The beautiful flowers set against exotic, large green leaves will also add a touch of tropical splendour.   

Native to South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, frangipanis (Plumeria) are at home in any warm climate garden and are very common in coastal suburbs. 

Depending on the species, they grow into small trees from 3-6m tall with a wide umbrella-like habit that’s ideal for providing shade. 

There are both deciduous and evergreen species, with dwarf and semi-dwarf cultivars being suited to containers and small gardens. 

To decorate the bare winter branches, use them as a support for bromeliads and orchids. 

TIP: Grown out of the tropics, most evergreens drop some leaves in winter. 

1. Choose a colour 

In Australia, frangipanis are sold by colour and variety, and the further north you go, the wider the choice.  

Breeding has resulted in more than 350 varieties in different colour forms, including shades of pink, red, yellow, orange and purple, as well as bicolours.

The hardiest frangipani in climates like Sydney is the deciduous Plumeria rubravar. acutifolia. It bears creamy white flowers with yellow centres from late spring, and there are breeds with different-coloured centres.

The evergreen white-flowering Plumeria obtusa, commonly known as ‘Singapore White’, grows best in semi-tropical and tropical areas. 

Recent breeding of ‘Singapore White’ with other species has produced a range of colours 

2. What's in a name  

The scientific name for frangipani is Plumeria. Plumeria is the genus name of frangipani and pays tribute to 17th century French botanist Charles Plumier, who documented many South American plants and animals. 

The common name, frangipani, was the name of an Italian perfume that was created by the Marquis Frangipani and used to scent gloves in the 16th century. 

When the frangipani flower was discovered, its fragrance reminded people of the scented gloves, which is how the flower got its name. 

3. Raising in pots  

Frangipanis are slow growing, so they’re perfect for pots on sunny balconies and courtyards.  

To make sure they don’t blow over, plant them in wide-based pots with good drainage and use a premium potting mix.  

Water pots every 2-3 days in summer, but let the potting mix nearly dry out in winter in between waterings. 

TIP: Apply a controlled-release fertiliser in spring and summer. 

Written by Cheryl Maddocks. Republished with permission of Handyman Australia.