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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31 thoughts on “Frangipani trees from seed

  1. I’m in Texas & having a hard time getting an answer to a question about a seedling I’ve grown that is 2 yrs. old. Actually, I have 2 from the same lot, but totally different plants. The large one is over 4 ft. tall with huge, more oval shaped, dark green leaves. It has been putting on new branches above the leaves. Big branches, just like those that form after an inflo or false inflo. So far there are five, but there are at least 5 more forming. It has gotten so top-heavy, I had to re-pot it again. Is this a normal occurrence, or odd. Some say the branches usually don’t stay on the plant, but these are thriving.
    The 2nd plant is half the size of this one with normal growth & spear-shaped leaves. Both were supposed to to be orange flowers, but no clue what they actually are.

    Hi Carol, when you grow frangipani from a cutting, you have an exact replica of the tree the cutting was taken from. However, when you grow plants from seed, the result is unpredictable as it depends on which traits from the male and female parent become dominant. The exciting part of growing shrubs and trees from seed is that you may produce an entirely new variety.
    This website: demonstrates the variety of leaf formations on different species of frangipanis and it is likely your plants have come from two different species. Hope this helps, – Lyn

  2. I have grown 3 plants from seeds, living in Tasmania I doubt whether I will be able to plant them outside, will they survive inside for the rest of their life and would they produce flowers. Cheers Lee
    I have no idea, Lee. If the plants were grown from seed. Was the seed local, or was it from a warmer climate, in which case you have no idea if seeds were pollinated by a variety that needs more tropical conditions. Sorry, can’t help. Maybe someone who has successfully grown Frangipanis in Tasmania can help Lee.

  3. I have been checking out the internet to try to get some guidance to graft onto my 2 existing trees, but I also wonder if I get some new cuttings how long I need to wait before I can safely/successfully graft onto them. Can it be done before planting a new cutting, or do I wait until after it has developed roots, or should it be allowed to get established before attempting grafting? I don’t want to butcher new cuttings by attempting to do too much too soon, but at my age (76 years) I don’t want to waste any time either. A bit of guidance would be much appreciated. Is there a minimum or maximum length recommended for the piece to be grafted onto the main plant? Do the grafted pieces have to be single (reasonably straight) pieces, or can y-shaped pieces also be successful? Can you graft pieces that are flowering (after removing the flowers)? How long do you have to wait for the grafted pieces to start flowering? How can you tell if the graft has taken successfully? Do you leave the grafting tape on the plant to come away itself in time, or do you need to remove it manually? There seems to be conflicting advice on this point on the internet.

    Hi Trevor, There is a video on youtube that shows you how to graft frangipanis. Grafting frangipanis It does advise though, that you graft onto a mature branch rather than a cutting or new plant.

  4. I planted around 100 frangipani seeds which I bought off eBay between 8 and 10 years ago. (I went a bit mad buying them over three years). Almost all of them are now around 2 meters tall, but hardly any of them have flowered. They are still in pots, and get the occasional feed with Seasol and Power Feed. What more should I be doing to get them to flower?

    If the fertilisers have seaweed added, they should be getting enough potassium, Christine. Potassium is needed to encourage flowering and fruiting. However, it is not uncommon for frangipani cuttings to take a couple of years to flower, but plants grown from seed are unpredictable, as they are not an exact copy of the plant they came from. The fun of growing them from seed is that you may produce a new colour combination. You could try giving them a drink of seaweed extract tea at weak black tea strength.

  5. Graham Williams from March 13 2018
    My plants are in 20mm pots for the last 18 months and doing very well, they are 300 to 450 mm high and 20 to 25 mm stems now. Coming into spring when should I start giving fertiliser (I have been using Seasol) which they seem to thrive on. And the same old question what chance do you give me for some flowers this year 4th season. Impatient me –
    Graham Williams

    Graham, in theory, it takes 3 years for seedling frangipanis to produce a flower, or 2 years for a new branch to flower.
    Although we know that phosphorus is necessary for root growth, it also hastens maturity (encouraging flowering). However, phosphorus is dependent on a suitable pH (6.5–6.8) to be available to plants, and organic forms of phosphorus are more easily absorbed. Seasol is not particularly high in phosphorus compared to some other fertilisers. If you are anxious to get some flowers, place 4 tablespoons of poultry-based complete fertiliser into a 2 litre container with a lid. Fill the container with luke warm water, replace the lid, and shake the container. Leave it at room temperature for 2 days. Dilute to weak black tea strength and apply to your plants.

  6. Hello. I live in Darwin and have a Frangipani tree that is producing loads of seeds this season. They keep popping up everywhere. I have counted about 12 so far. I am curious to know if this is normal and I am also very excited as I can’t wait to see what they produce. The tree has such wonderful coloured flowers. Everyone loves them.
    Lucky you, with such a fertile tree. You could end up with an entirely new variety. We would all be interested to see the results. – Lyn

  7. Hello. I have 6 frangipani trees that I started from seeds about a year ago. They are doing beautifully. My question is how long will it take them to flower? I live in Florida. The first time I got 1 seed pod from my bigger tree and last year I got 14 pods!!
    Congratulations, Cissy, on growing your own frangipanis from seed. You could find you have created a completely new variety. Cuttings usually take a couple of years before they produce a flower, but plants grown from seed usually take about 3–5 years before they are large enough to flower, and I imagine it would be a similar period where you live. – Lyn

    1. Reply to Cissy Walker:
      I have a number of cuttings from last year and many have already started to form flower stalks. They have been in the ground less than 9 months, so I’m quite impressed to see them staring to produce flowers already. The cuttings are from a few different varieties, so I’m excited to see the different colours.

      Congratulations Kim, your frangipanis must be enjoying the best conditions. Well done. – Lyn

  8. Hi there I have had good success with seeds I live in Adelaide SA. I have plants in their 2nd year, they are still in the planter box style pots that I struck them in 500x125x120 high with 6 to 8 plants in each 5 lots, they are about 80 to160mm tall. I intended to put them in 200mm pots during the winter dormant time. I would love any advice you can give, also when do you think I can expect Any blooms. Graham.
    Hi Graham, it isn’t clear from your comment whether each seedling is in its own compartment or whether some seedlings share a pot. If they share a pot, I would gently hose the mix away from the roots before removing them and planting in the 200mm pots, as their roots are very brittle.
    Make sure the mix in the new pots is very free draining, and it helps to put a layer of gravel in the bottom of each pot to keep drainage holes clear. Sorry, to say that it can take a few years for some to flower, depending on which variety the pollinated seed turns out to be. – Lyn

  9. Hi, I have just collected the seeds from my “Lulu” frangipani…a gorgeous variety…and would like to know is the seed tray kept if full sun for a good portion of the day or in a filtered atmosphere?
    I am appreciative of any advice coming my way…Sheri

    Sheri, keep them in a warm, sheltered position until they are showing good, strong growth. As they are not in full sun they won’t use up water as quickly, so do not over-water them.

  10. Hi there. I have a potted frangipani that has produced a seed pod. It appeared about 3 months ago. My question is the plant needs to be taken out of the pot as it has outgrown it. I wish to transplant to my garden. It has just started sprouting leaves and I wanted to know if transplanting now will be harmful. Some advise would be appreciated. Thanks Kim
    It is a dark pink flowering frangipani.

    Kim, you are fortunate to be able to get a deep pink frangipani to flower south of Sydney as they need more warmth than the more common varieties, and they usually come out of dormancy later than the others. Now would be a good time to transplant it. It will help if you can carefully cut away the pot rather than pulling it out of the pot as you are less likely to snap off the brittle roots. The more roots you can retain, the better chance your tree will have to survive the transplanting. Make sure you transplant into well-drained soil. Fill the hole with water before planting and see how long the water takes to drain away. If it takes longer than an hour, you will need to plant the tree on a mound. I wouldn’t worry too much about the seed pod. One of my deep pink frangipanis has produced a pod and they take ages to ripen, so yours is probably in the early stages of development.

  11. Hi can you pick green frangipani seed pods and will they then ripen off the tree as might be getting some free. Cheers Warren
    Not that I know of, Warren. The general consensus is that they had to mature on the tree or they won’t germinate. It is best to tie an old stocking around the green pods, allowing air to circulate and room for the pods to open. Allow the pod to dry and the seeds to fully mature on the tree. The reason a stocking is used is because frangipani produce winged seed and the seed spreads far and wide when the pods open. – Lyn

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  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. 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 🙂

  17. 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 🙂

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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!

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

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