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Growing Frangipani in Pots: Australian Gardening Guide

Frangipanis are iconic trees in the warmer coastal areas of Australia. Its tropical appearance and stunning, fragrant flowers make it an Aussie favourite. These beautiful trees are a common sight, especially in Sydney gardens. But have you ever wondered whether it is possible to grow frangipani in container pots? 

The good news is that frangipani can do well as potted plants. They look great and grow well in containers. They are hassle-free, need little work, and respond well to pruning so you can maintain their shape and size. 

If you are interested in learning how to grow and care for frangipani in pots, here is everything you need to know.

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What is a Frangipani plant? 

Frangipani in pots Australian Gardening Guide

Source: Coast Store

Also sometimes known as Plumeria, frangipanis are famous for their beautiful flower blossoms and unmistakable fragrance. Frangipani are small, deciduous trees that produce waxy flowers.

These flowers appear in clusters at the end of the branches and are typically white, with a yellow centre. Flowers can also be pink through to a deep crimson colour. 

They are frost-susceptible trees, suitable for warm-temperate and tropical climates. There are also some Australian native frangipani varieties.

Can You Plant Frangipanis Pots? 

Do frangipanis grow well in pots? Absolutely! Frangipani can thrive in container pots that are positioned well, are the right size and offer good drainage. If you care for and water the frangipani correctly, you’ll have a stunning, flowering, potted tree that will give you years of pleasure. 

Not only do frangipani in pots grow well but they can also look fantastic on a balcony, in a courtyard or next to the pool. They make beautiful ornamental plants given their reliable and lengthy flowering period. 

If you live in cooler areas of Australia, growing frangipanis in pots give you the flexibility to move the plant to a more protected area of your home if you’re expecting colder conditions or frost.

Should I Use a Dwarf Frangipani Variety for Pots?

As the name suggests these are smaller varieties of frangipani. Dwarf frangipanis normally won’t get higher than 2m at maturity. There are a growing number of dwarf varieties available in Australia. 

Although often recommended for those worried about space or looking to plant in pots, buying dwarf varieties isn’t necessary. They are typically more expensive. ‘Normal’ frangipani plants grow slowly and are easy to keep to size by pruning.

The plants respond well to being cut back and you’ll get more colour choices if you don’t opt for a dwarf variety. 

Growing Frangipani in Pots

Frangipanis can thrive in pots for years and make stunning container plants. You will need to plant the tree in a wide, solid container. This will help provide a stable platform for the frangipani as they tend to get very top-heavy as their crown develops.

Ensure you have a container over 50cm wide and deep. Terracotta pots are ideal as they are heavy and porous, which helps with stability and drainage. 

Frangipani trees like well-drained soil, so don’t put a saucer under the pot and consider positioning the container on pot feet or some bricks, so water can drain freely. As they grow, frangipanis will require repotting into larger containers.

The other alternative is to give the plant a good pruning, as they can be cut back by up to a third during winter. They grow relatively slowly, only about 20 cm per year, so don’t be worried about the need to re-pot regularly. 

Growing Frangipani in pots

Where to Position Potted Frangipani?

Frangipanis are tropical plants, and they prefer full sun, well-drained soil and a frost-free climate. Frangipanis love the sun! They will tolerate partial shade but do best in full sun. Positioning your container in a sunny spot is a key ingredient of success when growing frangipanis.

You’ll also need to protect your potted frangipani from the wind. A great place to put the container pot or planter is against a sunny wall which can not only provide shelter from strong winds, but some reflected heat and sun in winter. 

For those living in cooler parts of Australia, you will want to ensure your potted frangipani is positioned in a north-facing area of your garden or balcony. 

Best Potting Mix for Frangipani

Frangipanis like well-draining, sandy soil. Avoid using clay soils. Free draining mix is essential so you will need a good quality potting mix or soil with lots of compost and gypsum to improve water and air flow. 

You should avoid getting a potting mix with wetting agents or water crystals as the trees like dry soil. Just look for a quick draining medium without a long list of additives. 

Caring for Frangipani in Pots

Frangipanis are fairly low maintenance plants, especially when established. It can be helpful to feed the plant with a small amount of organic fertiliser during spring and summer, while the plant is growing. Slow, controlled release pelletised fertiliser can work well.

Mulching the pot can also help but avoid putting any too close to the trunk to prevent root rot. Use organic mulch like bark chips, sugarcane or pea straw.

Watering Potted Frangipani

Frangipani likes well-draining, dry soil. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make with potted frangipani is to overwater them. During dry, hot summers you will want to water your potted frangipani regularly until it is established.

Just see if the soil feels dry to touch and make sure to let them dry out between watering. Never saturated the soil. When established, generally after a season, rainfall is probably sufficient, and your potted frangipani will require little or no extra watering.

You should avoid watering potted frangipani during the winter when the plant is dormant. 

Potted Frangipani Diseases

The most common disease impacting frangipanis is rust. It isn’t a major issue and isn’t fatal for the plant. Frangipani rust starts as yellow spots on the leaf undersides and eventually spores into dust on the foliage below.

Frangipani rust normally occurs in late summer and autumn. Spraying can help but won’t eliminate the problem. The best way to address rust is simply to remove and dispose of the infected leaves. Don’t put these leaves in the compost. 

Frangipani can also be prone to fungal decay or trunk, root, branch and tip rot. This can be the result of wet, cool weather but you can reduce the risk by not watering in winter. Thinning out the frangipani will also let more light and air in reducing the chance of root rot. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Frangipani in Pots

Can You Grow Potted Frangipani Indoors?

The short answer is that it’s difficult to grow frangipani indoors and you’ll need to try and emulate their natural habitat outside in the garden. The most important thing is to ensure your potted frangipani gets enough direct light. 

Ideally, you will need to place the frangipani next to a sunny window or sliding door where it will get at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day. You might even have to move the plant around the house. The other thing to do is keep the house and your plant warm and appropriately watered.

Frankly, especially if you live in a warmer coastal area of Australia, it’s just easier to grow them outside.  

When Does Frangipani in a Pot Flower?

Bloomming Frangipani in a Pot

The good news is, that, unlike some other flowering trees which only bloom for a short period, frangipani flowers for months at a time. Frangipanis generally flower in the warmer months.

In Australia, you’ll see potted frangipani flowers from November through to around April. The timing will vary by region.

Wrapping Up Our Guide to Growing Frangipani in Pots

Yes, you can successfully grow frangipani in a pot. They are rewarding plants to grow in containers, especially in summer when flowering. They thrive with little maintenance and make the ideal potted tree for gardeners in warmer climates. 

You should be able to plant frangipanis in pots with little problems, provided they get lots of full sun and the right amount of watering. Get in touch if you have any questions about how to grow frangipani in pots.

Last Updated on January 20, 2024

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About the author 

Gary Clarke

Hi, I'm Gary Clarke, gardening enthusiast and former landscaper. I have had privilege of sharing my gardening knowledge at Aussie Green Thumb since early 2020.

I have a passion for using native Australian plants in Aussie gardens and I always try to promote growing fruit trees and vegetable gardens whenever possible.

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  1. Good morning,

    I have a relatively small frangipani in a pot on my balcony.

    I've recently noticed the leaves are falling and new ones are not growing back like it used to.

    I've had it for about 8 – 10 months now. Gets plenty of sun. Tried to not overwater – limited to about once a week and a bit more on hotter days when the soil feels really dry.

    Any tips?

    Thanks

  2. Hi Rajiv,

    It could be a number of causes, but it does sound like some sort of root problem. Either rot or heat stress.

    Heat stress can cause similar problems to rot (falling leaves caused by the roots being unable to take up sufficient nutrients) but it sounds like you’re caring for it well, and watering properly. Because it’s on a balcony, the air can pass and draw moisture out more effectively, so even though the soil might not be completely dry, it could be too fast draining.

    Before you try the next tip, check the root ball isn’t rotting. If it’s got ANY black bits, mushy sections, or an off-putting smell, you’ll need to cut them out instead. If its root rot, ignore this next bit completely.

    If there are no signs of root rot, try moving it right into the corner of the balcony closest to the house and protect it from wind as much as possible. Shake off some of the soil around the roots and then place it back in the same pot with some fresh compost, and an addition of sphagnum moss or bark chips to retain moisture.

    Any sort of moisture retentive material will help it fight off drying winds from the balcony.

    And finally, have you checked for pests? Mealybugs, shield bugs and thrips are particularly problematic for frangipani, and love to suck away at the base of leaves. It’s worth checking that there’s nothing nasty lurking beneath the leaves, or any white bugs along younger stems that could also be causing it.

    Best regards,

    Gary Clarke

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