Best known as frangipani and beloved for the incredibly rich and exotic perfume of its flowers, Plumeria is a frost-tender shrub that needs a warm growing environment as it originates from tropical and subtropical regions including the Far East, Africa, and the Pacific.
Plumeria has strong traditional associations with Hawaii, where the flowers are used to make leis, or garlands, given to visitors as a token of friendship. It flowers in a wide range of colours from yellow, red, pink and mauve, as well as white, plus many spectacular bi-colours. The large blooms are borne on fleshy, succulent stems in summer and autumn. Given an unrestricted root run in a conservatory or greenhouse border, plants may attain several metres in height, but a container will restrict ultimate plant size.
Where to grow Plumeria
Plumeria is not suitable for growing outside in the UK, but it makes an excellent house plant and works well in conservatories. Choose a well lit position with a minimum temperature of 10°C – you may need to move it out of the conservatory in winter.
How to plant frangipani
Plant Plumeria in a good-sized, sturdy pot, using soil-based compost such as John Innes no 2 with added coarse grit or perlite to ensure sharp drainage. Ensure the rootball sits at the same level it was in its original pot, firm gently and water well, allowing the water to drain completely.
How to care for Plumeria
Water sparingly for the best results. While in growth from spring to autumn, water only as required to keep the compost moist and take care not to overwater. Feed once a month with a general liquid fertilizer. In winter, reduce watering to almost nothing, allowing the compost to almost dry out.
How to propagate Plumeria
Take frangipani cuttings in spring. Using secateurs, cut the stem tips, allowing the base of each stem to dry before placing in pots of seed compost, mixed with a third of vermiculite to aid drainage.
How to prune frangipani
Prune Plumeria as little as possible and only if necessary to restrict growth or to trim straggly shoots. Carry out any pruning in late winter.
Growing Plumeria: pests and diseases
Stem rot may occur if the plant has had too much water. Take care to water sparingly: ensure the pot drains freely and the rootball doesn’t sit in water.
Red spider mite may be a problem, especially where the atmosphere is dry. Improving levels of humidity deters this pest, by standing the pot in a pebble and water-filled saucer so the pot is clear of the water.
Advice on buying Plumeria
- Frangipani are offered in several sizes from specialist nurseries, starting at seedling size, up to ready-grown plants 60-100cm tall. Plumeria can take several years to bloom so buy as large a plant as you can afford
- Ensure you have the correct growing conditions for frangipani, as it can suffer if exposed to too much cold and wet
- Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before planting