a chance to adapt to changing conditions, it’s possible to overfeed it with sunlight.

Preventing Sunburn in Plumerias

Assuming your plumeria has had a chance to heal, let’s talk about how to avoid getting burned again in the future.

Acclimatize your Plumeria

A few hours a day of direct sunlight on a patio or porch won’t do any harm to your Plumeria. It’s not uncommon for people to leave them outside all summer long!

You must get used to it before you can do this successfully. Moving directly from the dingy confines of your home or office into the sweltering open-air is a recipe for disaster.

Take your time with your Plumeria. The first step is to put it in the shade for at least an hour or two before moving on. Every few days, increase this amount of time.

Once it’s had a few days to get used to the weather outside, you can move it into direct sunlight. Then take your time as well. Give it a few hours at first, then gradually increase it. Keep an eye on your moisture levels as you go.

For an indoor-grown Plumeria, a full season of sunlight can take some time to get accustomed to. To enjoy their fragrant flowers, you’ll need to give these plants plenty of direct sunlight, which they do best in.

To get what you put in, you have to put in some effort.

Monitor Light Levels Year Round

Your Plumeria has a keen sense of the changing of the seasons. In the winter, it may lose all of its leaves.

Take extra care when they regrow in the spring. Damage can occur to the new leaves as they emerge. As the sun’s position shifts, the light in your house or office can go from soft and pleasant to harsh and uncomfortable.

As the seasons change, remember to check the direction of your light. A gentle spring sunbeam can quickly turn into a terrifying burning ray.

Water with the seasons

Summer is the time of year when your Plumeria needs more water than it does in the winter.

Always avoid watering a Plumeria that has lost all of its leaves. You’ll notice a gradual increase in the amount of water your Plumeria needs as the leaves begin to re-grow.

Your potting soil should be completely dry between waterings in general. Plumeria does not like to have wet feet at all, and their thick branches store water for when they need it.

In the summer months, once a week should suffice, with the frequency gradually decreasing as the weather cools down.