FRANGI­PANI FAN

GET A TASTE OF THE TROP­ICS WITH THIS HARDY SPECIES KNOWN FOR ITS HEADY FRA­GRANCE AND ICONIC FLOW­ERS

The Observer - - WEEKEND GARDEN - GREEN THUMB WORDS: MA­REE CUR­RAN Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­ron.com.au

There is prob­a­bly no flower that sym­bol­ises the trop­ics bet­ter than the plume­ria, com­monly known as the frangi­pani.

The species we are most fa­mil­iar with is plume­ria rubra. They are usu­ally seen in white, yel­low and pink, with mul­ti­coloured forms also very com­mon. Deep red ones are be­com­ing eas­ier to get, as is the lovely white semi-dou­ble form Bali Whirl.

Frangi­pa­nis are a re­ally use­ful small tree. They are ter­rific in pots as they grow quite slowly. They are tol­er­ant of drought and salt winds and fill the evening air with their heady fra­grance through­out sum­mer. They are de­cid­u­ous, drop­ping all their leaves in win­ter to re-grow in spring. Some peo­ple don’t like the bare branches, but I think a

well-shaped spec­i­men is lovely even dur­ing win­ter when they look quite sculp­tural.

Some other, less com­mon forms are now be­com­ing more widely avail­able. Plume­ria ob­tusa, also called Sin­ga­pore White, has glossy, deep green leaves with a more rounded tip, and large, in­tensely fra­grant white flow­ers. In our cli­mate, it will re­tain most of the leaves through­out the year if planted in a re­ally warm po­si­tion.

All frangi­pa­nis pre­fer a sunny, well-drained po­si­tion. Keep them drier in win­ter when they are dor­mant and feed with a good qual­ity bal­anced fer­tiliser a cou­ple of times dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son.

Not much both­ers th­ese beau­ti­ful trop­i­cal plants other than frangi­pani rust, which causes un­sightly yel­low pus­tules to form on the un­der­sides of the leaves. The leaves may then fall pre­ma­turely, and, al­though it won’t kill a ma­ture tree, it can weaken young plants.

If you are de­ter­mined to keep your trees rust-free, then you need to dili­gently re­move all fallen leaves and spray the un­der­sides of the leaves with a fungi­cide ev­ery few weeks. Use a hor­ti­cul­tural oil to help the fungi­cide ad­here to the leaves.

Re­mem­ber that the spores are car­ried on the wind, so it’s very dif­fi­cult to keep the rust at bay if there are other in­fected trees in the neigh­bour­hood.

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