Frangipani – By Ian lacey
Ian gave an interesting talk on their origins in Central and South America and the spread of Frangipani across the world possibly by Catholic missionaries.
There are 8 separate species of the Plumeria family and several hundred named varieties. They grow well as far south as Sydney but the most colourful varieties do better in the tropics and many do quite well in the Northern Rivers.
An unusual feature of the Frangipani flower is that it does not contain nectar but tricks insects (usually moths) into pollinating it with its sweet smell which is most noticeable in the evening.
Ian showed how Frangipani can be propagated from quite large cuttings but warned that the cuttings have to be dried out for a couple of weeks and can suffer from rot if they get too damp. Young Frangipani need to be well staked for a couple of years until their root system develops and may need to be pruned if they get top heavy to prevent damage in storms. Older Frangipani can be pruned as well (preferably in winter while dormant) to improve shape, rejuvenate and recover after storm damage.
Frangipani can suffer from a fungal rust disease. There is not much that can be done about it and, as it tends to affect the plant late it the season, you can let the leaves drop and gather up the diseased leaves and dispose of them. They can also suffer from a "black tip" type of die-back which can be treated by cutting back affected branches.
The evergreen or hammerhead Frangipani (Plumeria Pudica) is not affected by rust and seems to bloom reliably in this area. Some other Frangipani varieties have bloomed relatively poorly this year.