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How to Grow Australian Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum)

Native frangipani prefers a sunny spot in your garden. However, it will grow quite successfully in a semi-shaded spot or even dappled shade.

Australian native frangipani grows naturally along the coast of Queensland and New South Wales. In its native habitat, it can grow into a relatively tall tree to a height of 25 metres.

However, when grown in a garden setting, the tree is usually much smaller and will only reach a maximum height of around 10 metres in ideal conditions.

In early spring, the tree will start to produce attractive frangipani-shaped flowers that are golden yellow with a deep red throat as they age. Young flowers are often cream in colour and will darken. The flowers are also sweetly scented.

Native Frangipani Hymenosporum flavum 1 | Plant care

Here’s everything you need to know to grow this stunning small tree in your garden.

Light requirements

Native frangipani prefers a sunny spot in your garden. However, it will grow quite successfully in a semi-shaded spot or even dappled shade but you might get fewer flowers.

Temperature and humidity

Being a rainforest species, the native frangipani prefers a warmer climate and can withstand a fair amount of humidity. 

However, it can be successfully grown in more temperate areas as it will tolerate moderate frosts once established. If you’re in a cooler region, protect young plants from frost until they’re around 2 metres tall.

Native Frangipani Hymenosporum flavum 3 | Plant care

Soil requirements

Hymenosporum flavum will adapt to most soil types, from sandy to clay soils, but it does love nice loamy soil that has been enriched with lots of organic matter. 

The soil should be free-draining but this tree will handle moderately moist soil as well.

Water requirements

During summer, if you’re in an area that receives little rain, it’s important to provide your native frangipani with some supplementary water. The soil should be kept relatively moist but not overly wet.

For this reason, consider covering the soil with a thick layer of mulch to help conserve moisture and keep your tree nice and healthy.

Fertiliser

Your native frangipani should only need to be fertilised once a year in spring.

Try to select a fairly balanced fertiliser that has a good level of potassium in it to encourage lots of those lovely fragrant blooms. 

Native Frangipani Hymenosporum flavum 5 | Plant care

Native frangipani pruning

It’s generally not necessary to prune a native frangipani because that can change its natural shape which is actually quite beautiful and unique.

However, if you wish, you can prune your own native frangipani if you want to reshape it and manage its size.

This is especially prudent if you want to keep it smaller or even grow a number of these gorgeous trees as a hedge.

Native frangipani problems, pests and diseases

Like many of our native species, Hymenosporum flavum is not prone to many pests or diseases. 

However, under certain conditions, you might find your plant infested with scale insects. These will usually appear as small dark bumps or white cottony specks on the stems and sometimes, the foliage.

scale insects | Plant care

One of the major problems with sap-suckers such as scale is that they excrete a sticky substance commonly referred to as honeydew. This is very attractive to ants and colonies of ants will actually protect the scale insects so that they can feed on the honeydew.

As a result of all of this honeydew, a black sooty mould will eventually cover some of the leaves of the tree. The best way to deal with this, which can be unsightly, is to treat the cause of the problem.

Scale insects can be sprayed with an organic product such as neem oil or white oil. This covers the insects and suffocates them. You can then get rid of the sooty mould by simply wiping it off with a damp cloth.

Yellowing leaves

Another problem that you might notice with your native frangipani is the leaves turning yellow. This can often be the result of a scale infestation or there could be a number of other reasons.

Overwatering can cause native frangipani leaves to turn yellow. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the soil is free-draining and has no chance of becoming waterlogged.

You also want to ensure that you don’t add too much phosphorus to the soil. Although the native frangipani is not as phosphorus-sensitive as many other Australian native trees, you still don’t want to overdo it.

When in doubt, it’s best just to use a fertiliser designed specifically for Australian natives to ensure that you’re not adding too much phosphorus to the soil.

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Native frangipani root system

The root system of the native frangipani is not considered as being invasive. This means that you can safely plant this tree in your yard without worrying about whether it will cause any damage. 

However, because the root system can be quite shallow, make sure that you choose a spot that is protected from strong winds.

Their non-invasive root system also makes these trees suitable for planting around your pool for that truly tropical feel.

Just be aware that the flowers will drop off the tree once they’re spent. This might mean that you’ll have to clean your pool more often to get rid of the spent flowers.

The dwarf native frangipani

If you would love to grow native frangipani but you only have a small garden, you might want to consider growing the dwarf cultivar – ‘Gold Nugget’.

This lovely variety has similar features and the same flowers as the main species.

However, it will only reach a height and spread of 0.7 metres. This makes it ideal for growing as a feature shrub or even a low-growing hedge beside a pathway. 

It will even grow quite happily in a large pot that you can sit on your patio or balcony and enjoy that lovely tropical fragrance when the plant blooms in spring and summer. 

Just make sure that you protect the plant from strong winds and frosts.

And, if you’re growing it in a pot, make sure that the pot has plenty of drainage holes and that you water frequently during the warmer weather.

FAQ

Are native frangipani evergreen?

Yes, unlike non-native frangipani, our native frangipanis are evergreen and won’t lose their large glossy leaves in winter. 

Is Hymenosporum flavum poisonous?

While Hymonosporum flavum is not overly poisonous, it does exude a milky sap when cut. This can cause skin irritation in humans and can cause digestive discomfort if consumed by pets such as dogs and cats.

How big do native frangipanis grow?

In a suburban garden setting, a native frangipani should only reach a maximum height of around 10 metres. However, in its native habitat, it can grow to a height of 25 metres.

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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