Plumeria leaves turning brown

The fungus known as black tip occurs after the plumeria crowns have been exposed to frost or sometimes just cold winter morning dew. The healthier and larger the frangipani, the more resistant it will be to black tip damage. Some fungicides treat it better than others but it can be treated. If the black tip is severe, the tip will die and new shoots will grow from the sides of the branch, creating branches. When you see new shoots growing from the side of the plant, you should cut off the dead tip with a clean cut. Sometimes, rot can start in a damaged tip.

  • In early spring,at the first signs of new growth, a bacterial problem commonly known as “black tip” can appear. This causes die back of the new growth but creates more branches.
  • “Black tip” rarely kills the tree.
  • The cause of the “black tip” fungus is low spring temperatures combined with high humidity. By late spring when temperatures increase the “black tip” disappears.
  • To try and reduce its unsightly appearance seaweed extract liquid fertilizers can help. Begin foliar spraying at the first signs of new growth prior to the first signs of the “black tip” fungus and then spray once a week until early summer.
  • Using hydrogen peroxide has been know to minimize the damage.

Black Tip Fungus is very hard to control once it gets a big head start. Black Tip can pop up at any time of the year. Black Tip Fungus loves cool, wet, and shady areas. When the conditions are right is can pop up virtually overnight, and spread like wildfire.

Black sooty mold forms a black mold on plumeria leaves. You’ll know if the black tip fungus has attacked your plumeria tree if you see black tips on the branches’ growing tips in spring. Affected branches will stop growing. If you catch this fungal disease soon after it first appears, you’ll have success in halting its spread. Spray the tree with an approved fungicide as soon as possible, and also cut affected branches back to disease-free wood.

If left uncontrolled it will kill the growth tips of mature trees, and kill entirely a small plumeria. If Black Tip has killed the growth tips on a mature plumeria and temperatures warm up, the black tip will die off. Then the blacked tips will callus and break off. Next, the plumeria will branch back out as if it was pruned. Sometime on a tree it’s not all bad, because it gets a ton of new branches, but if it happens every year, or disgustingly, twice a year you will have hell getting you plumerias to bloom.

You can help control it by controlling ants, which bring aphids and scale to your tree and feed on their sticky excretion. If you smear a think (1/2 inch) layer of a product called Tree Tanglefoot around the base of your plumeria tree, ants will be unable to pass over it. Black sooty mold can also result from exposure to whiteflies and thrips: control these pests with yellow sticky traps and insecticidal soap spray. If necessary, spray your tree with a broad spectrum fungicide.


How to Spot Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms

Plumeria Nutrient Deficiencies

Not all plumeria problems are caused by insects or diseases. Sometimes an unhealthy plumeria is suffering from a nutrient deficiency or even too much of any one nutrient. Plumeria nutrient deficiencies often manifest as foliage discoloration or distortion. The following chart outlines some possible problems. Unfortunately many problems have similar symptoms and sometimes it is a combination of problems.

Be sure you eliminate the obvious before you kill your plumeria with kindness.

  • Check first for signs of insects or disease.
  • Foliage discoloration and stunted plants can easily be caused by soil that is too wet and drains poorly or soil that is too compacted for good root growth.
  • Exposure to cold or heat will slow plant growth and effect flowering.
  • Too much fertilizer can result in salt injury. Your plants may look scorched or they may wilt, even when the soil is wet.

Plumeria require a mix of nutrients to remain healthy. Nutrients that are needed in relatively large amounts are called the macronutrients. Plant macronutrients include: (N) nitrogen, (P) potassium, (K) phosphorus, calcium, sulfur and magnesium.

There are a handful of additional nutrients that are required for plant growth, but in much smaller quantities. These micronutrients include: boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.

All of these nutrients are taken in through the roots. Water transfers the nutrients from the soil to the Plumeria roots. So one requirement of sufficient Plumeria nutrition is water. A second requirement is the appropriate soil pH for the Plumeria being grown. Each Plumeria prefers a specific pH range to be able to access the nutrients in the soil. Some Plumeria are fussier than others, but if the soil pH is too acidic or alkaline, the Plumeria will not be able to take in nutrients no matter how rich your soil may be.

Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms


Calcium (Ca)

  • Symptoms: New leaves are distorted or hook shaped. The growing tip may die. Contributes to blossom end rot in tomatoes, tip burn of cabbage and brown/black heart of escarole & celery.
  • Sources: Any compound containing the word ‘calcium’. Also gypsum.
    Notes: Not often a deficiency problem and too much will inhibit other nutrients.

Nitrogen (N)

  • Symptoms: Older leaves, generally at the bottom of the plant, will yellow. Remaining foliage is often light green. Stems may also yellow and may become spindly. Growth slows.
  • Sources: Any compound containing the words: ‘nitrate’, ‘ammonium’ or ‘urea’. Also manure.
    Notes: Many forms of nitrogen are water soluble and wash away.

Magnesium (Mg)

  • Symptoms: Slow growth and leaves turn pale yellow, sometimes just on the outer edges. New growth may be yellow with dark spots.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘magnesium’, such as Epson Salts.

Phosphorus (P)

  • Symptoms: Small leaves that may take on a reddish-purple tint. Leaf tips can look burnt and older leaves become almost black. Reduced fruit or seed production.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘phosphate’ or ‘bone’. Also greensand.
    Notes: Very dependent on pH range.

Potassium (K)

  • Symptoms: Older leaves may look scorched around the edges and/or wilted. Interveinal chlorosis (yellowing between the leaf veins) develops.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘potassium’ or ‘potash’.

Sulfur (S)

  • Symptoms: New growth turns pale yellow, older growth stays green. Stunts growth.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘sulfate’.
    Notes: More prevalent in dry weather.


Boron (B)

  • Symptoms: Poor stem and root growth. Terminal (end) buds may die. Witches brooms sometimes form.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘borax’ or ‘borate’.

Copper (Cu)

  • Symptoms: Stunted growth. Leaves can become limp, curl, or drop. Seed stalks also become limp and bend over.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘copper’, ‘cupric’ or ‘cuprous’.

Manganese (Mn)

  • Symptoms: Growth slows. Younger leaves turn pale yellow, often starting between veins. May develop dark or dead spots. Leaves, shoots and fruit diminished in size. Failure to bloom.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘manganese’ or ‘manganous’

Molybdenum (Mo)

  • Symptoms: Older leaves yellow, remaining foliage turns light green. Leaves can become narrow and distorted.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘molybdate’ or ‘molybdic’.
    Notes: Sometimes confused with nitrogen deficiency.

Zinc (Zn)

  • Symptoms: Yellowing between veins of new growth. Terminal (end) leaves may form a rosette.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘zinc’.
    Notes: Can become limited in higher pH.


My frangipani has flowers but they are not opening

Generally, when a plant flowers, but then the flowers do not open, it is due to prevailing temperatures. This happens most often at the tail end of the flowering season in autumn. Although it may still seem quite warm during the day, if overnight temperatures are too low, the frangipani starts to prepare itself for the winter dormancy period. Those unopened flower buds will eventually drop off.

My Frangipani is really healthy but it’s not flowering

If your frangipani is otherwise healthy, but not producing flowers, there are 3 most likely causes. The first is that thebranch or shoot is too young. When a frangipani is pruned, new branches generally take 2 years to flower. The same goes for a frangipani branch that is propagated after being cut away from the parent tree.

The next cause could be insufficient sunlight. At least 6 hours a day is best. A warm sunny position against a north (in the southern hemisphere or the opposite in the northern hemisphere) or west facing wall is best. Frangipanis in other positions will grow and produce leaves, but not necessarily flowers.

The third possible cause is likely to be insufficient fertiliser, or the wrong type of fertiliser. Most fertilisers contain nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. It’s the phosphorous component that promotes flower growth, so look for a fertiliser with high levels of phosphorous.


My leaves are turning black & withering (or leaves droop and/or drop off)

Drooping leaves usually mean too much or too little water. Have you had a lot of rain lately, or does the pot sit in a saucer that holds water? If so, then it may be too wet (and yes – frangipanis can be quite dramatic when complaining about too much water!). Alternately, has it been hot, humid and / or windy where you are? Terracotta pots in particular are very free draining, so your plant may just need some water.

Just to be on the safe side though – have a quick check at the underside of the leaves for pests & diseases. Check for orange spots (rust), black spots (mould or scale) or white spots (powdery mildew).

For mould – spray with white oil, and feed the plant with a fertiliser high in potassium or potash which will boost the plant’s natural resistance to diseases.

For rust, remove the affected leaves and place these in a bag and put them in the bin. Don’t compost them, and don’t let the leaves fall onto the soil as this will just spread the fungus spores which cause the rust.

For scale, if there aren’t too many, scrape them off with your fingernail and dab the spot with a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ear-bud; if there are a lot, you can use white oil spray or an insecticide designed for scale, or, for a long term organic solution, try encouraging ladybugs to your garden by planting some daisies, zinnias or zucchini nearby.
Powdery mildew is generally caused by poor air circulation (or high humidity), and can be treated with white oil or a fungicide. If you prefer an organic solution, try mixing a little powdered milk with some detergent and a little water and spray that on the leaves.

Make sure whatever you use you spray late afternoon after the sun has gone off the leaves (to prevent scorching from the sun).

My Frangipani has lots of new leaves but they are not opening

This can quite often happen with a new cutting which has not had sufficient time to dry out before planting. If this is a new cutting, remove from the soil, and feel along the length of the cutting checking for soft spots (from the base of the cutting up). If the base of the cutting has started to rot, cut back to the first solid part of cutting, and then leave to dry out for 2 to 3 weeks before repotting.

If this is an established plant, see tips above for leaves dropping off.

I have black/brown bumps on my leaves (top or underside)

This is scale. If there aren’t too many, scrape them off with your fingernail and dab the spot with a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ear-bud; if there are a lot, you can use white oil spray or an insecticide designed for scale or for a long term organic solution, try encouraging ladybugs to your garden by planting some daisies, zinnias or zucchini nearby.

The tops of my Frangipani leaves look white

This is powdery mildew which is generally caused by poor air circulation (or high humidity), and can be treated with white oil or a fungicide. If you prefer an organic solution, try mixing a little powdered milk with some detergent and a little water and spray that on the leaves. Make sure whatever you use you spray late afternoon after the sun has gone off the leaves (to prevent scorching from the sun).

There are dry, crinkly, scorched areas on my leaves

This is caused by watering (or rain) in the middle of the day followed by strong sunlight, which scorches the leaves. Although unsightly, this will not harm your frangipani.

There are orange / yellow / brown spots on the underside or tops of leaves

This is frangipani rust which is becoming more and more common. For rust, remove the affected leaves and place these in a bag and put them in the bin. Don’t compost them, and don’t let the leaves fall onto the soil as this will just spread the fungus spores which cause the rust.

There’s an orange caterpillar eating my frangipani leaves – should we spray them?

It can be tricky to tell what type of caterpillar is attacking your tree, as many caterpillars turn orange just before they go into the pupa stage to transform into a moth. Unless you get an infestation, I would just pull them off.

We have a black mass on our frangipani leaves – what is this?

The black mass sounds like it is mold – you can spray the plants with white oil to control. Give them a good feed of a fertiliser with plenty of potash – that should boost the plant’s natural resistance to molds.

Should I cut my tree back because of RUST – it doesn’t flower well?

Don’t cut back you frangipani tree – it will recover! What you can do though is to remove the affected leaves and place these in a bag and put them in the bin. Don’t compost them, and don’t let the leaves fall onto the soil as this will just spread the fungus spores which cause the rust. For more flowering, try feeding your frangipani with special frangipani food, or any fertiliser high in phosphorous.

My frangipani has white spots on the trunk – is this harmful?

This sounds like a fungus. This can often occur when the plant is under stress, or when it is very cold or wet. You can treat this with a fungicide, or white oil and detergent.

All the new shoots on my frangipani dry and drop off and there is discolouration of the bark

Check for mould – this will show as white or black discolouration on the branches and/or leaves. You should treat the mould with a copper based fungicide and white oil. Always spray late in the afternoon after the sun has gone off the plant (so you don’t scald it). The mould itself will not harm your frangipani, but is very unsightly and can spread to other plants, so it is best to get rid of it ASAP.

If your branches are discoloured with orange, red (or any other colour), then check your soil and/or pot. Some old wine barrels, if not cleaned sufficiently, can leach chemicals into the soil (and therefore your plant). In this situation it is best to discard the soil and repot with new soil into a new container. If it is not too far gone the plant should recover.

My branches are breaking or splitting

Frangipani branches rarely split of their own accord. However, if you have a lot of rain at the same time you have a lot of new leaf growth, the weight of the branches could cause them to split. If possible, try to stake up some of the heavier branches (support them from underneath). Once the weather has cooled, you may want to look at some judicious pruning if some branches seem to be too heavily laden.

If the branch has split or broken but it is still quite attached, it depends how deep the break goes. If there is a chance moisture could enter, you’d be better off to cut off the branch completely, leave it to dry for two weeks, then plant it to make a new frangipani. If the break is minor and on the side or underside, you may be able to save it by wrapping an old stocking around it and giving the branch some extra support until it heals over. Just keep an eye on the bark just above the break for any sign of withering – this is a sign that moisture is getting in. You may even be able to use the same method (a ladies’ stocking) to support the branch from above if there is another suitable branch or some way you can stake this to the main trunk (say higher up).

We’ve had a cold winter and the branch tips have turned black

Plumeria Obtusa suffer from a disease called Black Tip Fungus which causes the new leaves to wither and drop off. It will eventually turn the tip of the branch black too. The best way to treat this is with lemon juice – just squeeze a lemon over the tip and give it a bit of a dab in. Black tip is usually caused by high humidity after a cold spell, and is rare in subtropical and tropical climates.

My frangipani plant is very loose in the ground and unstable

Frangipanis have fairly small root balls (for their size) and are not very deep feeders. Therefore planting a large cutting will require some staking until the roots take hold in the soil. The best way to stake a large frangipani cutting is with 2 to 3 stakes placed around the frangipani, and tied to the frangipani with old stockings (these won’t harm the bark).


I think my frangipani has seed pods – can I grow new frangipanis from these?

Growing from seed is actually very interesting. Unlike cuttings, seedlings are NOT an exact duplicate of the parent plant, so it should be interesting to see what colours you get!

When the seed pods split open, you can harvest the seed and place in a little potting mix somewhere warm (minimum 18 degrees Celsius). Keep the soil moist and your seedling should appear within 2 weeks.

Can I replant broken branches?

If a branch breaks off or splits away don’t despair – just think of it as a new frangipani! Just clean up the break with secateurs or loppers. On the main trunk, make the cut to minimise any water being able to get into the wound. For the broken off piece, remove all leaves and flower spikes and leave it in a cool dry place for 2 – 3 weeks for the end to dry off, then you can place in a pot with some free draining potting mix.

Can I propagate a frangipani from cuttings

Frangipanis grow very well from cuttings. Here’s what you need to do: Make sure the edge where the cutting has been taken is a clean cut (if not, cut it again with some sharp secateurs). You need to leave the cutting to dry for a period of time. If it is summer / autumn where you are, remove any flower spikes and leave to dry in a cool dry spot for 2 – 3 weeks. If you are in winter / spring, chances are the branch is already bare, so just leave it for 3 to 4 days to heal over the wound in a cool dry spot. When the wound has healed, place it in a pot with free draining potting mix. Terracotta pots are great because they breathe. Make sure the pot is solid enough to support the weight of the frangipani. Also, frangipani are fairly shallow rooted, so don’t place in a tall thin pot. You may need to stake up at first depending on the size of your cutting. Water it in once, then leave for 2 weeks (unless it is really hot where you are).

How can I get my frangipani to seed?

I am often asked whether there are male and female frangipani plants and do you need one of each to get seed pods. The answer is no – each frangipani flower contains both male and female parts within it. Frangipanis need a pollinator to produce seed. Their most common pollinator is the sphinx moth, which is fairly hard to come by. It is possible to self pollinate frangipani by hand using some fishing line (enter it into the throat of the flower and try some get some of the pollen onto the female parts). I suspect it’s a bit hit and miss, although I have given it a try myself this summer – I guess I’ll know next year how successful it is!

Overall Health & Wellbeing

Do Frangipanis have invasive root systems?

You should have no problems with frangipanis. Frangipanis have a small root ball, which makes them ideal for planting around pools, in planter beds, containers and beside walls, as there is no fear the roots will harm any structures. They are generally non invasive (and some frangipanis have such shallow roots they have been known to blow over in high winds).

My frangipani is loose in the ground – how can I get it’s root system to grow?

Frangipanis normally root very well. If the frangipani is recently purchased (you bought it that size and it didn’t have a good root system when taken out of its pot), it could be that someone has just taken too big a cutting (the best size is around a metre) and it’s taking a while to root. I did that once when I was first starting out – I had a piece about a metre and a half tall and a metre wide! I had to prop it up against a wall and prop the sides for about 2 years until it had rooted properly.

If your plant has been in the ground for a while, then we need to look at the conditions it is in rather than the plant itself. Is it planted at the right level, is it in free draining soil, is it planted in a sunny sheltered position (against a wall is ideal), is it badly positioned at the bottom of a hill getting alll the rain run off?

Frangipanis love sun and hate wet roots, so take care of these two items first. If you don’t have a suitable spot in the garden, put your frangipani in a pot against a sunny wall.

Can I move a frangipani and how do I go about it?

Frangipanis don’t mind being moved, so long as you do it at the right time!Depending on the size, if it’s really really huge, you might need to hire a crane to lift it.

The best time to move and replant a frangipani is in late winter when the plant is dormant. Take as much of the root ball as you can, and replant into the new area. Do NOT water it in. Make sure the new hole is deep enough so that the plant sits at the same ground level as before.

You should choose a position that has good drainage, lots of sun, and protection from cold winds and frosts. Do not replant if you have just had a few weeks of rain and your soil is waterlogged – wait a few days until the soil dries out.

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There are more than 5,000 known species of rust on plants. Common rust (Phragmidium spp.) is a fungal disease that attacks roses, hollyhocks, snapdragons, daylilies, beans, tomatoes and lawns. It is most often found on mature plants where symptoms appear primarily on the surfaces of lower leaves.

Early on, look for white, slightly raised spots on the undersides of leaves and on the stems. After a short period of time, these spots become covered with reddish-orange spore masses. Later, leaf postules may turn yellow-green and eventually black. Severe infestations will deform and yellow leaves and cause leaf drop.

Rust diseases are favored by 4 to 8 hours of low light intensity, warm temperatures and moisture — humidity, dew or rain — followed by 8 to 16 hours of high light intensity, high temperatures and slow drying of leaf surfaces.

Black spores are visible on leaves and stems in fall and overwinter inside infected stems which are distinguished by dark, corky blotches at points of infection. The spores are spread by wind or by water splashing back up onto the foliage.


  1. Select rust-resistant plant varieties when available.
  2. Pick off and destroy infected leaves and frequently rake under plants to remove all fallen debris.
  3. Water in the early morning hours — avoiding overhead sprinklers — to give plants time to dry out during the day. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses can be used to help keep leaves dry.
  4. Use a slow-release, organic fertilizer on crops and avoid excess nitrogen. Soft, leafy, new growth is most susceptible.
  5. Apply copper sprays or sulfur powders to prevent infection of susceptible plants. For best results, apply early or at first sign of disease. Spray all plant parts thoroughly and repeat every 7-10 days up to the day of harvest.
  6. Effectively treat fungal diseases with SERENADE Garden. This broad spectrum bio-fungicide uses a patented strain of Bacillus subtilis and is approved for organic gardening. Best of all, it’s safe to use — you can treat and pick crops the same day!
  7. Containing sulfur and pyrethrins, Bonide® Orchard Spray is a safe, one-hit concentrate for insect attacks and fungal problems. For best results, apply as a protective spray (2.5 oz/ gallon) early in the season. If disease, insects or wet weather are present, mix 5 oz in one gallon of water. Thoroughly spray all parts of the plant, especially new shoots.
  8. Prune or stake plants and remove weeds to improve air circulation. Make sure to disinfect your pruning tools (one part bleach to 4 parts water) after each cut.
  9. Use a thick layer of mulch or organic compost to cover the soil after you have raked and cleaned it well. Mulch will prevent the disease spores from splashing back up onto the leaves.
  10. Burn or bag infected plants after the growing season (see Fall Garden Cleanup). Do NOT compost.

Orange spots on raspberry leaves

Thanks for your raspberry leaf spot question. Your photos are greatly appreciated. It has been a particularly wet winter and continual spring rains in our region, making ideal conditions for fungus growth in red raspberries. Raspberry-yellow rust is a fungus, phragmidium rubi-idaei. Cultivars such as Canby, Chilcotin, Newburgh, Puyallup or Sumner have been resistant, although new fungus strains will infect previously resistant cultivars such as Meeker and Williamette. The fungus overwinters as teliospores on leaves and in spring create a yellowish spotting on the upper leaf surface. Initially they are small, then yellow to orange and raised. The fungus progresses and fruit often dies on the canes before maturing and by harvest the black overwintering spores appear for another year. All parts of the plant are subject to infection.

Our OSU Pacific NW Plant Disease Management Handbook makes the following Cultural Control recommendations:

  • Burying fallen leaves, old cane stubs, and refuse before new leaves appear will help eliminate inoculum sources.
  • In home gardens, destroy fallen leaves and other refuse.
  • Remove and burn old fruiting canes as soon after harvest as possible, cutting flush with the ground. Cultivate as soon as weather permits.
  • Strip leaves from primocanes before tying.
  • Postpone trellising primocanes until leaves drop off.
  • Primocane suppression eliminates susceptible tissues when rust spores are present on fruiting cane leaves.
  • Control cane vigor to improve air circulation in the plant canopy, which hastens drying of leaves and canes.

The recommended Chemical control is: A delayed dormant application, using Bordeaux 8-8-100 or Rex lime sulfur (28%) at 8 to 10/gal/100 gal water with 48 hr. reentry (organic). Wait until the first buds produce about 0.75 inch of new growth.

Eating raspberries from your own home garden is worthwhile and it’s tough when a never-ending rain season endangers a successful harvest.

You might also find useful, the Oregon State University Extension guide “Growing Raspberries in Your Home Garden” catalog number EC 1307 at

About powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is also known as Oidium. Before any symptoms become visible the leaf starts to develop blister-like patches, which is followed by the characteristic white powder where the blister was. The leaf looks as if it has been dusted with powder. In general, mildew is found on the upper side of the leaf, but there are exceptions. One type of mildew only grows on the underside of the leaf, so it’s no surprise that this often gets overlooked. However, as the disease advances, the leaves can end up being completely covered in this white layer and it can even colonize the fruits, with subsequent losses in crop size and quality.

How to prevent the disease?

The best treatment against these types of fungi is prevention; once they have set in and developed, they are very difficult to eradicate, sometimes even with chemical fungicides. Try to prevent spores coming in from elsewhere and contaminating your plants by keeping your growing area clean. You can do this by using only clean equipment and washing your hands thoroughly before entering.

Plumeria forum: Plumeria Frangipani Leaf Problems

I have a plumeria frangipani that is showing spots on the leaves and some curling of leaves. I’m a beginner at this, but I’m worried about the plant and writing to get any advice or words of wisdom that anyone may have. I’m including some photos.
My daughter inherited a plant that she tells me is a plumeria frangipani, from a church group that needed a volunteer to care for it during the holidays. This was almost two years ago. She has been in charge of it until this fall when she went off to college and asked me to continue watering it. I’ve given the plant a cup of water per week, and kept it by the same window in her bedroom where it gets a lot of diffuse light through sheer curtains, but not a lot of direct sun. We are in Massachusetts, and the plant has been kept indoors the whole time we’ve had it. I remember it losing all its leaves in the winter and having them grow back in the spring and summer. It hasn’t flowered at all, probably not enough sunlight next to the window here. But the leaves have been growing and healthy-looking until just now.
My primary ambition is to keep the plant alive and healthy until my daughter gets back for the winter break, and then again until summer. It went well for two months but now we have this leaf issue.
The first photo shows the plant itself. I moved it away from the window to take this photo.

The second photo shows a close up of the white spots on one of the leaves. All the leaves have this issue.

The third photo shows how some of the lower leaves are curling outward on one side.

I’d be grateful for any help or advice!

| Quote | Post #1862517 (1)

Plumeria Rust Fungus: How To Treat Plumeria Plants With Rust Fungus

Plumeria, also known as frangipani or Hawaiian lei flowers, are a genus of flowering tropical trees, hardy in zones 8-11. While they are attractive trees in the landscape, they are mostly grown and cultivated for their highly fragrant blooms. Although fungal diseases can happen anywhere, warm, humid tropical regions are especially favorable for fungal growth. Plumeria rust fungus is a disease that is specific to plumeria.

About Plumeria Rust Fungus

Plumeria rust fungus is specific to plumeria plants. It is caused by the fungus Coleosporium plumeriae. Plumeria rust affects the foliage of the plant but not the stems or flowers. Its spores are airborne or spread from plant to plant from backsplash of rain or watering. When the spores make contact with moist leaves, they stick to them, then begin to grow and produce more spores. This fungus is most prevalent in warm, humid seasons or locations.

Usually, the first noticed symptom of rust of plumeria is yellow specks or spots on the upper sides of the leaves. When flipped over, the underside of the leaves will have correlating powdery orange lesions. These lesions are actually spore producing pustules. These leaves may curl, become distorted, turn brown-gray and drop off the plant. If left unchecked, rust on plumeria leaves can defoliate the whole tree in under two months. It will also spread to other nearby plumeria.

How to Treat Plumeria Plants With Rust Fungus

Plumeria rust was first discovered by botanists in 1902 on islands of the West Indies. It quickly spread across all tropical regions where plumeria grows. Later, the fungus was discovered on commercial plumeria plants on Oahu, quickly spreading throughout all the Hawaiian Islands.

Rust on plumeria leaves is usually controlled by proper sanitation, fungicides and selecting disease resistant varieties. When plumeria rust is discovered, all fallen leaves should be cleaned up and disposed of immediately. Affected leaves can be removed, but be sure to properly sanitize tools between plants.

To improve air flow around plumeria, keep the area around them weed free and not overcrowded. You can also prune plumeria trees to open them up to good air circulation. Fungicides can then be used to spray the plumeria plants and the soil around them. Some studies have shown success in biologically controlling plumeria fungus with midges. However, use of chemical fungicides kills midges.

While plant scientists are still studying resistant varieties of plumeria, the two species Plumeria stenopetala and Plumeria caracasana have shown the most resistance to rust fungus so far. When planting in the landscape, using a diversity of several plants can keep the entire garden from falling victim to host specific diseases.

Plumeria forum: Brown spots on my plumeria –HELP!

I have three plumeria cuttings that I planted last spring and one that I planted the previous year. They get full sun. I use Hawaiian Bud and Bloom 5-50-17 every two weeks in a soil drench. I use a moisture meter and water when it drops to 7-8 (roughly once a week). They had a bit of webbing near the trunk and I think I spotted a spider mite on one of them. I applied an organic insecticide soap. They keep getting small dead spots on the leaves (before and after the insecticide was applied). It’s not rust, there is nothing on the underside. Some leaves are slightly mottled. They eventually turn yellow and fall off. Also, it doesn’t appear to be sunburn, but more like chlorosis. I don’t know what to do… Normally, I put them on the covered porch during rain. That last couple days we had a little rain and I left them out hoping it would help. It didn’t. I live in coastal South Carolina Zone 8B. The climate has been very hot and humid lately and our rain is saltier than other areas. How do I help my plumeria? And how can I get the older one to bloom?

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Rust Diseases or Rust Fungus occurs on a wide variety of plants, including Plumeria. In general, however and given rust is rather specific in its host range. Many rust have several kinds of microscopic spores. With such forms, the fungus may infect two entirely different plants living part of the year on one host and the remainder of the year on the other. (which in the case with plumerias) The presence of a rust disease can always be determined be the appearance of yellow, orange or reddish-brown powdery pustules on the leaves, stems, or buds of the infected plant. The spores produced in these pustules are carried by splashing rain or air currents to near-by healthy plants where new infections will occur.

Rust Fungus does not kill Plumerias, but can rapidly de-foliate an entire tree.

How to Control Plumeria / Frangipani Rust Fungus
Rust fungus will over-winter on infected plants.

1. Keep the growing area clean and free of fallen leaves.

2. Carefully remove and place infected leaves into trash bags.

3. Mild outbreaks can be controlled by GreenLight “Fung-Away” spray.

4. The best product for preventing and curing Plumeria Rust is “Plantvax 75 WP”.
(this product may be out of production, but there is still a huge supply around)

Plantvax is sprayed once a month and provides complete control.

If you live anywhere along the east coast of Australia you might have noticed that the leaves of your frangipani look brown and rusty. There is a new disease attacking frangipanis in Australia called frangipani or plumeria rust (Coleosporium domingense syn C. plumeriae). It affects leaves and is only found on frangipani (Plumeria rubra).

Frangipani rustis a severe problem in Florida, and has been a problem in Queensland for the past 12 years. In recent years the disease has become more widespread in Australia. It has been noticed in Sydney for about 3 years and has been seen as far south as Nowra. It is likely to spread wherever frangipanis are grown.

What you’ll see:

Frangipani rust is most noticeable in late summer and early autumn. Small yellow pustules appear on the underside of leaves. They rupture and spread spores which pass the disease to other plants nearby. The upper sides of the leaves are brown and discoloured. Severe infections may cause the leaves to drop prematurely.


Simply tolerate the disease, or use a mixture of physical and chemical methods to reduce its spread and delay its recurrence.

Chemical: researchin the United States has shown that Plantvax, with the active ingredient oxycarboxin, controls frangipani rust and stops defoliation as well. However, oxycarboxin is not registered for this disease at present although it is registered for rust in ornamentals in Queensland and Western Australia. Plantvax is distributed by IHD Pty Ltd and is not readily available for home gardeners. For details of cost and availability contact the head office on (03) 8545 8777.

Researchers found that fungicides such as Mancozeb and sulfur which are available for home garden use to control rust and other fungal problems in ornamentals were not as effective as oxycarboxin. You could try using a general fungicide to slow the development of the disease (such as Yates Spray Insecticide and Pesticide, which contains sulfur and Mancozeb), and as a winter cleanup.

Physical: disposing of all fallen leaves in winter and spraying the tree and the area under the tree with a fungicide may slow the reappearance of frangipani rust next season. Frangipanis are normally deciduous, so they will soon lose their leaves and the problem will not reappear until humid periods of next year.

Biological: a foliar spray of friendly fungi (Verticillium lecanii) has also been an effective control in research carried out at the University of Florida. This product is not yet available in Australia.

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