Monday, 26 October 2015


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I recently went on holiday to Tenerife and in the hotel grounds was an amazing Franzipani tree.  It looked similar to a magnolia tree but had the most wonderful, scented white flowers.  
Plumeria (common name Frangipani) is a small genus of 7-8 species native to tropical and subtropical Americas. Frangipanis are relatively small trees growing only to about 5-6m in height. They have gnarled branches, long leaves and distinctive flowers. Frangipani flowers appear in clusters at the the end of the branches, and are distinctively scented. The petals are waxy with the centre of the flower a different colour to the rest.

This tropical plant cannot be grown outside all year round in the UK, and requires moving to a heated greenhouse for the winter. However this makes it ideal to be grown in pots and brought in during the colder winter period. 

You can grow them successfully in large containers filled with well drained, fertile soil.  Mix two parts John Innes No 3 with one part horticultural grit. Choose a large container with a diameter of at least 40 cm and plenty of volume. If over time the tree becomes pot-bound, lift it out and prune back the roots before re-potting into fresh potting mix.

Frangipanis should be positioned in sheltered, sunny position with at least 6 hours of sun each day. These are tropical plants so place them in the warmest, sunniest spot in the garden.  During the growing season feed your frangipani occasionally with a soluble fertiliser, high in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. Water moderately in summer and just enough to ensure that young trees become established.

Frangipanis respond well to pruning, which should be carried out in late winter or early spring. Frangipani flowers appear only at the end of branches that are two years old, so in order to ensure a continuous display of flowers consider pruning the plant over two years. Cut back the branches to half or one third of their natural length to encourage them to sprout multiple branches near the pruned ends.

The plants require a dormancy period during in the winter. In the autumn move them to a warm protected area such as a hot house or placing your frangipani on a concrete path against a brick wall where it will get radiated heat (and be protected from frost and wind).  Do not water or feed the plants as Frangipani will not tolerate its root system being over wet and cold at the same time.

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