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Plumeria Passion

Nearly 30 years of growing and sharing

Photo by Bryson Kim

Mike & Stacy Atkinson plumeria

Our story started when Stacy’s parents bought the house across the street from her childhood home. An SDSU botany professor had lived there and had some large, beautiful plumeria plants on the property (though we didn’t know what they were). The family loved the pretty, fragrant flowers, but no one knew what they were.

On a beautiful Saturday morning, our son Steven was helping Grandpa work in the yard. Grandpa accidentally broke off a piece of one of those plumeria plants. He told Steven, “Here, take this and put it in the ground in your yard and make your mama happy.” That was our first plant (a Celadine) that started it all for us in 1997. 

One day, Stacy slipped a flower in her hair before going to church. At church, a gentleman approached her and said, “That’s a beautiful plumeria.” She replied, “What’d you call it???” This discovery was courtesy of the amazing Ted Higgins, one of the founders of the Southern California Plumeria Society in San Diego. That began our longtime involvement in the local club. 

But Mike did not share Stacy’s excitement for plumeria at first. That process started when they went to Hawaii for their 20th anniversary in 2001. He got bored on the plane and grabbed a book Stacy brought – Jim Little’s Growing Plumerias in Hawaii.

After that, Stacy needed help maintaining the plumerias, and Mike offered. He’s been taking care of them ever since. Mike says, “I feed them, and Stacy is their friend.”

Stacy has taught innumerable classes on making plumeria leis and arrangements over the years, inspiring so many to creatively utilize plumeria blooms to share their beauty.

The Atkinsons on A Growing PassionMike has taught plumeria workshops in Southern California (San Diego Horticultural Society, San Diego Botanic Garden, Master Gardeners, plus many garden clubs and nurseries) and is the only person to speak at all official plumeria societies in the US. He was involved on the steering committees for the 2016 & 2023 International Plumeria Conferences. He is a longtime volunteer and speaker with the Southern California Plumeria Society, has authored many articles, and has been interviewed many times, including by the Los Angeles Times.

The PBS program “A Growing Passion” featured them and their farm on their Emmy Award-winning episode featuring plumeria, Intoxicating Plumeria,” with noted horticultural expert Nan Sterman.