Frangipani is loved for its exquisitely formed, fragrant flowers. Despite its lush, tropical appearance, this tree is drought hardy and suited to many garden styles, bringing beauty to almost any garden. Low maintenance and easily propagated from cuttings, there’s little wonder this is one of Queensland’s most popular shade trees.
Frangipani can grow up to 10m tall when unpruned, but its non-invasive root system and slow growth also make it a practical option in smaller gardens or in pots. It will only grow about 30cm each year so is easy to keep pruned to a desirable size. It also responds well to under planting and can make an ideal shade tree — it’s lush canopy provides full, leafy shade in summer and its deciduous habit allows warming sunlight through in winter.
Each branch on a frangipani will produce three new branches each year. The angle of the branches determines the amount of spread in its growing habit. If you want a tree with a wide canopy for example, choose a plant that holds its branches at a wide angle.
Frangipani health check
While it is generally hardy, one ailment that can affect frangipani is rust disease which affects the foliage. It appears as small blemishes that look like rust dots over both sides of the leaves. Control rust by spraying with Searles Copper Oxychloride or Mancozeb Plus. Spray over and under the foliage every two weeks for a 6 to 8 week period. At the same time, remove any dropped leaves that have the disease to prevent it from spreading.
Frangipani in cold climates
Frangipani prefers tropical or subtropical conditions but can grow in more southern regions if given a sunny position protected from cold winds and frost. However, frangipani may become higher maintenance in colder areas and you will probably find a huge selection of wonderful shade trees that are better suited to your climate at your local garden centre (see our shade tree check list).
The evergreen frangipani
The evergreen or white frangipani Plumeria obtusa can be recognised by its leaves, which are rounded at the tips. The traditional white flowered variety is most widely available, but coloured cultivars are being produced. This tree will hold its leaves year-round when given adequate water and the warm climate it loves.
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