Frangipani Health

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Frangipani Health (Intro)

Frangipanis are quite a tough plant and most will live to be a huge tree with no care at all,
however, there are various types of fungus, various types of insects and some unsuitable environments
that can reduce the attractiveness and reduce the health of a frangipani tree.
Most of these annoyances are minor, cause little damage and are easily treated.
Some, on the other hand, will progressively worsen and can eventually be fatal if not detected and treated early.

Over Watering

If your frangipani is on a mound, on sloping land, in well drain soil and doesn’t get watered with garden irrigation,
you won’t have to worry about over watering.
If on the other hand, your frangipani is on flat land or in a gully,
planted in heavy clay and gets watered with surrounding plants,
the roots of your frangipani are likely to get too much water and root rot can occur.
This is commonly known as “wet feet”.
Most people first realize their frangipani tree has root rot
when they notice their frangipani doesn’t produce any leaves in spring.

On closer inspection, they can notice the branches are soft,
and in advanced cases, there will be black liquid inside the branches.
If you see very soft frangipani branches that are folding under their own weight and have black liquid inside,
it’s most likely too late to save the tree.
If you notice the early signs of rot in the roots (or branches),
the problem can be corrected and it’s possible the frangipani can be rescued. (See below for more details).


Rot is often caused by too much water. (See previous section.)
Sometimes, water can sit in in the end of a branch after the branch has cut and shortened.
This can allow rot to develop and spread down through the centre of the branch.
Sometimes, a frangipani weakened by other factors can succumb to rot.

Large frangipani trees will often produce some new branches under it’s larger branches.
The larger branches grow and their leaves spread to get as much sunlight as possible for photosynthesis.
The sun for those new and smaller branches is blocked
so the frangipani tree will put less energy into the shaded branches and more energy into the sun exposed branches.
The larger sun exposed branches will grow more, stay hard and produce healthy looking leaves.
The neglected branches will lose strength, become soft, rot and die.
The dead branches sometimes dry up and turn to hard wood.
Large frangipani trees will continuing growing happily despite these dead branches making a mess in and around its trunk.
If you like your garden to look good, you can remove and dispose of all rotted frangipani branches and dead hardwood.
Like most possessions, if you monitor (your frangpani trees) regularly and notice problems early,
you can take action and prevent the problem getting worse.
With smaller frangipanis, rotting branaches should be cut off as soon as possible
to ensure the rot does not spread into the main stem and kill the whole plant.

If it’s a long branch, just the rotting section can be cut off to allow new shoots to grow from the stump.
If it’s a small branch or the branch has rooted back to a fork, cut the branch about 1cm from the fork.
The 1cm stump will dry up and heal. Be sure to test the frangipani for rot further down below the fork.

Frangipani Rust

Frangipani rust is a fungus that spreads on the underside of the frangipani leaves.
Rust requires humid conditions so it spreads uncontollably in the tropics and does not survive in Sydney.
In the early stages, rust is a small number of attractive gold dots on the underside of the leaves.
It easily floats through the air and infects other leaves and nearby frangipani trees.
As the spores increase, the rust makes the leaves go brown and fall off.
The biggest complaint about rust is that it makes the frangipani look unattractive.
With severe cases, rust can cause all the leaves to fall off before summer ends so it’s likely the frangipani will suffer
because of its inability to get energy from the sun through healthy leaves.
Rust can survive on fallen leaves and in soil so if left untreated in autumn,
the rust will appear the following summer.

It’s impossible or at least very difficult for
frangipani wholesales in the tropics to sell frangipanis in bulk without rust.
For growers and nurseries in the sub tropics like us, it’s almost impossible to prevent rust appearing
and very difficult to completely eliminate it once it appears but we believe
it’s very important to treat it as soon as it appears to prevent it from spreading.

If you have only a small number of frangipanis, you should aim to eliminate rust from your frangipanis.
In it’s early stages, rust on small frangipani plants can be controlled by simply cutting off the leaves.
However, rust is systemic so unless you are close to winter,
the rust will continue appearing on the underside of the frangipani leaves and should be treated.
On larger frangipani trees,
it’s best to treat the rust fungus using a technique known as drenching.

Drenching means using a systemic fungicide that can be mixed with water and poured over the soil for the roots to absorb.

For smaller frangipanis (under 2m), drenching is effective but spraying the leaves directly will help as well.
Allow 2 weeks and tehn check for rust weekly after that.
If you notice active rust (new gold pastules), treat again.

Black Tip Fungus

The fungus known as black tip occurs after the frangipani crowns have been exposed to frost or cold winter morning dew.
(At our nursery, only Frangipani Obtusa (aka. Singapore) get black tip
but I assume black tip can affect the hardy varieites in colder regions.)
The healthier and larger the frangipani,
the more resistant it will be to black tip damage.
Some fungicides treat it better than others but it can be treated.

If the frangipani doesn’t recover by itself and the balck tip isn’t treated,
rot can set in and spread down the branch.
Most of the times, the rot will stop at the fork killing only the one branch however,
in smaller and weaker frangipanis, the rot can spread further (see previous section).


Lichen grows on many trees including frangipanis.
It starts as a soft bright green subtance and looks a bit like moss.
The green hardens and eventually leaves a dark green or even black stain on the frangipani wood.
lichen requires only moisture from the air and sunlight and does not affect the health of the frangipani at all.

Some people think the lichen adds character to a frangipani tree but most people prefer cleaner looking wood.
Lichen, including some of the older lichen stains, is easily removed with a sponge and soapy water.

Lack Of Frangipani Flowers

It’s important to remember that flowers are part of the reprodctive system and are necessary to produce seed pods.
When a frangipani is young and growing well, it’s not so interested in reproducing
so it puts more of its energy into growing branches and producing leaves.
As frangipanis mature, they produce more flowers.
When a frangipani is stressed, it’s more likely to produce flowers.

One possibility is that reproducing becomes more important than growing.
If your frangipani isn’t producing flowers, be happy for it!
Be patient!

Fruit Spotting Bug

The fruit spotting bug prefers other tree species but in late summer they sometimes settle in frangipani trees.
If they go undetected and untreated, they can multiply rapidly and return to the same tree the following year.
The first sign of fruit spotting bug damage is a round black indent the size of a small fingernail
on the green wood near the branch tip.
If you find two or three of these indents on the same branch,
it’s likely one or one family of fruit spotting bugs have taken a liking to that tree or that small area.
Fruit spotting bugs can move quickly and fly away but they tend to stay in one small area, if undisturbed.
If you look at other nearby branches, you’ll often find the fruit spotting bug has already been on those too.
If they feed on the branch ends, the frangipani crowns can be killed (See Black tip section for more about dead tips).
In any case, the frangipani wood heals but the scars remain.
The best and most environmentally friendly method to deal with fruit spotting bugs
is to sneak up on them and squash them with your fingers or hands.

When you see one, be patient and make sure your first attempt is successful.
(And don’t forget to smell your fingers afterwards.)

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