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Plumeria Princess

Yes, we have a Plumeria Princess in our club. I call her that because she specializes in Plumerias and at last count had more than 100 of them at her home. Think she’s obsessed? That’s a whole jungle and she grows them in more than a dozen colors. She’s been at it since 2006. She says she’s running out of  space….no kidding.  But hey…she’s working on a new rooting method that should be a space saver. If it works, she’ll probably grow a hundred more. If she’s not careful she’ll need a GPS to find her way to the kitchen.

Of course, I’m talking about our own Jenny Keeling. She’s our resident expert on the subject. If you missed her program awhile back on growing and caring for Plumerias, you did yourself a disservice.

Plumerias are the plants Hawaiian Leis are made of. They are tropicals and smell wonderful. Though they look to be high maintenance, they’re really not. To prove that point, the night Jenny gave her program on them, she brought a saw with her…that’s right a saw! Sally Jernigan had given her an overgrown specimen to use for demonstration. It was probably 10 foot tall. At the end of her program, Jenny and the saw went to work on the Plumeria. She sawed the branches of that sucker into more than 20 pieces of what looked to be leafless sticks.

Anyone was welcome to take a “stick” home and sink it in a pot of dirt. I took one. I stuck that leafless, dead looking stick in a pot of dirt in my greenhouse and ignored it. I didn’t baby it. I hardly watered it. I barely looked at it. It was as disinterested in me as I was in it. It just sat there and did nothing. We were at a standoff!

Tropicals are not my thing. I was sure it wouldn’t survive.  But hers are so gorgeous, what did I have to lose. The price was right. Did I mention it was free?

Then one spring day the stick blinked!!! Something green peeped out of the top of it. It started growing leaves! Imagine my surprise. I really thought it was dead. Later in the season it bloomed! Another surprise. I couldn’t believe it. Then the fragrance filled the greenhouse and smelled divine. OK…I was hooked!

So now I’m growing a few Plumerias. Seems they’re indestructible…you can’t kill them! Of course, none of mine look like the one pictured with Jenny….not yet anyway. But in a few years…who knows. As I said, the price was right.

As an interesting side note, the demonstration plant Sally donated was from a cutting she got from Donald Walker. For you old timers, that’s a flash from the past. Jenny kept one of the cuttings for herself. So, in essence, she has a pass a long from Donald. I have similar plants in my garden and I bet you do too.  It’s a garden tradition and our gardens are richer for it. Every time we look at those plants we think of the friends or family members they came from.

But back to Jenny and her jungle. Look for Jenny at the next sale. If you’d been at her class you could have gotten a freebie… you’ll have to pay. But hey…look at that picture again!!! Her plants are spectacular!

Anyone in the club can point you to her. Just ask for the Plumeria Princess!

Happy Gardening!

Linda Newber

This one and the seed pod came from the original plant that started her obsession