Plumeria in Portland

I went on a trip to Hawaii with my family about five years ago. I brought back a small twig of a Plumeria start, and without much hope, I planted it and figured it was worth a shot.

Each winter it lost all its leaves and I thought I had been doing something wrong, but I never bothered to do any research to try to figure it out. Nearly every summer I put it outside. My neighbor used to be a chef in Hawaii and he told me it would never bloom here.

This year, around September, I noticed a fairly prominent cluster of buds. I couldn’t wait to share this news with my neighbor! The buds sat on that plant for at least a month, and every day seemed like a year with the anticipation of one actually blooming. Eventually the Portland rains started and the night temperatures dipped into the low 40s, so I brought it inside. I was terrified the abrupt change in location would cause an immediate bud-drop. Luckily, those little buds hung on.

Finally, a couple weeks ago, the first bud opened. The fragrance wasn’t very strong, but it certainly was worth the wait. It smelled even stronger after a few more opened. Today there are six blooms, two have fallen off, and many more buds are growing. After it’s done blooming, I think I’ll have to transfer it to a larger container. It would be absolutely radiant if there were two clusters of buds next year!

I suppose there is a moral to this story. Experimental gardening is a fun and sometimes rewarding activity. You can end up doing things you never thought possible. You can fail miserably, yet learn some incredibly important lessons. You can defy odds and surprise yourself. The outcome possibilities are endless; all you have to do is keep an open mind.

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