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Fragrant frangipani

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
28 January 2017   |   2:10 am
Frangipanis have a delicious fragrance with overtones of peaches, jasmine, honeysuckle, and apricot that cast a spell of tropical paradise over any style of garden.


Frangipanis are spectacular flowers with strong fragrance that decorates any garden, footpaths, and parks.
Frangipanis have a delicious fragrance with overtones of peaches, jasmine, honeysuckle, and apricot that cast a spell of tropical paradise over any style of garden. An icon of the dry Harmattan season, once you are seduced by the sweet scent of the frangipani you’ll fall in love with their grace, splendor and simplicity. Frangipani is an easy flower to grow. Frangipanis thrive with little maintenance. They have been known to withstand drought and neglect, once established. You can create your personal dream garden by growing frangipanis. You need to plant frangipanis somewhere you can fully appreciate its flowers and fragrance.

A plant as deliciously fragrant as this, is always welcome planted near windows; outside a bedroom window is a great choice, for the scent as you fall asleep, or near a lounge where you sit for long periods of time. Plant one at the front gate to welcome you home each day or beside a quiet pool to create a relaxed scene. Take advantage of its wide umbrella shape under which you can throw down a mat below its boughs for lazy days in the shade, from the hot sweltering weather. They grow well in pots and planted in containers on terraces, roof gardens, patios and balconies. For containers, choose low-care dwarf frangipanis, they grow well in pots. Choose a quality potting mix and a wide, shallow pot and away you’ll go.

What frangipanis to grow?
The classic white-flowering frangipanis remain a favorite for many. But don’t be surprised they come in all the colors of the rainbow. There are over thousands varieties within the frangipani family-genus Plumeria and different flower colors from pale pinks to butter lemon to vibrant shades of orange, red, peach, mango, lipstick pink even Lilac.

They also come in bi-colors, tri-colors with striped petals. Petal shapes also vary from thick over-lapping scalloped petals to elegant elongated petals. Choose wisely as frangipanis last forever. New colors have new fragrances too and it is interesting to discern vanilla, coconut, apricot and jasmine scents in some varieties. There are at least 8 to 9 different fragrances.

Propagating Frangipani
Frangipanis can be propagated by seed but are usually grown from cuttings, which is easier, and can be taken from several parts of the tree including herbaceous stems, woody stems, softwood, semi-hardwood and hardwood. Once you have taken the cutting, allow it dry out for a week or so before planting. This gives time for the cut ends to heal over or form a callous. Leave the cuttings exposed to air, but out of direct sun, to aid the process, which is called “hardening off” and must be done with any succulent-type plant. Make sure that the cuttings stay dry: keep them away from any possibility of rain.

Frangipani cuttings can be planted directly in the ground or in pots. Use a coarse well-draining pot mix; cactus or sand and perlite should be fine.

What Frangipanis need to grow?
Frangipanis thrive in well-drained soil, plenty of sun and warmth. They love growing by the beach in sandy soils and are one of the best trees for tolerating salty air along the coast. They will struggle in clay soils, where it is difficult for water to drain away. In this case it is best to keep growing them in large containers or pots. Just ensure the potting medium you use has good drainage and won’t retain too much water. In this regard, avoid using a normal potting mix for frangipani cuttings because they will rot if the mixture stays too moist. Use a fast draining propagating mix. Water sparingly.

The frangipani cuttings should be placed fairly deep in the container. Pack the soil firmly around the cutting, so it can stand on it’s own. Then water the frangipanis cutting and pack the soil around the plant if it has loosened. Continue to water the container every 3 to 4 days, until the roots have started to establish themselves. Place your container in an area that gets full to partial sun. Being quite drought tolerant, mature frangipanis will be able to withstand it if the soil is dry for days even weeks. However, young plant requires watering weekly in dry weather until they are established. If you decide to transplant the cutting, be wary as the roots are brittle. Gently remove from the pot and transplant into well-drained soil and place in a sunny spot.

Water only during dry months sparingly and hold off completely during the wet season.

You’ll be pleased to know that frangipani rarely need feeding, although they will flower bigger and better than ever if you spread some fertilizer around the drip line (under the branches) Fertilize with a high-potassium fertilizer, phosphate(phosphorus) fertilizer like 10-30-10, giving too much nitrogen will only result in more foliage growth and less flowering.

Mature frangipanis can grow 6m high and 5m wide, although older trees can grow taller. They grow slowly only about 20cm per year. This along with their small root ball, makes them ideal for planting around pools, in planter beds, containers and beside walls, as there is no fear the roots will harm any structures. If they become top heavy they can be pruned without fear of failure. Trees around pools can be trained from an early age giving the impression the tree is leaning over and hugging the pool. If you are a gardener restricted to containers choose a quality fast draining potting mix and a wide shallow pot.

Problems with Frangipanis?
During wet, cool weather frangipanis can be susceptible to root, branch and tip rot, which is caused by a fungus, you will know plants are affected when you notice the stems becoming soft. To check on your plants health, squeeze the stems-firm stems indicate healthy tree. To reduce the risks, avoid over watering and watering during the rainy season. Also if stems become wrinkled; the tree is not well-cease watering and spray leaves with AntiRot. If you notice spongy stems, remove the stem completely to the junction with a main branch. Thinning out 15 to 20 percent of the canopy of your mature frangipani is something good to do every few years; it opens up the branches, allows light in and reduces stem rot.

Frangipanis do have a milky sap that can be irritating on some people’s skin, causing rashes and blistering in extreme cases. If ingested, the sap can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Be careful wear gloves and do not rub your eyes, wash your hands well after cutting and planting.

Put stems of flower in a bowl of water to make petals and fragrance of cut flowers last a few days. Stop the flowers from falling in the water by poking their stems in the water through a plastic PVC gutter guard or plastic mesh over the top of the bowl.

Frangipani flowers are looking nice this time of the year. Have you noticed them in your area? I love all the different colors and particularly deciduous (leafless-+) trees with all the branches covered with flowers. And the fresh soft scents that fills the air. You can grow your own frangipani from cuttings and you too can enjoy the beautiful flowers and the fragrant perfume of frangipanis in your garden.

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