The Plumeria rubra or Frangipane is a shrub native to the Caribbean and Venezuela, but widespread in most tropical countries, which in nature can take the size of a tree; the leaves are deciduous, but many species are evergreen.
This type of plant has a fleshy stem, which becomes woody in adult plants; the leaves are large, lanceolate, pointed, of different shades of green depending on the species;
The leaves, of a more or less intense green, are oval, sometimes pointed, deciduous or persistent.
When they are prematurely detached from them, as well as from the withered stems removed and from the cut branches, a whitish, sticky and toxic latex gushes out from them.
The flowers are the main reason why the plant is grown, in fact in summer produces many very large flowers, with 5-7 petals, white, pink, red, yellow, usually with the center of different color from the edge. In the early hours of the day, the flowers of the plumery and the stolen goods are very fragrant.
The stem, fragile, green and fleshy, with the passing of time strengthens, becomes darker and undergoes a process of lignification.
The roots are well developed and the growth rate is slow, but while in the countries of origin it can reach 10 meters in height, in other climatic conditions it does not exceed 2 meters. In Mexico there are majestic specimens and more than one hundred years old.
Flowers and fruits
The flowers, whose diameter can reach up to 8 centimeters, emanate a scent that varies depending on the species, can be intense and fruity or recall fragrances of lemon, honeysuckle, jasmine and rose together recalling the aroma created by Count Maurizio Frangipani at the court of Catherine de ‘Medici in the XVI century. Sometimes, as in the case of Plumeria Pudica, the perfume is absent.
The corolla is usually formed by 5 or 7 fleshy petals of white, red, pink, yellow, orange colour, but also, for instance, cream and lavender.
The fruits are represented by pods that can contain from 20 to 100 seeds, about 1-2 cm long, which take 8/9 months to mature, in areas characterized by dry summers and rainy winters, these shells are not numerous and should be eliminated because their growth would strain the plant at the expense of flowering.
- The Plumerie are the flowers that are used in the Pacific Islands to prepare large necklaces to give to guests, these are shrubs of medium or small size, closely related to the plants.
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The plants of Frangipane love the sunny positions, which favour an abundant flowering, it is advisable in any case to avoid direct exposure to sunlight in the hotter summer months; they fear the cold, so in autumn they should be housed in a protected environment, with at least 15-20 degrees of temperature. Since the plant in autumn and winter goes into complete rest, it can also be admitted in a dark or shady place, such as a garage or a closed veranda.
Protect the plants from the wind, especially if it is cool as the air currents can damage the plants of this kind.
During the growing season, from May to September, the plumeria rubra needs abundant watering, allowing the soil to dry slightly between one watering and the other; vaporize the leaves with distilled water in periods too dry. In winter plumeries they do not need much water, therefore water them rarely, once a month; if kept in place oxen, suspend completely the watering until spring.
From May to September provide a fertilizer for flowering plants with the water of the watering every 10-15 days.
For the planting of Frangipane plants use a balanced and very fertile compost; avoid too heavy soils, and ensure excellent drainage, even adding to the compound coarse material such as perlite or pumice stone so as to have a light and balanced compound.
The frangipani can be cultivated both in pots and in arid, sandy or stony soils; in both cases the drainage must be excellent, without water stagnations. As this plant does not survive with temperatures lower than 5°C, the best climate is mild or warm, without wind, usually between 24°C and 29°C.
The fertilization, in spring and summer, must be constant and periodic, that is every 2-3 weeks.
The pomelia is multiplied by seed or by cutting; in the first case, starting from the mother plant, different varieties can be created, in the second one, identical plants are obtained. The fragment for reproduction can be taken at any time of the year, but the rooting takes place in spring or early summer. Thanks to grafting, the same shrub produces flowers of different colours. Pollination takes place by wind or insects.
It happens by seed in spring, using the fresh seeds produced by the flowers of the previous year, placed in containers filled with a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts; the mixture should be kept slightly moist, without exceeding in the watering: the plants produced by seed usually do not produce flowers for at least 3-4 years, also hardly flowers are of the same color as those of the mother plant.
The multiplication can also take place by taking cuttings at the end of the dormancy period, at the beginning of spring; the cuttings must be kept in a dry and warm place for at least ten days before being buried in a compound rich of sand, also in this case the soil must be kept humid, without, however, soaking it too much, in order to avoid harmful radical rottenness of the new plants.
Pests and diseases
The plumeries are often attacked by cochineal; for this reason, before the flowering period is good to provide a preventive treatment with the use of special insecticide products that will protect the plants from possible attacks.
Plumery, although delicate, is not subject to particular diseases, however, during the life cycle some diseases may occur.
Dark spots on the underside of the leaves are usually caused by a phytophagous insect, the brown or cotton cochineal. Yellow or brown spots could signal the presence of the red spider, a mite very harmful to the plant. Small rust-coloured spots derive from a fungus that causes the premature fall of the leaves. In all these cases, the disease must be treated promptly using specific products.
Frangipane – Plumeria rubra: Variety of Plumeria
The most known and widespread variety is Plumeria rubra, native to Mexico and Guatemala;
also known as Antilles jasmine, is particularly suitable for Mediterranean climates. The scent of the flowers, pinkish white with a yellow mouth, is similar to that of jasmine and tuberose.
The Plumeria, improperly called, according to some, Palermitana is the flower symbol of the Sicilian capital; it has sharp light green leaves, white petals and a yellow heart; it smells of lemon and vanilla.
The plumeria obtusa, coming from Colombia, is an evergreen like the plumeria pudica with thin and lanceolate leaves.
- The Plumerie are the flowers that are used in the Pacific Islands to prepare large necklaces to give to guests; it is possible to find a
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