Frangipani (Plumeria rubra) is a tall, spreading shrub or small tree 5-8m high, grown for its fragrant display of flowers from spring to autumn. Frangipani is native to Mexico and Central America but grown throughout the world. It is associated with Hawaii and the Pacific Islands where plants were introduced in the mid-19th century.

Plants flower from spring in the subtropics, from early summer in warm, temperate zones such as Sydney and Perth, and in mid to late summer further south. Flowering extends well into autumn. The flowers are short-lived but can be picked to float in a bowl or dish or strung to form a ‘lei’, traditionally given as a greeting in Hawaii.

Frangipani (Plumeria rubra) comes in a range of common flower colours:

  • “White” with its yellow centre, look more cream from a distance.
  • “Yellow’ which starts off yellow then fades to white as it ages due to the sun.
  • “Pink” with either orange or yellow centres, look totally pink from a distance.
  • “Red” from a distance sometimes has a small amount of orange in the centre.
  • “Orange” from a distance, has a tricolour or multicolour combination including red, pink, orange, yellow or white when up close.

Take a look at different coloured frangipanis in gardens, street plantings, parks or visit your hardware or garden centres for great advice on a variety to suit your garden.

Frangipanis are deciduous and drop their large leaves in autumn and winter. There are evergreen forms of frangipani including Plumeria obtusa, which has dark green leaves and bright, white flowers, but these only grow well in tropical climates.

Frangipanis have brown succulent stems and ooze a milky sap if the stems or leaves are broken. Avoid getting the sap in the eyes or mouth. Wipe over and clean pruning equipment to remove sap.

Growing conditions

Aspect Frangipanis need a bright, warm, sunny location with sun all or much of the day. Plants are frost tender and need protection in frost-prone areas – for example grown against a warm north-facing masonry wall, under eaves or in a pot that’s moved to a sheltered spot over winter.

Soil These plants grow in a wide range of soils with reliable moisture but good drainage. Before planting add in homemade compost, organic matter and/or Seasol Super Compost. For a no-dig option, consider Seasol Liquid Compost.

Climate Although frangipanis are native to the tropics and subtropics, they tolerate all but the coldest climates (check Aspect above for tips on growing in a cooler climates) and do very well in coastal zones.

General care

Watering These plants are drought hardy once established but appreciate a regular water when young or if growing in containers. Avoid watering when the leaves are dormant (no leaves).

Feeding and mulching Frangipanis are not heavy feeders. Feed throughout the growing season (spring to summer) with PowerFeed with Troforte All Purpose including Natives. Add to the soil prior to planting and reapply every 6 to 8 weeks.  You can also boost growth at any time of year with liquid PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives. 

Pruning Pruning is unnecessary except to remove damaged or broken growth, or to restrict its tree size. Broken or cut stems can be used to propagate more plants (allow the milky sap that oozes from stems to dry out before placing in propagating sand or Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting Potting Mix).

Watch out These plants are rarely attacked by pests but can succumb to rust, a fungal disease that affects leaves especially in late summer and early autumn. Affected leaves fall and should be collected from around the plant and put in a bag and binned (not into the compost). Throughly spray both sides of the foliage with EarthCare Rose Black Spot & insect spray to control severe outbreaks. Repeat applications might be necessary 14 days later.