Australian Grow Guide: Climbing Frangipani (Chonemorpha fragrans)

Although Climbing Frangipani is a tropical plant, it can grow in cooler climates as long as it’s protected from frost.

Featured image: Chonemorpha fragrans I Photo by JMK I Wikimedia (cropped) I CC BY-SA 3.0

If frangipanis remind you of warm, balmy days up north as they do me, then you’re going to love this climbing frangipani.

Although it’s a tropical plant, it can grow successfully in cooler climates as long as it’s protected from frost.

What is climbing frangipani?

Climbing Frangipani | Plant care
Chonemorpha fragrans I Photo by JMK I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Climbing frangipani is actually a tropical vine and not a true frangipani although the sweetly scented white flowers with yellow centres do look very much like frangipani flowers.

This climber originates from South East Asia and India. It has large dark green leaves and stunning white scented flowers that appear from January through to April.

In temperate and subtropical areas, this vine is semi-deciduous while in cooler climates it will become dormant over winter.

How to plant a climbing frangipani

Climbing Frangipani 2 | Plant care
Chonemorpha fragrans I Photo by Vengolis I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 4.0

This tropical vine prefers to be planted in well-drained soil that is enriched with organic matter either in full sun or part shade. The soil should be slightly acidic.

Plants grown in full sun will flower more profusely than those grown in part shade.

When choosing the ideal location, bear in mind that it will need protection from frost and that it will require a strong trellis for support. 

Planting your climbing frangipani is fairly easy. You just have to dig a hole that is slightly wider and as deep as the pot that the plant is in.

Then, take the plant out of the pot, place it in the hole and backfill with soil. Water well to help the soil settle around the roots.

How to grow climbing frangipani on a vine trellis

Climbing Frangipani 1 1 | Plant care
Chonemorpha fragrans I Photo by JMK I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Climbing frangipani doesn’t have the capacity to cling to walls or other solid surfaces. Therefore, it needs a strong trellis that it can climb up.

Make sure that the trellis is well secured as it will get quite heavy once it’s fully covered with the vine.

To assist your plant to grow up and along the trellis, you’ll have to secure the climbing stems periodically to the trellis using some garden twine.

Keep doing this as the young vine continues to grow. You can train your plant to grow both upwards and horizontally along the trellis. 

This plant is also perfect for growing over a pergola or other shade structure as it will provide an ample amount of shade in summer and will let the sun in during the cooler months in temperate regions.

How to care for climbing frangipani

Climbing Frangipani 3 | Plant care
Chonemorpha fragrans I Photo by Vinayaraj I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Being a tropical plant, the climbing frangipani needs to be kept moist during the hotter months.

During the cooler months, it doesn’t need quite as much water but the soil should not be allowed to become totally dry.

Pruning should be done during the winter months to keep the vine from becoming unruly. However, it’s a good idea to do a little tip pruning while the vine is still young to encourage bushier growth.

There’s also no harm in trimming back any excessively long stems at any time during the growth period.

Feed your vine in spring with a slow-release fertiliser that is designed for flowering plants. Any type of rose food is good for this.

How to propagate a climbing frangipani

Climbing Frangipani 4 | Plant care
Chonemorpha fragrans I Photo by JMK I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Climbing frangipani can be propagated both from seeds and cuttings.

You can collect your own seeds by placing a paper bag over a few flower heads and waiting for the seed pods to dry and then break open.

It will usually take around 3 to 6 weeks for the seeds to germinate.

To propagate from cuttings, take a few stem sections from the ends of healthy stems.

Remove the lower leaves and keep just two or three leaves at the tip. Dip the bare end of the stems in rooting hormone and place in some potting mix.

Add a plant clouche to create a humid environment. Keep the cuttings relatively moist until new growth appears.


Why is my climbing frangipani not flowering?

In general, young plants may take a couple of years of strong growth before they start to flower. If your frangipani isn’t flowering, make sure that you feed it with a slow-release fertiliser suitable for flowering plants. This should contain a good amount of potassium which will encourage your plant to flower.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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