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Growing Frangipani

General Care of Frangipani

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Planting Frangipani

Planting in pots : Select a pot that will match the size of your plant and will allow it to grow for a couple of seasons. You need a good quick draining medium without water crystals, I find that the Red Tick potting mix from Big W is very good and well priced, you do not need a mix with all the additives as you will be adding your own fertilizer. I recomend Organic Extra or Dynamic Lifter Complete, they are a pelletized fertilizer that has all the necessary ingrediants for healthy plants. Half fill your pot then place your root ball in the centre of it(you need a few inches of trunk in the mix) and top the pot up, you will need to give the pot a good shake or tap it on the ground to help the mix settle, add a handfull or two of the fertilizer around the outer edge of the pot(spread it out slightly so it is not mounded) then add extra potting mix to fill the pot and tamp it down. Add a stake to the pot to hold the frangipani in place then water the plant in until water runs out of the drain holes, I add seasol to the water as it helps to de-stress the frangipani. You can then place it somewhere where it will get full sun for a minimum of 6 hours a day, it is best to pot up at the start of spring so that you can get good growth  on your frangipani.


Planting in the ground : Dig a hole at least 40 cm deep and across(bigger if required), if the soil is to heavy you can add sand and gypsum or just use potting mix. Add some fertilizer and back fill the hole till it is deep enough to take the root ball & a few inches of the trunk then put your frangipani in and proceed to fill the hole to the top and mound it slightly, Add a stake to steady your plant and spead some fertilizer around the top then water it in, if the soil settles just add some more, as above you can add seasol to the water to de-stress the plant.


If the ground you want to use does get a bit boggy at times you can fix this by filling the hole almost to the top with bluestone, add some fertilizer then add some soil/mix.  Place the root ball on top this the then add more mix/soil so that you have a good mounded rise to support the frangipani, put a stake in the ground to support it then water it in as above,  you only need half a litre or so of water to do this. Once the plant establishes itself, it has a quick draining medium(bluestone) below it so it should not get wet roots and be able to grow normally.





When you take cuttings you should only cut seasoned wood as green wood is too soft, the wood will shrink back and it will not develop roots as easily. A cutting needs to be at least 30 cm or longer preferably, cut the leaves off(leaving a small piece of the leaf stem to prevent open wounds),  and dip the cut in rooting hormone/powder(wet cut end if necessary) then put it somewhere out of direct sun to harden, depending on the weather the cut will start to swell after a few weeks or longer, this is a sign that it is ready to start growing roots.

To plant a cutting you need a quick draining mix that is a bit sharp, you can use cactus mix, sand and potting mix or coco fibre and hail stone(5mm rock).  I use black plastic pots as they hold heat better, one 15 cm tall x 7cm wide is fine for a 30cm cutting, if the cutting is bigger you will need a bigger pot but you do not want a very wide one. Half fill it with your mix, add the cutting then top it up and tap it on the ground a few times to settle the mix and firm the cutting in place, you can also stake it if you are afraid it will move then water it in. Place it out of direct sun but where it will get heat, concrete is good for this, when it starts to grow leaves it is a sign that the cutting may have grown roots, you can check this by try to lift the cutting with steady pressure, if it is solid then there are roots. You can start to lightly  water it to increase the growth rate but never water it while it has no leaves. If the cutting starts to "prune" before it grows leaves you can mist the effected area daily until it clears up or just add a very small amount of water, I prefer the misting.

If the cuttings proves to be difficult to root or the wood is a bit green  I use a method I have developed that works very well. Add 30 to 40cm of mix to the bottom of the pot and wet it thoroughly then place a thin layer(3mm to 5mm) of 5mm bluestone/hailstone over it so that it is just covered. Place the cutting on top of this so that it does not contact the mix then fill the pot with more bluestone/hailstone. The cutting senses the moisture and will start to send out roots to look for it but it does not rot as all the moisture is below the cutting, once leaves & roots develop you can re-pot the cutting or place it in the ground.

I also use bluestone/hailstone in my normal potting mixes as it toughens the roots so they are not  too brittle and snap off when the cutting is removed from the pot.

Click on the link at the bottom of the page(Difficult to root cuttings) for a detailed description with pics.


Rooting cuttings in a bag

A new method that is proving very succesful is to root your cuttings in plastic bags, I am getting roots growing in around 2 to 3 weeks . To do it make sure you let the cutting dry out for a week or two then you use a heavy plastic bag(I use Glad snap lock bags 18cm x 17cm), you can use sphagnum moss, coco-fibre or almost any other rooting mix, even combine a couple(I use sphagnum moss & coco-fibre 50/50) but it needs to be moist only so you may need to squeeze the water out of it or it can cause rot. Put your mix in the bag then insert the cutting so it is in the middle of it then wrap the bag around the cutting so it is tight with no open space. Once you have twisted the top of the bag around the stem wrap electicians tape or similar around it to keep it air-tight and make sure the cutting is firm in the mix.  I place the bagged end in a black plastic pot that has sunlight on it(laying on its side) but keep the cutting protected so it doesnt burn but you can place it anywhere that the cutting is not in direct sunlight. The roots will start to appear after a few weeks if the conditions are right but it can take quite a while as well, watch out for any rot that may develop if the mix is too wet. Once there is a good root ball cut open the bag carefully as the roots are very brittle and plant it into the ground or a pot.


Branching/New Branches

Trees will branch when either they develop an inflo(flowers), they throw a false inflo(doesnt develop flowers) or they are cut/damaged. Potted seedlings can tend to end up very leggy if the owners do not take care of them(feed, water & lots of sun), I have seen seedlings 2 metres tall that have never flowered, in some cases owners will cut them in the hope to get them to send out new growth. Once a frangipani reaches a resonable size you should make sure you give it a fertilizer with a higher P.K  and lower N content to encourage flowering, lots of sun also helps


Size of Trees

The branching habits of a frangipani can indicate the potential size it will grow to, ones that branch/flower close together will remain small(dwarf), those that branch further apart but not leggy will either be semi dwarf or medium sized trees while those that branch well apart(leggy) will be tall.

For patios ar small areas the dwarf varieties are best, same applies to potted ones but you can always trim larger ones to maintain the size you want them to be.

Forcing Branching in Frangipani

I get a lot of people asking me how to get frangipani to branch, although there are a few methods recomended by some people, it is really up to the plant itself as frangipani usually only branch after pushing up an inflo(flower). I have had reasonably young frangipani start to throw branches after a heavy dose of fertilizer but cannot recomend that this was the cause as other frangipani did not throw any branches. Once the wood has aged a bit and is not green taking a cutting usually will induce branching as well from the leaf scars directly below the cut provided it is a healthy plant and not too young, trouble is that it changes the look of the frangipani as the centre has  been cut out. Some people think that lightly sanding leaf scars with sand paper can induce branching as well, there is also some that think mixing gibberrellic acid with lanolin and applying it around the stem will induce them too but  I have tried both and neither worked for me. If the frangipani is healthy, well fed and gets lots of sun it will grow quickly which will eventually bring on branching but trying to force them is not recomended.


The flowers on seedlings can go through a series of changes, this is why you cannot register a seedling that has only flowered once, it needs to have flowered several times so that the true colouration has set in. A flower can start off just being soft colours yet over the next few flowerings it can totally change the colours and the strength of them. I know of a couple of people that have cut a seedling that they thought was just plain  and used it as root stock but the cut tips I took and grew on ended up with a beautiful flower a few years later.

Another thing people need to allow for is the temperature/climate, while a flower may look pale in one area in another is can be very vibrant. This is especially true with imports from warm areas(Thailand etc), the colour of the flowers in Australia can be quite poor compared to their home country. The purples and reds really show this up, the purples tend to look a soft violet/pink yet are true purples with heat and the reds can lose a lot of their darkness/intensity too. The various climates around Australia will also cause flowers to colour up/smell differently, the heat factor have a lot to do with it.

A good example of colour change can be seen in the pics below, this is a seedling I grew and watched go through the changes, the original colours(1) were fantastic but the change(2) was even more so.

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© Dennis

Difficult to Root Cuttings