Frangipani

The scent of frangipani conjures up images of tropical places, but even more happily, they can be grown as house or conservatory plants in temperate areas such as the UK. With a reasonable amount of space and a bright, warm position all year, the tropics can come to you.

Frangipani

Quick facts

Common name: Frangipani
Botanical name: Plumeria
Group: Conservatory or houseplant (trees, shrubs and woody climbers)
Flowering time: July to October in UK
Height and spread: 7m (22ft) x 5m (15ft)
Aspect: Sun
Hardiness: Frost tender
Difficulty: Easy

Cultivation notes

  • Grow Plumeria in pots or containers, in the house, conservatory or greenhouse border
  • Use containers with good drainage and an open, free draining growing medium, such as John Innes No.2, with extra grit or sharp sand
  • Give plants a bright position and water from spring to autumn, when the plant is dry
  • Feed with a general purpose pot plant liquid feed at 10–14-day intervals from April to when flowers begin to open, or to the end of August if there are no signs of flowers
  • Plumeria transplant easily and can be potted on when necessary, in February or March. Do not feed for the first five or six weeks after repotting
  • Repot into a slightly larger pot every other year
  • In years when not repotting, remove an inch or two of old compost from the surface, and replace it with fresh compost
  • Contact with the sap may irritate eyes and skin

Winter care

  • Keep dry in winter with an airy, dry atmosphere (similar to the winter requirements of cacti)
  • Do not feed during the winter months
  • Minimum winter temperatures should be 15°C (60°F). Any colder and the growing tips can rot
  • Start watering again in mid-March

Pruning and training

Try to avoid pruning, as the wood is soft and prone to rotting. If it becomes necessary to remove or shorten straggly growth, do this in early spring, when the plant is still dormant. Cut back to a shoot or branch junction. Replace overgrown plants rather than attempt to renovate.

Propagation

  • Take cuttings from February to March, using 10–15cm (4–6in) long sections from the tips of shoots
  • Slice the base of the cutting cleanly across with a sharp knife, then leave for a day or two for the cut end to dry and heal before inserting into a well-drained rooting medium in a propagator with bottom heat
  • If no propagator is available try inserting the cuttings in a pot, cover with a polythene bag, and place near or above a radiator
  • The rooting medium should be kept fairly dry while rooting – which under good conditions takes around four to six weeks
  • If conditions are too wet, cuttings can rot

Cultivar Selection

Plumeria ‘Aztec Gold’– scented, golden flowers
Plumeria ‘Thong Taweekun’– scented pink and orange-tinged flowers
Plumeria ‘Black Widow’–cerise flowers with strong scent

Links

RHS Find a Plant
Specialist supplier (Germany)

Problems

Glasshouse red spider mite may be problematic under glass.

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