The frangipani flowers were lovely last summer but the plants died back to the roots with the freeze last winter. Only one of the three plants that I started last year grew and flowered again this year. The pink with yellow-center flowers are beautiful and fragrant making the surviving plant extra special.
I bought 4 branches of frangipani (Plumeria) and planted them last April. I was told to put the branches in the ground and to leave them to nature. I put them in the ground as instructed without fertilizer, peat moss, or compost. I admit I watered them regularly because there has been so little rain. Three of them have produced leaves and the fourth looks like it will in a few days. I don’t expect to see flowers for a year, but it is still exciting to watch the development.
All 4 were planted where they get full sun. From what I’ve read, I probably should have started them in a shadier area and then moved them to full sun once they had leaves but they seem to be doing Ok where they are.
Apparently the Spanish distributed the trees around the world from where it originated in Mexico. Due to the ease of propagation, it is no wonder the frangipani became regarded as “a symbol of immortality because of its capacity to produce flowers from stems severed from the parent tree“. The Spanish often planted them around churches and cemeteries which is where I first saw them in Malaysia many years ago. What fun to have so much history growing in my yard.
In my previous post, Frangipani Culture, I mentioned that in Malaysia the trees are sometimes associated with ghosts and demons. I have heard children in Malaysia warned to keep away from the frangipani because of the ghosts. In Indonesia and the Philippines, the frangipani is considered appropriate for cemeteries but not gardens. How could this beautiful flower with its sweet aroma have such a negative imagery? I always thought the reputation was due to how the flowers are pollinated. The sweet smelling flowers are not surrounded by the buzzing of bees but rather are pollinated by silent, dark moths. According to the Plumeria Society of America, they might be pollinated by thrips also. Thrips are tiny insects only a few millimeters long so most people haven’t ever seen them although they are fairly common. (view diagram of a thrip.) My theory is that the silent pollination routine rather than the loud, bee-buzzing pollination method results in the ghost stories. Luckily for us, the beauty of the tree has attracted enough horticulture enthusiasts, that the tree has been distributed around the world.
Interesting Plumeria links
A tree that harbors ghosts? I first saw a Frangipani tree (Plumeria spp.) in Malaysia, and loved the beauty and fragrance of the flowers in spite of its reputation for ghosts and demons. As you would expect from such a beautiful flower, it has a more romantic reputation in other countries and is often used to create flower leis.
There is a frangipani in the garden behind ours here in Tampa that was blooming and beautiful when we moved in last July. Our neighbor said that if a branch of the tree breaks off, dries, and is planted that it will sprout into a tree. I was delighted to find that it grew in Florida and hoped to eventually have one in our yard.
When we were at a festival 2 weeks ago, we saw a man selling the dried branches. He had a large crowd around his booth and was selling them quickly. We bought 4, one of each color that he had – white, yellow, pink and (I think) red or orange. I followed his directions, which included putting the branch in the ground, watering it and leaving it. As I put one in the ground, a little of the white latex oozed out, but that is typical of members of the Apocyannaceae family. It has been hot and dry since I planted them so I have lightly watered each daily since then.
I have a white fence that is desperate for color. The frangipani are planted near it with the loropetalum between. I know it will be a year before we see the results, but, like everything else starting in the garden, we are willing to wait.
For additional information about Plumeria spp view Floridata.