Plumeria: care and varieties

Plumeria: care and varieties


Basically only the species of plumeria known as frangipani play a role in the local houseplant culture. The genus, however, includes some other species (around 20) that are generally native to the Neotropics, i.e. in Central and South American, tropical to subtropical regions from the southern USA to the southern Andes. The distribution area of ​​individual species also extends to the West Indies.

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The species that are relevant to us in Central Europe, the fragrant or the red frangipani, are native to the tropical areas from southern Florida via Mexico to Puerto Rico. Their original habitat is a warm and humid rainforest climate, which is why they can only be kept in this country in year-round indoor or greenhouse culture.

The Austrians did the same in the Imperial Gardens of Vienna at the end of the 18th century. The plant has long been valued as an ornamental and scented plant in our latitudes.

Origin at a glance:

  • Different types of Plumeria are distributed throughout the Neotropic (southern USA to southern Andes)
  • For the local gardening culture only the Frangipani species from the tropical region of Central America are relevant
  • Can only be kept here in year-round room culture


The Frangipani grows as a large shrub with a stately, spreading habit. Other plumeria species also develop into large, thick-stemmed trees. The Frangipani species can reach about 7 meters in height and 5 meters in width in their home range. In this country in the room culture is usually over after a maximum of 3 meters.

The richly branched branches have a fleshy, succulent consistency about 2 to 3 centimeters thick. All parts of the plant contain a toxic latex.

Growth characteristics in brief:

  • Frangipani cultivated in this country develop a bush-like, spreading habit
  • At the natural site up to 7 m high and up to 5 m wide, here a maximum of 3 m high
  • Other species of plumeria grow as large trees
  • Richly branched shrubbery with fleshy branches
  • Contains toxic latex


The leaves of the Frangipani attach alternately and usually in clusters to the shoots. They have an elliptical to lanceolate shape and reach a length of 20 to 40 centimeters with a maximum width of 15 centimeters. Their color is a deep dark green. The pronounced, neat veins and the distinctive central rib give the leaves a stringent appearance.

Blade properties in brief:

  • Set alternately and accumulate at the end of the shoot
  • Elongated, elliptical to obscure lanceolate shape
  • Length 20 to 40 cm, width up to 15 cm
  • Rich, dark green color
  • Distinctive veins


The flowers of the frangipani have been a popular raw material for perfumery for a long time. The fragrant Frangipani contains fragrances that are characterized by a creamy delicacy, a gardenia-like flowery and a slightly fruity, peach-like nuance. The Frangipani-Odeur is used in scented waters especially in combination with other exotic scents such as coconut.

But the visual appearance of the frangipani flowers is also extremely attractive. The sharply contoured shape of its 5 pointed, bowl-like petals and their waxy consistency give them a very elegant, exotic character. The splendid coloring also makes the flower very decorative: there are varieties in bright pink to red or yellow or yellow and creamy white variants.

The petals are fused together like a funnel, so that the flowers appear like a noble calyx.

Overview of flower properties:

  • Exceptionally strong, creamy-floral-fruity fragrance
  • Five bowl-shaped, waxy petals, fused together like a funnel
  • Magnificent color variations from rose red to red or yellow and white


The Frangipani shows its beautiful flowers throughout the summer, between June and September.


The flowers each form two follicles that contain many seeds.

Which location is suitable?

In the chapter on location we refer again to the most cultivated Frangipani species in this country, which come from tropical regions. Of course, its original habitat also defines the environmental requirements that it needs: like all tropical plants, it needs warmth, brightness and high humidity all year round. It thrives best in a room or greenhouse at around 20 ° C.

Unlike other indoor plants from the tropics, the Frangipani has nothing against direct sunlight. On the contrary, she is a true sun worshiper and wants 6 hours of sun a day.

You still need to maintain the highest possible humidity.

In winter, the Frangipani is forced to take a break due to the dwindling supply of light. It can then be a little cooler, but the temperature should not fall below 12 ° C.

What soil does the plant need?

As a substrate, the Frangipani needs a moderately nutrient-rich soil with a good drainage layer in the form of sand or expanded clay. (€ 17.50 at Amazon *) Because it is quite sensitive to waterlogging. The pH value should be in the rather high range.

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Watering plumeria

You should be relatively careful when watering. The Frangipani is quite thirsty and needs a lot of water, especially in summer. However, as already mentioned, it is sensitive to waterlogging. So always make sure that the substrate is well dried before every watering and that the root ball is never permanently in the water. A very regular casting practice is necessary here - nothing for people who are less often at home.

During hibernation, however, you should water significantly less so that the plant sprouts properly in spring and forms buds.

Watering rules in brief:

  • Water vigorously, especially in summer, but in well-dosed sections
  • Avoid waterlogging at all costs
  • Significantly reduce watering in winter

Fertilize plumeria properly

According to the average nutrient requirement, the Frangipani can be regularly supplied with additional food throughout the main vegetation phase. A simple, universal liquid fertilizer is suitable for this, which you add to the irrigation water every 2 weeks. However, the dose should be half concentrated at best.

Cut plumeria properly

Depending on how much space you want to give the Frangipani or how much space you can make available, it can either be cultivated freely growing or restrained in shape and size. However, it naturally forms a very shapely, albeit protruding crown - so if you have space, you should give it space. The interfaces also provide a breeding ground for fungi to colonize.

Otherwise you can easily prune it regularly, preferably in early spring. Longer, disturbing shoots can easily be shortened and brought into the desired shape. The plant then branches again immediately at the interfaces.

Cutting rules in brief:

  • Frangipani can be cut, but does not have to be
  • Because of the naturally beautifully growing crown, only cut if there is a real lack of space
  • Otherwise trimming of the shoots is possible without any problems


The inevitable loss of light in autumn requires the frangipani culture in our latitudes to hibernate. This means that all other maintenance measures must also be shut down in parallel to the reduced amount of light. A slightly cooler ambient temperature makes sense, but it must not fall below about 12 ° C. To do this, you can put them in a greenhouse that is not too heated. What is available in terms of light should not be withheld from the Frangipani, even in the winter months. A glazed roof is therefore advisable.

You also reduce the watering quite a lot. Only give enough water so that the root ball never dries out completely.

Don't be alarmed: The plumeria loses its leaves during the winter break. This is normal in view of the lack of light and the resulting generally shutdown vegetation. As soon as it gets lighter again in spring, the plant sprouts freshly without further ado.

Propagate plumeria

The Frangipani is best propagated by cuttings or by sowing seeds.


With this method, cut off a 20 cm long shoot from the upper crown of the bush, which if possible has not yet attached any leaves. In order to stop the escaping milk juice flow, it is advisable to dry or burn the interface. You put the cutting in a planter with potting soil and a good proportion of sand. The cuttings take root best if the ambient temperature is warm, around 25 ° C, and if the humidity is constant. However, you should not pull it under foil.

You can also try, after the cutting edge of the cutting has dried well, to let it take root in the water glass.

Seed cultivation

You can also grow a new frangipani from seeds you have collected yourself or bought. However, there is no guarantee that you will receive a daughter plant of the same variety and color. The seeds are germinated in potting soil at a soil temperature of 20 to 25 ° C and with constant moisture. With a size of 5-10 centimeters, the young plants can be repotted and further cultivated in a species-appropriate manner.


Fortunately, the Frangipani only rarely gets illnesses - mistakes in care that have to do with the water supply can affect her. Above all, this includes waterlogging, which can lead to root rot, and insufficient humidity. The latter attracts the usual drought-loving parasites such as spider mites and mealybugs.


Spider mites and mealybugs are the most common pests that afflict moisture-loving tropical plants in heated rooms. It is not easy to maintain adequate humidity in living spaces. Cultivation in the winter garden is therefore not only recommended for the Frangipani for reasons of light.

Spider mites

You can easily recognize these pests by the fine webs that they pull around the leaf axils and the branches of their host plants. Especially if they are red or yellowish in color, you can see the mites with the naked eye.

Spider mites are very easy to control by attacking them with water: first by wiping them with a damp cloth and then thoroughly spraying the plant with the disperser and wrapping it under foil. In this humid, air-poor climate, the mites die within a week.


Mealybugs also reveal themselves through a clearly visible secretion on the host plant: when sucking on the leaves, they secrete woolly balls, from which they get their name. You should also first remove mealybugs mechanically by wiping them off with a wet cloth. Then apply a spray treatment with a mixture of water, alcohol and curd soap. (Quantity ratio: 1l - 15ml - 15ml)

Is plumeria poisonous?

As a member of the dog poison family, the Frangipani and all other Plumeria species are poisonous - they contain a milky sap with toxic saponins in the branches and leaves. Therefore, it is not necessarily suitable for households with small children and curious pets. It is also best to put on gloves when cutting the plumeria.


Within the Frangipani species, especially the Red Frangipani, some different cultivars are offered in the plant trade, which differ from each other mainly in the flower colors. Sometimes also a little in growth.

Plumeria rubra Divine

This variety of Red Frangipani impresses with its particularly pretty and numerous flowers. The waxy, artful structures appear in a wonderfully exotic play of colors in the summer months: their heart is presented in warm yellow-orange, which turns into clear white on the outside and finally into fresh pink at the petal edges. The scent of the P. r. Divine is beguilingly flowery and fruity.

In terms of growth, the variety is quite compact due to its intensive branching and is therefore also suitable for exotic plant fans who have less space available. As a location, it should be granted a sunny place, ideal is a winter garden in which there is also good humidity.

Plumeria rubra Gina

In summer, the flowers of this variety stand out from the mid-green foliage in a scarlet pink with pinkish-red and yellowish-white edges. Their somewhat more homogeneous coloring and the somewhat plate-shaped opening make them appear somewhat more flat than the flowers of P. r. Divine. Their scent is also very intense.

In terms of growth, it is quite broad, but still with compact, richly branched shrubbery. It becomes about 2-3 m high.

Plumeria rubra Inca gold

The name of the variety of this variant already suggests its flower color: In fact, from June onwards they shine in a rich golden yellow with delicate light yellow edges and exude a warm, southern flair. Its scent is sweet and slightly spicy. In a sunny, warm location, the P. r. Inca Gold is also extremely willing to flower.

Its growth is bushy and richly branched, it reaches 2.50 m in height.

Plumeria rubra Dulcemia

If you are a fan of strong red tones, we recommend this variant: The more sun it gets, the variety blooms in intense red. When there is less light, the flower color remains paler, more in the pink to pastel pink area. Their scent is fruity.

The P. r. Dulcemia grows bushy and reaches a height of about 2.50 meters.