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Tropical beauty

By Staff | May 10, 2019


Spring is a wonderful time in Southwest Florida as trees and shrubs are beginning to sprout their leaves and flowers.

The showy tropical tree frangipani is a perfect tree for this area.

This tree flowers several months of the year, starting now. It is not a real tall tree, about 15 or 26 feet, with a flowering domed top. It is a wide tree so take that in consideration. It will need some room as it matures.

Nota P. Alba has only white flowers. The pastel color of flowers will be at tips of branches, fat rounded gray sausage-like limbs. You will be able to cut off a small branch of flowers for a vase with just a bit of water, or float individual flowers in a bowl. I read that the flowers are beautiful and peaceful floating in the bath, however, does anyone ever do that anymore?

We do not seem to be a Roman/Cleopatra style of society nowadays.

Maybe the pool?

This tree will be in a deciduous state after flowering. I think that is a great change. The tree is beautiful in that artistic flair of change. Nothing wrong with the tree, just enjoy, it will become full of leaves and beautiful flowers the next spring and you do not have to do anything except make sure it does not have wet feet, or cold weather.

The cold weather temperature meaning 30 degrees or below. We can almost count on the fact that will not happen.

The tree does have a milky sap and is considered poisonous. I have had this sap on my skin and it felt kind of irritating but I just brushed it off and never suffered even a red spot. I knew enough not to ingest it.

When you cut off some flowers, just be neat about it, or wear gloves, or wipe any off on your jeans.

The trees are so full of flowers that if planted way out as a single specimen in a large yard, it could be toppled over by hurricane winds, maybe one of our occasional 45 mile per hour wind blasts.

This tree is fine planted near home foundations. I had one about 3 feet way from wast side of house and no problems, except flowers did come up to the lanai screen. I had a nice excuse to just trim off a spray of the flowers.

There is a light sweet scent. These flowers are pollinated at night by the Sphinx Moth as they go from flower to flower transferring pollen in their fruitless search for nectar.

You may grow this tree in a big pot, with good drainage for several years. One of my long-time gardening friends gave me one and it lived in its pot for 5 years, no problem, on the lanai. It was getting kind of large and not flowering well, so moved it outside and it really took off.

You do need to make sure to have good drainage.

No particular soil, it does well in full sun, organic fertilizer once a year, and when you want to trim a fat, but not hard wood, just cut it off.

The really fun part is taking that branch and laying it down for about 3 weeks, with the cut side not covered, and let the wound heal over.

Plant this plain ole branch in a medium pot, with some good potting soil and some coarse draining material. The new plant still needs to be in sun and may need more watering, but still drain well. I had mine in a clay saucer and drained it, but could have just put it outside.

Watch that it does not start growing out of the pot bottom, before you replant.

The tree is mostly salt tolerant.

The Garden Club usually has a couple of these branches for sale at the annual March In the Park Garden Sale, each spring.

The tree does not have big pest problem, however as flowers start to leave, you will have a lot of leaves falling to ground. They may look browned and dry, that is OK, just run the lawn mower over them for lawn mulch.

So much information on these trees, too much for here.

However of special interest, these are the same flowers that are used to make the Hawaiian leis, and ladies, if you are seeking a relationship, place a flower over right ear; if you are taken, the flower goes over left ear.

Happy Mothers Day and happy gardening till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.