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 warm coastal areas, 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.
The 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.
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.