When we lived in Singapore, on one particular street corner there were two white plumeria trees (they called them frangipanis over there) side by side that had a magenta bougainvillea growing all through them. It was a magical sight.

The small plumeria in this picture is a clipping from a friend whose own plant had grown too large for its space. At the time, she’d had this tree in her backyard in Houston through six winters. It grew in a protected area near the side of her house though she never protected it from freezes. By the time she gave this clipping to me, her own tree had grown quite large and gave her beautiful fragrant blooms every summer.

I have always followed the rules: unearth the plant every autumn, gently shake the dirt off the roots, hang it, roots up, in a cool dry place for the winter and replant after all chance of frost has passed. After four years, my plant is still only three feet high. It is now September and I have had a total of five blossoms this year. A bumper crop.

This year I’m going to give it tough love. I’ll extend the babying just as far as draping a sheet over it when I suspect there will be a freeze, but other than that, it is on its own.

Okay, not completely. I have five more cuttings that I’ll probably dig up, dust off and hang up just to be sure I have fragrant plumeria next year. Even if it’s only a few blossoms.