Frangipani trees from seed

I often receive e-mails with questions about growing frangipani trees, and some readers may like to try growing them from seed. Paula Pugh Schipp of the Frangipani Society of Australia says that frangipani trees grown from seed grow much faster than those grown from cuttings because the root system starts to form when the seed germinates. Another advantage of propagating these lovely (Plumeria) trees from seed is that trees grown from cuttings will always be the same as the parent tree, but trees grown from seed are, like children, not usually exact duplicates of their parents. You may grow a tree with flowers with an entirely different colour combination if you have a variety of frangipani trees in your area.

Frangipani flowers do not always produce seed as the self-pollinating flowers do not always release their pollen. You can try hand-pollinating flowers with a piece of thick fishing line. Place the end of the line deep into the flower and wriggle it very gently to release the pollen. You have to be gentle as it is easy to knock the flower from its stem.

Seeds develop within a pod, often a double pod in a ‘T ‘ shape, which looks rather like two thin 17 cm zucchini in the early stages – changing over time to brown/black when mature (see photo, lower left). Pods can take up to 8 months to mature depending on the local microclimate.

When the seeds are mature, the pods become brittle and begin to split open revealing up to 60 seeds in each pod. Collecting the seed takes a bit of good timing because each of the seeds has a small ‘wing’ attached and, when the pod completely opens, the seeds can be spread far and wide on the breeze (see photo, below right). If the pod is in a position where you can easily observe its development, when the pod is just beginning to split, place a large basin under the pod structure and carefully cut the adjoining stem from the tree. If the pod is high in the tree and hidden by foliage, then when the pod starts to change colour, make a bag from nylon netting large enough to hold the pod structure with some room to spare. The will prevent the seeds from blowing away when the pod opens.

 

 

 

 

If you would like to try growing frangipani from seed, for best results sow them soon after they are collected.

This excellent Frangipani website provides a detailed guide to propagating frangipani, including an interesting method of germinating seed in paper towels: Frangipani Society of Australia

One of our readers, Sam, has shared some photos of his very successful efforts.
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18 thoughts on “Frangipani trees from seed

  1. G’day guys, just chasing some quick advice on frangipani seedlings. I have no problems getting them to germinate and grow to about 10 cm, but then they start to wilt. Can’t find too much information around on this stage of development. Not sure whether I should be separating them, potting them up, watering, fertilising or…?!? Any help would be appreciated!

  2. Hi Craig, It sounds as though you may have a problem known as ‘damping-off’. Several fungi in the growing mix are said to cause this problem in seedlings, and these become active when seedlings are kept too damp and are sown too closely together. Frangipani need well-drained soil, and are prone to rotting when soil or growing medium is too rich. They need plenty of propagation sand in the growing mix. I would definitely separate them before they are 10 cm high, by gently washing the growing mix from the seedlings (their roots are very brittle), and potting them in a free-draining mix individually into 8-10 cm pots, and re-potting as soon as roots start to appear at the holes in the base of the pots. They do not need a lot of fertiliser, a regular light application of organic liquid fertiliser (when they look as though they need a boost to keep moving) is sufficient.
    A drink of very weak chamomile tea at seed sowing and after germination is the way organic growers avoid this problem, as chemical fungicides also kill off the beneficial fungi in organic soils.
    Make a cup of chamomile tea (with organic tea bag) and allow it to steep for 15 minutes. Then dilute it with 1.5 litres of cold water and use this to dampen growing mix after sowing seed.

  3. Is there a way to force plumeria to develop seed pods? I’ve been growing plumeria many years and have yet to have any produce seed pods.
    Hi Dale, this website explains several methods of pollinating frangipani (about halfway down the page, after grafting methods). – Lyn

  4. Hi, I found your website when looking for information on growing frangipani from seed. I didn’t know seeds needed to be planted quickly and as I have purchased seeds off Ebay about 6 weeks ago I wonder if they will still germinate. Also could you tell me if growing the seeds in a mix of equal parts Perlite, Vermiculite and Peat moss is a good idea. Information with the seeds suggested using Seed raising mix with river sand. I live in Victoria in a N/E country town on the border of NSW. We have hot, sometimes humid summers but winter can be very cold with some morning frosts so Frangipani are not grown easily here. I currenty have an apricot color plant with three healthy branches about 30cm high and have put in a little hothouse in the hope it will survive the winter (lost one last year due to being cold and wet) and it seems to be doing okay. Can I germinate the seeds indoors then transfer to the hothouse? Thanks for any advice, Marge
    Marge, the fact that you lost a frangipani tree due to cold and wet weather is an important clue. I’ve found that vermiculite and peat moss keep soil quite moist and frangipani need excellent drainage, which is why they have suggested seed-raising mix with river sand. I grow seedlings in finely shredded coconut fibre which is more more environmentally-friendly as peat moss does not come from a renewable source. I mix this 2:1* with well-washed river sand, then mix some perlite through this mix. I dampen the coco-peat with a diluted fish-based fertiliser before mixing. (*Plants that need a moister mix, 3 cocopeat: 1 river sand)
    Yes, you could germinate the seeds indoors and then put them in your hothouse. I would sow some of the seeds in small individual tubes or pots so that there is less disturbance to the roots when potting-up because frangipani roots are very brittle and snap off easily. At the same time, I would do a test germination of some seeds to reassure yourself that the seeds are still viable. Instructions for this can be found here: Seed not germinating? – Lyn

  5. Thanks Lyn, I appreciate your response and information.. I’ll get some coconut fibre and give it a go. I was in Adelaide 3 weeks ago and saw some large frangipanis in flower! Marge

  6. Hi. Tripped over your website while looking for help on seedling care. I’ve somehow managed to germinate 8 of my 10 eBay seeds. First true leaves are just coming up. It was more luck than skill.
    Think with all the advice shown here I might stand a better chance of keeping some of them alive. At least I know what I’m already doing wrong before the plants die in protest. I’ll get them repotted in the correct mix tomorrow, stop watering them so much and protect the babies from the sun.
    Cheers for the advice!

  7. Hello, I wondered if you can offer a bit of advice that I can’t seem to find elsewhere online. I have six plumeria that I grew from seed. They are now varying in height from 18-36″. I want to keep them on the smaller side so that I may easily continue to bring them indoors during winter as I live in Ohio. My question is, none of the six trees have branched, how would I go about pruning them to encourage them doing so? Most everywhere online recommends just cutting the end, however this advice is geared towards trees with multiple branches. If I were to cut the end off would this damage the trees too severely that I risk losing them, or are they hardier than I give them credit for? When would be the best time to prune them? Thanks for your time!

    Hi Heather, I don’t know conditions in Ohio but I do know that you have to wait for a single branch cutting or seedling to decide to produce other branches because if you shorten the stem, it will probably die back. Many frangipani varieties produce branches low to the ground so you may only have to wait a year or two. Otherwise, you may have to resort to growing them from multi-branched cuttings to get the shape you want. – Lyn

  8. i had good luck with growing the seeds from the pot and got 25 good healthly plants so far they look great hope they keep going well never thaugh you can grow tham from seeds

  9. hi, thought I should point out that you are wrong, frangipani seed is most viable when fresh but can remain viable for a few years if stored correctly, in fact Paula Pugh Schipp and I used to plant old seed that still grew after 3 years in storage. I recommend seeds to be planted as soon as possible after being taken from their pods, their viability starts to decrease the older they get but they do remain viable for some time if stored correctly(not in plastic). Also a mix of hydrogen peroxide(3%) at a rate of 1part h2o2 to 3 parts water is good when planting as it kills of the bacteria that causes damping off/rot. Cheers Dennis

    Thank you for clarifying the viability of frangipani seed, Dennis. The information in the post was obtained from various Frangipani commercial sources and I have updated the post with a new link to Paula’s expertise in this area. – Lyn

  10. As for the comment of the need to plant Plumeria seed quickly, I have had some in the fridge for 8 months and I got 80% germination.
    Thanks for that, Ian. – Lyn

  11. Hi i have managed to get some seeds to germinate using the parer towel method, how big do i let them get and put them where? First time growing from seed, surprised it worked as pods had a fungus inside on some of the seeds but my parents sold their house and these are from their rare plants. Thanks Amanda

    Congratulations, Amanda. Seeds normally only contain enough nutrients to produce seed leaves. Gently move each one into a sandy potting mix in 8 or 10 cm pots, in a warm, protected position. Provide them with regular watering (but don’t overdo it) and a light application of complete liquid fertiliser and pot them on until large enough to survive in their permanent position. – Lyn

  12. I managed to collect seeds from my red frangipani in Nov last year(Aust) and wondered if I could get them to strike. I am so excited I have 21 small plants that have survived through their first winter (in an plastic greenhouse) and are now between 10 to 15cm tall and enjoying their first real sunshine. Really looking forward to when they are big enough to get a flower as the tree next to the red one was a yellow frangipani so the flowers could be anything.

    Congratulations Margaret, on your success at raising frangipani from seed. Do you have any photos you can share with us. It will be interesting to watch them develop as most of us have no idea what frangipani seedlings look like. You can e-mail me lyn@aussieorganicgardening.com

  13. Lyn, I have just picked 2 more seedpod branches from my red frangipani and am going to start the process again this year so this time I will photograph each step and hopefully have another round of young plants a year behind the first. I might have started something.
    Thanks, Margaret. I will be posting some of your other photos later this month when I get some time to reduce them. We look forward to see your new project. – Lyn 🙂

  14. I have some seeds from my Darwin Miniture Pink Frangapani and would like to know if the germination methods and growing are the same as for the normal ones.
    I presume so, Rose. Let us know how they grow. – Lyn 🙂

  15. I currently have 5 plumeria plants ranging from 16-33cm in height and was wondering are they bigger enough to put outside in their final position?

    The 33 cm ones should be ok, but I’d leave the shorter ones until they get bigger. – Lyn

  16. How do you know when the seed pod is ready to pick and how long does it take to ripen?
    The post above tells you that it can take up to 8 months to ripen, and what to do when the pod starts to become brittle as it is close to maturity. – Lyn

  17. Just wanted to say I love this page. Iv got so much valuable information from reading all the past messages. Last year I grew from seeds for the first time. I planted 60 and 48 grew so I repotted and they were really thriving until my plastic shade house blew over so I took them to my neighbors shade house with shade cloth and over the winter they got wet feet and rotted. I now only have 12 of them left but I learnt some good lessons!
    This year I planted about 250 seeds because I anticipated to loose a few with some of the seeds being sent from overseas. About 200 took so my hubby is now regretting not building a bigger shade house haha. I will repot them once they have lost their water leaves. Some plants took 8 days to germinate while others took over 20! I half of them in a mix of 50/50 perlite and seed raising mix and the other half in a cactus mix because I was trying to experiment. The ones in the 50/50 mix did better. I live in busselton Western Australia and planted the first lot in march 2015 and the recent ones on December 3rd 2016 and am surprised they did so well. I’ll email you some photos of last years plants and this years seedlings. Cheers, Sam

    Thanks for the photos, Sam. You have done very well. It will be interesting to see if you have some unusual colour combinations when they flower. – P.S. As I can’t add photos to this comment, I’ve added them to the original post.

  18. Hallo – I need assistance with regards to a task (re Frangipani)
    Question 1 – How are the seeds of the Frangipani distributed? (Insects / Babboons Animals etc)
    Question 1 – How many parts does the flower of the Frangipani have?

    Q 1: As it says in the post above, frangipani seeds are spread by wind. You can see in the illustration that each seed has a ‘wing’.
    Q 2: This website: Flower Pictures has a clear diagram of the parts of the frangipani flower, and instructions on how to hand-pollinate them.

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