Every year, Jungle Jack’s Plumeria introduces brand new varieties to our customers. Each addition is our own unique hybrid: not NOIDs discovered growing in someone’s backyard, not simple catalog additions of well-known plumeria, not renames of existing hybrids.
All of JJ’s varieties are developed and grown in our Thai growing grounds from our own plumeria seeds. Each seed pod results from open pollination – we don’t do any specialized pollen-to-stamen hand pollination (we could, we just don’t have time). Our fields have enough gorgeous plumeria with the excellent genetics that produce outstanding offspring. Since plumeria seedlings do not produce a duplicate of the pod parent, we get a great deal of diversity in the resultant seedlings.
Since plumeria introductions are a multi-year process with many decisions along the way, we thought you’ll enjoy a glimpse into our world of commercial plumeria production. Remember, any seedling that doesn’t pass these steps gets the axe - literally!
Step 1: we collect seeds from our favorite JJ plants, based on both the beauty of the flowers and the growth habit.
Step 2: after the seeds are germinated, they are planted in our Research and Development fields to grow and bloom. During that time, weak or spindly growing plants are culled.
Step 3: because it takes several bloom cycles to determine the true color, shape, size and fragrance, we observe the new trees… and wait. A seedling’s flower can change dramatically from season to season during this period.
Step 4: we cast a critical eye on the maturing plant. Is the flower truly unique? Is the growth habit attractive? Does it bloom reliably and prolifically?
Step 5: each seedling that displays potential is assigned a unique tree code, and a few sample cuttings are taken back to our Vista, CA growing grounds for further testing. Then, in our propagation greenhouse, we make sure that the cuttings root easily and the plant thrives and blooms as a one gallon plant. Otherwise…
Step 6: trees that ultimately don’t distinguish themselves are cut down, and the field is cleared to test the next crop of new seedlings.
Step 7: repeat the cycle above … as we continue our efforts to breed superior plumeria.
Now comes the hard part. After investing 4-6 years of effort, money and anticipation in each seedling, the new variety has to perform for you! A terrific flower in Thailand may not be so terrific outside of the tropics, leading to my next decision point: release immediately or release with just a tree code.
Some seedlings produce outstanding flowers from the start, and are introduced to the market as soon as possible. For example, the gorgeous Calypso came from a beautifully branched seedling.
Some seedlings need to prove themselves worthy, so we root a few and sell them as coded/unnamed plants
in Vista. Then, once again, I wait – this time, for feedback from the JJ fans. When I hear ‘Wow’ (think Pink Jack), it’s time for the hardest task of all.
Now that a seedling has passed all the tests, we come up with a new name. Believe me, it’s not easy! The moniker has to invoke pleasant imagery or memories, and not conflict with one of the thousands of plumeria names already in use.
By now, only about one out of a thousand seedlings has earned a JJ name and goes into production. Cuttings are taken from the mother seedling to establish new trees in our Thailand groves. It takes several years for an outstanding new variety to produce enough cuttings to satisfy demand, so until then, it is available in very limited releases.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek at our world!