Growing Frangipanis

Add a touch of the tropics to your yard with an easy propagation technique

Growing Frangipanis

Best known as a small tree featuring fragrant white blooms with distinctive yellow centres, frangipanis actually come in more than 300 different varieties.

Native to Central America and Mexico, frangipanis belong to the Plumeriagenus and are a small to medium deciduous tree.

Frangipanis have glossy dark green foliage, and the stems and leaves contain milky white sap. The flowers come in shades of pink, yellow, orange, red and even purple. 

Relatively slow growing, the majority reach up to about eight metres high and four metres wide, making them a great choice for
small gardens. The dwarf varieties are ideal for growing in pots.

As frangipanis are frost tender they grow well in the warm coastal areas of Australia, but with a bit of TLC can be container grown in slightly cooler zones. 

They are very tolerant of dry conditions and once established they don’t really need much watering except during long periods of drought. 

In the garden

Frangipanis can cope with light sea breezes but prefer protection from strong winds. In cooler climates, it’s essential to give them the warmest and sunniest spot in the garden. 

If grown in pots, move them to a sheltered area in late autumn, in a north-facing position against a brick wall where at night the tree will get the heat stored from the day. 

A frangipani tree is perfect for creating summer shade and letting in winter sun when its leaves drop. 

Hang small baskets planted with brightly coloured pansies or petunias from the branches of a bare tree in winter to brighten up the garden. 

TIP The variety with yellow-throated white flowers is the most commonly grown and earliest to flower.

Going native 

The Australian rainforest tree Hymenosporum flavum is called the native frangipani because of its creamy yellow, sweet-smelling flowers but is not related to the Plumeria species. Growing well in most areas of the country, it’s an evergreen tree that reaches 20m. The branches grow in horizontal layers and the glossy, dark green leaves have hairy undersides. 

native frangipani, handyman m agazine,
Australian rainforest tree Hymenosporum flavum is called native frangipani due to its yellow, sweet-smelling flowers. Image: Getty Images 

How to grow 

Frangipanis grow well in most types of soil but good drainage is essential. 

POSITION in a location that receives at least six hours of sun a day. 

They tolerate part shade but grow faster and flower better in a sunny spot.

WATER young trees during the growing season until established then only during extended dry periods. Let pot plants dry out between waterings.

FEED with organic fertiliser high in phosphorous when the leaves appear, to encourage lots of flowering and strong root growth.  Use a liquid seaweed solution every 14 days during the growing season.

MULCH the soil to keep the roots cool in summer and warm in winter, retain moisture and suppress weeds. 

To avoid stem rot problems, don’t apply mulch near the trunk.

PRUNE only to shape the tree and maintain the size during late winter or early spring before leaf growth starts. For a compact, dense and leafy tree, prune branches back by a third to half their length, creating lots of shoots near the pruned ends. Make cuts vertical so sap drips off and water can’t penetrate the branch.

WATCH FOR stem rot caused by frost, drought, lack of sunlight or old age, pruning any dry or withered growth back to healthy tissue.

Frangipani rust causes orange pustules to appear on the underside of leaves while the tops go brown. Gather and destroy fallen foliage, then spray the tree with fungicide in the warm months and again in winter as a preventative measure.  

Propagating from stem 

Frangipanis are easily propagated from a stem in early spring or winter when there is less sap movement. 

Find a broken piece of branch or cut one off the tree and trim the end. Leave the cutting outside for a couple of weeks to dry out the milky sap in the stem, allowing the cut to heal and develop a callus.

Pot up the stem cutting in a good quality potting mix and in a few weeks it will form roots and grow leaves. 

TIP Water regularly during the growing season.

Step 1. Cut off pieces of stem 

Cut off pieces of stem about 300mm long using a handsaw, being careful to not tear the bark, then scrape one end with a sharp knife.

step 1. cut off pieces of stem, handyman magazine,

Step 2.  Plant the stem 

Plant  the stem into a container filled with potting mix and water in. Plant large cuttings 600mm deep in a bed and stake until established.
 

step 2. plant the stem, handyman magazine,
 

Choosing a variety 

Frangipanis are selected by colour, so visit your local nursery to buy one in flower that suits the climate of the area, or go online to buy a tree from a specialist supplier. 

Black red 

  • Dark red flowers
  • Spicy perfume
  • Grows up to 4m high 
  • Reaches 4m wide
  • For warmer zones
black red frangipani, handyman magazine,
Black red frangipanis have dark red flowers and emit a spicy perfume 

Candy stripe 

  • White, red and yellow to orange striped flower
  • Sweet perfume
  • Grows up to 9m high
  • Reaches 9m wide
candy stripe, handyman magazine,
Candy stripe frangipanis have white, red and yellow to orange striped flowers

Cerise

 

  • Hot pink blooms with orange centres
  • Grows to 5m high and wide
  • Peachy sweet scent
  • Long, strappy petals
cerise frangipani, handyman magazine,
Cerise frangipanis have hot pink flowers with orange centres 

Monsoon 

  • Round orange flowers with a pink blush
  • Red veining on blooms
  • Grows to 4m high
  • Highly scented
monsoon frangipani, handyman magazine,
Monsoon frangipanis have round orange flowers with a pink blush

Butter yellow 

  • Vivid yellow petals
  • Large flower clusters
  • Heavy bloomer
  • Sweet fragrance
  • Grows up to 3m high
butter yellow frangipani flowers, handyman magazine,
Butter yellow frangipanis have a sweet fragrance and grow up to 3m high 

Singapore white 

  • Large white flowers
  • Dark green leaves
  • Grows up to 5m high
  • Reaches 5m wide
  • Evergreen in warm areas
singapore white handyman magazine,
Singapore white frangipanis are evergreen in warmer climates 
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Growing Frangipanis

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