How To Grow And Care For Frangipani

Frangipani (Plumeria rubra) is native to tropical and subtropical Pacific Islands, Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. It can tolerate subtropical climate also. The Hymenosporum flavum frangipani is a rain-forest tree, native to New Guinea and Queensland and New South Wales in Australia.

Continue reading below to learn how to grow frangipani tree from cuttings and how to care for a frangipani tree growing in ground or a potted frangipani including watering, fertilization, pruning and pests and diseases.

Frangipani Plumeria Tree
Frangipani Plumeria

There are more than 300 varieties of frangipani. Most plumeria trees are deciduous which grow up to about eight meters (25 ft) high and four meters (15 ft) wide. The tree grows slowly, about 30 cm (1 foot) a year. The frangipani flowers come in various colors including white, yellow, pink, orange, red, purple, etc.  The tree has large dark green glossy leaves which drop in winter. The frangipani tree has wide umbrella shape with beautiful flowers to admire. You can place a small table and chair underneath to enjoy coffee.

The frangipani is known by different names in different cultures. It is known as Champa in Hindi, Kath Champa inBengali, Champo in Gujrati, Chafa in Marathi, and Yasmin in Persian. Its other names are deva ganneru (divine nerium), melia, Arali, araliya, Temple Tree, egg yolk flower tree,  jepun, tipanie, kalachuchi, etc.

How To Grow Frangipani

Frangipanis are generally grown from cuttings although grafting may also be done. The frangipaniis actually love neglect, they are very easy to care for.

Where To Plant Frangipani

Frangipani prefers dry, warm and frost-free climates. Planting them at the place which gets at least 6 hours sun.

Soil For Frangipani

Frangipanis thrive in well-drained sandy soil. They will not do well in water retaining clay soils in which the plant roots and stem will rot and die.

Growing Frangipani Plumeria From Stem Cuttings

Frangipani can be propagated easily by stem cuttings in spring. It is very easy to grow frangipani from cuttings, they are easy to strike from cuttings. The cuttings can be taken from spring to summer.
  1. Only seasoned wood will develop roots, as green wood is too soft and may rot. I usually cut a stem with at least 2 side branches with a pruning shears.
  2. Remove any flowers and flower buds and lower leaves. The stem and leaves of the frangipani tree will ooze out milky white sap at the cuts.
  3. Put the cutting in shade for 1 to 3 weeks.
  4. Fill a pot with free-draining soil. I use potting mix and corse river sand in equal amount. The river sand makes the soil porus, thereby free-draining. You could use perlite only as the rooting medium.
  5. Aplly some rooting hormone at the cut end to promote rooting, although it is not essential.
  6. Plant the frangipani cutting in the pot, water and place in shade but warm place. Keep the soil damp. Too much water will rot the cuttings.
  7. You can use heating mat or place the pot in a greenhouse, or just leave in shade. All will root, heating mat will root quickest, then the greenhouse one and lastly the shade cuttings.

Rooting cuttings in a bag

Instead of the planting the frangipani cutting in a pot, bag rooting of frangipani cuttings can be tried.
Put the moist propagating media in a bag, then insert the cutting and wrap the bag around the cutting tightly.  The watering is done through a syringe.

Watering

Frangipanis are very tolerant of dry conditions. Young plants need water once a week in summer when the soil is dry. The mature plants are drought tolerant and needs less water. But prolonged dry spells will turn leaves yellow and cause them to drop. Too much water can rot roots and stems. So limit on watering and avoid watering in winter. Spongy stem shows that it is rotten, remove it from the junction with the main branch.

Frangipani Pruning

Pruning of frangipani tree is not required for many years. The matures trees may need tinning of the canopy by 15% to open up the branches, allowing sun light. This will reduce stem rot. To check on your plant’s health squeeze the stems: a firm stem indicates a healthy tree.

Frangipani Flowers
Frangipani Flowers


Frangipani Flowers Meaning and Symbolism

  1. The frangipani flowers represent natural beauty, dedication and devotion.
  2. Hindu and Buddhist consider frangipani flowers a sign of immortality.
  3. In the Chinese culture, plumeria is associated with love.
  4. In South India, the flowers are worn by bride in her hair.
  5. In the Hawaiian culture, they means power of withstanding tough challenges. They symbolize intense love between two people. A girl wearing a frangipani flower over her right ear means she is available, while one over the left means not available.

Plumeria Flowering

Frangipanis flower during spring to summer. New stems will not flower for 2 years. Similarly branches that were pruned will also take 2 years to bloom.  The flowers are most fragrant at night.

Are frangipani flowers poisonous?

The aromatic flowers are traditionally used to make leis. While most parts of frangipanis are toxic, the flowers are mildly edible. Eating leaves or flowers can irritate the digestive tract.The Frangipani is mildly poisonous if you eat the entire flower. The milky sap in the plant is mildly poisonous.
When animals like dogs and cats ingest whole flowers they can develop vomiting, diarrhea and excessive salivation.

How To Force Branching in Frangipani

Many people ask how to get frangipani to branch. The plant  will branch itself from the strm which has produced flowers heavily. The healthy plant will encourage branching as the branch matures.
Some people recommend to make light leaf scars with sand paper to induce branching, but did not work for my frangipani plants. The best way to force branching in frangipani is to give the plant lots of sun.

Frangipani Problems, Pests and Diseases

The frangipani tree can have problems and diseases like fungus or mold, scales resultin in curled leaves, yellow-orange leaf rust, etc. periodic spray of copper fungicies, pest oil and neem oil spray will control the frangipani problems.

Frangipani Root System

Frangipani trees have a small compact root ball, so they can be grown in pots or near walls, will not harm any pipes, cables, buildings, structures, etc

Growing Frangipani in Containers

Due to its slow growth and a small root ball, the frangipani tree can be grown in a pot. Frangipanis are therefore ideal choice for balconies, terraces, roof gardens and patios.  I have grown 3 different color flower frangipani trees in a container of size 40 cm wide.

Growing Frangipani in Cold Climates

  1. The frangipani is a warm climate tree, but it can grow in cold climates, provided you take some care.
  2. Place the plant in the warm location where it receives most sun.
  3. It is better to plant frangipani in a pot, so that you can move it in sunny locations during day and indoors during night or winter.
  4. You can plant the tree near a brick wall and brick paving so that the tree gets the radiated heat stored in the wall. You can also use mirrors to reflect sun on the tree. These tricks will help the tree withstand cooler winters.
  5. You can use mirror reflections to direct sun on to the plant in cooler areas.
  6. The obvious question is can frangipani be grown indoors? You can move the plant indoors under very cold conditions but you must get the right conditions of warmth and sunshine as soon as possible.

Video of Growing Frangipani from cuttings


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