Spectacular Plumeria or Frangipani
Known by either name equally often (and many others), this plant produces some of the most wonderful flowers to be found anywhere. Unfortunately, the spectacular plumeria is tropical and needs some care if it is to show its best.
Residents and visitors to the tropics will have seen this plant everywhere, since it is extremely popular, for example in Hawaii and Florida. It typically grows to become a small tree at about 15 to 18 feet tall unless it is in a pot. The beautiful waxy flowers are on show throughout the summer and even into the fall. Most strikingly, they produce a wonderful strong scent too.
There are a number of species and they have a range of flower color and appearance, some are deciduous and others evergreen. All however love full sun, hate the cold and hate soggy roots! Plumeria rubra (Frangipani rubra) and its hybrids/grafts is probably the most common.
P. rubra actually comes in a range of colors: orange, yellow, full red.
Although they are often grown in open ground they are perhaps best grown in pots in coarse sand/soil mix (think cactus) so that they can have free-draining roots and can be moved indoors away from the cold where this is a challenge in sub-tropical locations.
Watering should be only enough to keep the soil on the dry side of damp through the summer and can be stopped in the winter. A weekly feed of phosphate-rich fertilizer will help flowering in preference to leaf growth.
Propagation is best done by taking cuttings from the end of the shoots in spring before the buds start to grow. They can be simply stuck into the well-draining soil and watered thoroughly, though some species may root better if the cutting ends are allowed to dry before planting and the soil is just kept damp, not wet.
Frangipani rubra tricolor
P. rubra ‘Pauahi Ali’i’
P. rubra ‘Bali Hai Gold’
P. rubra Red
P. obtusa has yellow center to its three-inch flowers.
P. pudica is almost evergreen
Featured image – P. rubra ‘tricolor’:photo; Trina McLellan
More wonderful colors are available from Florida Colors Nursery