Some countries use the word “plumeria” while others, including Australia, prefer “frangipani”.
Frangipanis originate from South America. Early ocean travellers considered frangipani plants to be attractive so frangipanis were transported all round the world. Frangipanis grow well and look stunning in warm climates so their numbers have increased rapidly in tropical countries. With their beautiful and wide range of flower colour combinations, pleasant fragrances and suitability to the climate, frangipanis are a common selection for tropical holiday areas. They are so common places like Hawaii and Fiji that many people associate frangipanis with tropical islands more than South America.
Once established, frangipanis can survive flood waters and monsoons but generally speaking, they like hot dry conditions. When gardens are neglected in busy times and during drought frangipanis are especially appreciated when they not only survive but continue to thrive. Many people in Australia have become familiar with frangipanis while growing up with them in the yard or during a honeymoon in the tropics and having a frangipani tree in their own back yard has since become a dream.
There are some fungus and insects which survive better in the tropics but generally speaking, frangipanis grow better, are more resistant to problems and are stronger in warmer climates. The hardiest frangipani species is known as “Plumeria rubra”. (Also known as “frangipani rubra” and written as “P. rubra”) The frangipani rubra is common in Melbourne and all along the coast New South Wales. Frangipani rubra comes in a range of colours with the most popular being the white (always yellow centre), pink (various) and orange (includes tricolour and fruit salad).
Most people in Brisbane prefer the P. obtusa, specifically the Singapore White. Singapore Whites have a slightly larger flower with a scent to rival the best. In warm climates, they can retain their leaves which is why many people call them the evergreen frangipanis. Due to their evergreen nature, they suffer more in frosty conditions and when temperatures are too cold.