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Things to Plant Under a Frangipani Tree (Australian Guide)

Who doesn’t love the sweet scent of a frangipani tree? Whenever I see one of these, it reminds me of holidays in warm tropical places like Bali and Thailand. It also reminds me of when we lived in Queensland and frangipani trees were in almost every yard.

But, the foliage of a frangipani tree is quite open which means the understorey is filled with dappled sunlight and it’s nice to compliment the smooth trunk of the frangipani with other lush plants that add some greenery and also some contrasting floral colour.

Plus, the frangipani will lose its leaves over winter so it can look a little forlorn if you don’t have anything growing under it.

Here are a few plants that will grow well under a frangipani tree. Most of these will add a lush, tropical feel to your garden.

Bromeliads

Guzmania Lingulata | Plant care
Guzmania Lingulata Bromeliad / Photo by Mokkie / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

It’s important to remember that frangipanis do use a lot of water. Therefore, you want to underplant them with something that can survive on less. For this reason, bromeliads are perfect.

Bromeliads are semi-succulent and will hold water in their leaves and also in their ‘urns’. This means that they can handle low soil-water conditions really well. Plus, their lush green, leathery leaves look wonderful when planted en masse under a frangipani tree.

On top of that, you can get bromeliads in a wide variety of floral colours to perfectly compliment the yellow, white or pink blooms of the frangipani.

Agapanthus

Agapanthus Blue Agapanthus orientalis | Plant care
Agapanthus / Photo by Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Here in regional Victoria, agapanthus are regarded as weeds, and gardeners are discouraged from growing them. However, these plants are so easy to grow and their lovely green foliage and large white or blue blooms look spectacular when planted around the base of a frangipani tree.

Agapanthus are also fairly drought-tolerant so they pair well with a frangipani tree. The trick with these plants is to remove the spent flower heads before they have time to disperse their seeds. 

This means that the seeds won’t have a chance to spread into surrounding bushland areas and hence, the plants are contained within your garden.

Canna Lilies

canna lilies | Plant care
Canna Lilies

For those gardeners who live in more temperate areas, you might like to plant some canna lilies under your frangipani because these are better at growing in cooler climates. They also have lush green foliage and bright blooms to compliment your frangipani.

Bear in mind though, that this type of lily does require a little extra water during hot, dry spells in order to keep them looking their best.

Cordylines

Cordyline stricta | Plant care
Cordyline stricta / Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The beauty of cordylines is that they come in a variety of different leaf colours and will add a tropical feel to any garden. Especially if they’re planted in groups.

This makes them ideal for growing under a frangipani tree because they’ll appreciate the more semi-shaded position.

Cordylines are also tough plants that don’t require too much care and will stay lush all year round. Especially if you garden in a tropical or sub-tropical region.

Clivias

Clivia miniata | Plant care
Clivia miniata / Photo by Teresa Grau Ros / Flickr / CC 2.0

Cool-climate gardeners would be familiar with the lovely orange blooms of Clivia miniata. These plants thrive in semi-shaded areas and will even grow and bloom in heavier shade. 

More importantly, these lovely plants will provide some spectacular colour in winter while the frangipani is dormant and flowerless.

Plus, the dark green strappy foliage looks great against the bare trunk of the frangipani.

African Daisies

African Daisies | Plant care
African Daisies

Gardeners who live in coastal areas will be happy to know that frangipanis thrive under these sometimes harsh conditions.

You’ll also be glad that you can grow some gorgeous African daisies under your frangipani.

African daisies are perfectly happy growing in coastal areas and will add some lovely bright colour to your garden.

Agaves

Agave attenuata | Plant care
Agave attenuate / Photo by Phyzome / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re looking for a more sculptured look rather than creating a tropical oasis, you could consider growing large succulents such as agaves under your frangipani tree. These hardy plants are also extremely drought-tolerant and won’t compete with your frangipani for water.

Plus, these plants look amazing when planted in large groups and handle more temperate climates really well.

Kalanchoes

Kalanchoe | Plant care
Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes are also succulent plants that would be perfect for growing under a frangipani tree because they don’t need a lot of water and enjoy drier conditions.

You can also get these in a huge variety of different floral colours that will compliment your frangipani blooms perfectly.

Blue Chalksticks (Senecia serpens)

Blue Chalksticks Senecia serpens | Plant care
Blue Chalksticks (Senecia serpens)

This stunning succulent has blue-green foliage that blends perfectly with the darker green leaves of the frangipani. It’s also a perfect plant if you live in a more coastal area. 

Plus, being a succulent, it won’t compete for water with your frangipani.

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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