Okeechobee County Extension Service

458 Highway 98 North

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail:  indianco@ufl.edu 



Feature Article - original release  July 25, 2004

Dan Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent

Frangipani for a Tropical Look

Are you looking for an easy to grow tropical tree that is sure to make your Florida Yard a tropical paradise?  Consider adding a Frangipani tree to the warmer areas of your yard.  This easy to grow tree will cover itself with fragrant colorful flowers from mid-spring through the beginning of winter or can be grown in containers if your landscape will be visited by Jack Frost.

There many different species of Plumeria, plus several hybrids and hundreds of cultivars.  While it is a native of Central America and the Caribbean area, it is probably thought of as a symbol of Hawaii - it is best know as the source of the Hawaiian lea, a necklace made from a string of these fragrant flowers. This tropical wonder is also commonly called Plumeria, or Temple Tree.  

Plumeria rubra is the most common species of Frangipani. It is a deciduous tree with 18 inch-long leaves. They have many flower colors ranging from rose with a yellow center to tricolored white, rose and yellow flowers.  Another species (P. alba) has white fragrant flowers and narrow leaves that have rolled back edges, while P. obtusa has white bloom with a yellow center and evergreen leaves with a rounded tip.

Plumeria rubra, Photo Courtesy Texas A&M University

Okeechobee Master Gardener Bill Hendry has this Plumeria variety growing in his yard.

Plumeria obtusa, Photo courtesy Thomas Boller, University of Basel, Switzerland.


Mature Frangipani tree - note domed shape. (Photo by Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS)

While most frangipani are deciduous, there is a white flowered evergreen Plumeria  known as Bridal Bouquet, Plumeria pudica

Multiple branches grow from a single node; these may be removed for propagation and can to strengthen the Frangipani tree. (Photo by Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS)

In the landscape, give this plant some room, as it can spread into a dome shaped mass that can reach 25 feet tall and wide.  It has inch thick fleshy stems with a full canopy of long leaves.  All parts of the plant contain a white sap which can irritate the skin.  Frangipani is closely related to the Oleander and Allamanda, all know to be poisonous.

If Frangipanis are planted in the ground, they should be placed where they will get full sun or light shade.  Choose a well-drained soil and a site where there is good air circulation, but protected from the North winter winds.  In interior and central Florida, Frangipani can be grown in containers and brought inside during freezing temperatures.

Even though this is a tropical plant, many Frangipanis will drop their leaves in the short days of winter. They will resume their growth of leaves and flowers once night temperatures return to the 60-degree levels.  Because of this leaf drop in the fall and a dead stick appearance in winter, consider where it is placed in your Florida Yard.

Many nurseries carry this plant in a variety of sizes.  Hobbyist growers and some commercial sources can supply many different color varieties of Plumeria as cuttings.  (We can give you some internet links to some of these colorful sources.)

Propagation of new Plumeria is very easy.  Recently a delivery truck backed into my frangipani, breaking off a few of the lower branches.  I took the outermost one or two feet from these branches, removed all the leaves and flower stalks then cleaned up the cut ends.  Placing these sticks in a shady spot for a few weeks will allow the cuts to heal.  These foot long “cuttings” are then used to grow new Frangipani.

I recommend that the cuttings be inserted several inches into a container of well-drained potting soil and placed in a shady area until new leaves start to grow.  New growth indicates that new roots have formed, and the plant can then be gradually moved into brighter locations.  Frangipanis destined for the landscape also respond to early container rooting to get them off to a good start.

Once established, routine care of this tree is easy. If your lawn surrounds your Frangipani, lawn fertilization will be sufficient for good growth. Monroe County Agent Kim Gable says that they will respond to super bloom fertilizer applied during the warm growing season.  In our area, avoid the use of high phosphorous containing fertilizers (the middle number) unless soil tests indicate they are needed. Excess nitrogen will make the plant larger and less cold tolerant.  Apply about 1 pound per inch of trunk diameter, distributing granular fertilizers in a big circle two feet beyond the end of the branch tips.  

As far as insects are concerned, Frangipani may occasionally be bothered by scale insects, according to Collier County Extension Entomologist Doug Caldwell. They are occasionally chewed on by large (6-inch) red-footed zebra-colored caterpillar. One frangipani caterpillar can devour three good size leaves a day before it turns into a Tetrio Sphinx moth (Pseudosphinx tetrio).

A more significant pest is Frangipani rust (Coleosporium plumierae), a fungus that causes early leaf drop in the fall and winter.  Look for yellow, powdery spots forming under the leaves.  Once a leaf has become infected, there is nothing that can be done for that leaf, and it will infect new leaves.  Control begins with raking up and disposing of all infected leaves your household waste.  Use of 3 or 4 applications of  fungicide spray at 2 to 3 week intervals can also help break the rust cycle.   Fungicides will allow the leaves to stay on the tree a few weeks longer, allowing it to store more food reserves and return from its winter dormancy with a stronger growth rate.    

If you need additional information on Frangipani, take a look at  our internet site, http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu or email me at indianco@ufl.edu.  You can visit with our Okeechobee County Extension office for more information or call us at 863-763-6469 or stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee.


Common Frangipani pests are Rust (left) and the Frangipani caterpillar.

Pest photos by D. Caldwell, UF/IFAS
Frangipani seed pods (above) are unusual.  Young pods may be curved, but most will be straight.  When they split open, many winged seed will be released.  If you wish to save them to grow from seed, wrap a thin wire around the pod before they turn brown to prevent the seed from scattering.  (Photos by Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS) 


Brown, Stephen.  Plumeria pudica Bridal Bouquet, Fiddle Leaf Plumeria. Fort Myers: UF/IFAS Lee County Extension Service, October 2009. http://lee.ifas.ufl.edu/Hort/GardenPubsAZ/PlumeriaPudica.pdf 

ibid. Plumeria alba White Frangipani.  Fort Myers: UF/IFAS Lee County Extension Service, October 2009.   http://lee.ifas.ufl.edu/Hort/GardenPubsAZ/PlumeriaAlbaWhiteFrangipani.pdf 

ibid.  Identification of the Four Forms of Plumeria rubra.    Proceedings of the Florida. State Hort. Soc. 121:406–407. 2008. http://lee.ifas.ufl.edu/Hort/GardenPubsAZ/GL25_Brown.pdf 

Caldwell, Doug. Frangipani for the Bugs.  Naples : UF/IFAS Collier County Extension Service, July 2004.  

Dunfrord, James C. and Barbara, Kathryn A. Frangipani Hornworm (Featured Creatures, EENY-344).   Gainesville:  UF/IFAS Department of Entomology March 2011.  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in621 

Gabel. Kim.   Frangipani.  Key West: UF/IFAS Monroe County Extension Service, August 2003. http://monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/Hort/2006_News_Articles/Frangipani_2.06.pdf 

Gilman, E. & Watson, Dennis.   Plumeria rubra (Frangipani).    Gainesville:  UF/IFAS Extension Service Southern Trees Fact Sheet ST-491, October 1994.  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ST491 

Ibid. D.  Plumeria alba (White Frangipani).  Gainesville :  UF/IFAS Extension Service Southern Trees Fact Sheet ST-490,  October 1994.   http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st490 

Koeser, A.K. Hasing, G., and McLean, D. Plumeria: Propagation from Cuttings [ENH-1228].  Gainesville, UF/IFAS Extension Service, October 2013. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep489

McAvoy, Gene.   Frangipani - Well Known Exotic Tropical.  LaBelle: UF/IFAS Hendry County Extension Service Horticulture News, December 2001. http://hendry.ifas.ufl.edu/HCHortNews_Frangipani.htm

Nelson, Scot.  Plumeria Rust. Manoa: University of Hawai'i Cooperative Extension Service (PD-61) January, 2009. http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/pd-61.pdf

Vannoorbeeck, Luc.  Grafting Plumerias (PowerPoint presentation, Miami Master Gardeners) 2010.  [Ask me for a copy!]

Wichman, T.  Plumeria  Gainesville: Gardening in a Minute [webpage] 2013.  http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/giam/plants_and_grasses/flowering_plants/plumeria.html

 Plumeria can be rooted from cuttings, grafted (left)  or grown from seed (right). Photos by L.Vannoorbeeck.

  Society Information:

Virtual International Plumeria Society   http://www.plumeria.org/ 

Commercial websites on Plumeria are numerous.  Point your web browser to your favorite search engine and look for Plumeria or Frangipani.

Amateur websites showing the diversity of these plants are also numerous.  Here is one of my favorites from Houston Texas.

Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin.  Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS / University of Florida.  Dr. Nick Place, Dean for Extension.  Last update: 11/13/2014.  This page is maintained by  Dan Culbert  

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