What to Plant Under Frangipani Tree

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
October 8, 2023
Frangipani tree

Gardening, to me, is more than just a hobby. It’s an art form that carries the potential to transform living spaces in a mesmerising way. A landscape dotted with vibrant flora surely lifts our spirits and enhances our overall well-being. 

Now, imagine your yard brightened by a gorgeous frangipani tree! You’re possibly nodding, thinking about the serenity this tropical plant brings along. But have you ever wondered what to plant under your frangipani tree? This article will quench your curiosity and help you create a visually compelling gardening scene. Let’s understand how we can make the most of that space under your beautiful frangipani!

What is a frangipani tree?

Well known for its vibrant coloured flowers and distinctive fragrance, the frangipani tree is a captivating centrepiece in any garden setting. Scientifically named Plumeria Rubra, after the 17th-century French botanist Charles Plumier, this tropical beauty originally hails from South America but has now spread far across various parts of the globe. My favourite part of the frangipani tree is that they can flower all year, if treated correctly. 

Frangipanis prefer warmer climates like Brisbane; however, they can adapt successfully to colder temperatures if given adequate care and protection. Thus making them resilient yet attractive additions to diverse gardening settings.

Strikingly large leaves cluster at branch tips, appearing in lush green or copper-red tones, enhancing their visual appeal while serving as charming arboreal hosts for companion plants underneath, which we’ll discover further down this read! 

What does a frangipani tree look like?

The frangipani tree, renowned worldwide for its exceptional beauty and captivating fragrance, has an unmistakable charm that ingratiates itself to many gardeners. Its thick, leathery leaves grow in dense clusters close to the branch tips, creating a lusciously verdant appearance during growth periods. However, as per the nature of deciduous trees, it’s not uncommon for the frangipani to shed these leaves during cooler epochs.

Characterised by a thick, robust trunk and spindly branches spread outwards at intriguing angles, this splendid specimen is a testament to uniquely spontaneous natural architecture. The crowning jewel of frangipanis is their alluring bouquet, exuding intoxicating aromas. Typically, 5-petaled and boasting hues ranging from soft yellows and stark whites to vibrant pinks and deep crimsons serve as an unrelenting allure for pollinating insects throughout flowering seasons.

Frangipani flowers

Varieties of frangipani trees

In my gardening experiences, I have discovered numerous varieties of this enchanting species, each with its individualistic flair.

  1. Plumeria rubra: An enigmatic variety that holds numerous colour variations within its dominion – radiant reds, sunny yellows or delectable apricots are prevalent in this type.
  2. Plumeria alba: As the name suggests (alba translating to white), this one mesmerises onlookers with ethereal white flowers crowned by yellow centres.
  3. Plumeria obtusa: Also known as Singapore White or Singapore Pink, it boasts evergreen foliage brimming with either pristine white or delicate pinkish blossoms, often accompanied by smaller petals than its counterparts.
  4. Plumeria pudica: Distinguished by unique fiddle-shaped foliage cloaked year-round in bridal-white blossoms, it typically prefers the intimacy of a container garden due to its relative tolerance to lower warmth levels.

Remembering our keyword – ‘planting frangipani’, it would be helpful for aspiring plant enthusiasts looking into what to plant under their frangipanis to note that individual preferences, temperament, and complementing aesthetics heavily influence choosing between this splendid spectrum of varieties.

What to plant under a frangipani tree

For those short on time or general reading capacity, here is the tl;dr list for what to plant under a frangipani tree.

  • Ground Covers: Blue Chalksticks, Mondo Grass, Star Jasmine, Sweet Violet.
  • Succulents: Agaves, Bromeliads, Kalanchoes.
  • Tropical and Subtropical Plants: Cast Iron Plant, Cordylines.
  • Bulbs: African Lily, Canna Lilies, Spider Lily.
  • Herbs: Mint, Parsley.
  • Ferns: Bird’s Nest Fern, Maidenhair Fern.
  • Shade-loving Perennials: African Daisies, Bleeding Heart, Clivia.

Below, I’ll delve into these recommendations and provide some general tips for planting them next to your thriving frangipanis!

Ground covers

Blue chalksticks (Senecio serpens)

Blue chalksticks

One of the primary questions I get asked as a blogger is, “What to plant under a frangipani tree?” The answer varies depending on your garden design ideas and personal preferences. Our first candidate for ground cover under frangipani trees is Blue Chalksticks. An attractive succulent, the Senecio serpens, or Blue Chalksticks, adds an interesting visual element with its delightful blue-green foliage.

Blue Chalksticks work well as ground coverage because they can withstand partial shade thrown by the dense canopy of frangipani trees. Given their short growth height —usually not more than 30 cm— you won’t have to worry about them obstructing views of your frangipani.

Furthermore, they’re relatively low-maintenance and will provide a striking contrast against the distinct backdrops offered by variously hued frangipanis.

Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)

Mondo grass

If you want something slightly different from typical choices in your Frangipani bush surroundings, then Ophiopogon japonicus —commonly named Mondo Grass— is worth considering. Known as a hardy grass suitable for various soil types and conditions, it is quite comfortable nestled under a Frangipani tree.

Resilient against pests and requiring minimal watering once established, Mondo Grass’s reedy leaves gracefully arch outwards and create a lush carpet effect that aesthetically complements frangipanis’ tall elegance. From this sturdy base spring, beautiful lilac flowers during summer add vibrancy beneath its towering companion.

Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

Star jasmine

Our next option brings not only visual beauty but also adds a layer of sensory experience through fragrance. The Star Jasmine is an incredible choice for your garden, filling the air around the frangipani tree with a heavenly scent.

Though known more as a climber, Star Jasmine can just as easily be trained to form an attractive, fragrant ground cover. Though it enjoys full sun, it readily tolerates partial shade — making it apt for underplanting frangipanis. The contrast of Star Jasmine’s small white flowers against frangipani’s large, vibrant blooms offers quite an appealing display.

Sweet violet (Viola odorata)

Sweet violet

Last on our list of suitable ground covers is the charming Sweet Violet or Viola odorata. Best known for their classic heart-shaped leaves and delicate blue-violet blooms, sweet violets make a lovely addition near the base of frangipani trees.

They are perfect companions to plant under frangipani since they appreciate cool, partially shaded areas through hotter months — exactly what the broad leaves of a frangipani offer. However, caring for these plants requires ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged to prevent root rot.

These suggestions will bring variety by adding texture and layering beneath your Frangipani canopy while benefiting from its protective umbrella-like structure sequence. Their individual boosts – visual appeal, hardiness or sensory enhancement- make them favourite candidates amongst Frangipani companion plants.


Succulents are not overlooked when pondering what to plant under a frangipani tree. These water-storing wonders of nature deliver an exotic touch that pairs wonderfully with the tropical appearance of the frangipani. Their drought-resistant attributes, growth habits, and varied shapes and colours present refreshing frangipani companion plants.

Agaves (Agave americana)


The Agaves are startlingly unique and transition flawlessly into a thriving frangipani garden thanks to their striking rosette pattern and dramatic leaves. The sword-shaped foliage, which matures in a blue-green hue, adds contrast in both colour and texture when planted around or under your frangipani trees. Moreover, they adapt readily to various soil types, preferring well-drained soils – another bonus point for our frangipani-friendly garden.

Remember this: caution should be exercised when handling these plants, as the sharp spines on the leaf tips can prick! 

Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae)


Next up in our line of succulent delight is none other than the Bromeliads family – remarkable for their radiant blooms and glossy foliage. Typically, bromeliads prefer filtered light, making them perfect tenants under the canopy of your frangipani tree, where branches intermittently block direct sunlight.

There are several species to pick from owing to their inviting choice of flower colours – brilliant reds, sunny yellows, vibrant oranges – sometimes all at once flying high on a single plant!

Granted, there may be occasional cleaning needed from fallen frangipanis, but I assure you it’s worth every bit considering how dramatically these beauties brighten your outdoors.

Kalanchoes (Kalanchoe pinnata)

Tailing close behind are our flamboyant friends – Kalanchoes. They carry forward our pursuit for low maintenance yet visually pleasing specimen plants for frangipani under-planting. These blossoming beauties take on the shade-loving characteristic, presenting a showy display of clustered flowers from winter to spring.

While their flashy flowers are enough cause for admiration, let’s not dismiss their fleshy green leaves, which further attract one’s attention. Popular variants include Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana and ‘Flapjacks’, boasting flamboyant blooms and broad pancake-shaped foliage, respectively.

Remember these buddying companions when you seek out what to plant under your frangipani tree next time. Their minimal care requisition – less watering during colder months aligns harmoniously with the nature of frangipani trees, ensuring a coexisting fauna that’s both captivating and comfortable in your gardening journey.

Tropical and subtropical plants

Underneath the frangipani, tropical and subtropical plants thrive due to their love for dappled shade and humid conditions. These flora make excellent companions with frangipanis because they further enrich the tree’s exotic aura.

Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)

Cast iron plant

The robust Cast Iron plant, formally known as Aspidistra Elatior, is one of those perfect additions for any frangipani garden design ideas. Adaptable by nature, these plants exhibit an impressive tolerance towards less-than-optimal situations such as low light and irregular watering. Their large and lustrous green leaves bring in a deep contrast against the lighter hues of the frangipani blooms.

It’s essential to remember that while this variety is recognised for its hardiness, it appreciates a good mulching session during winter months. A mixture comprising compost or leaf mould will help insulate the root system from freezing temperatures while improving soil health. After all, effective Frangipani companion planting demands symbiotic relationships!

Cordylines (Cordyline fruticosa)


Injecting a surprising burst of colour into your underplanting selection are cordylines or Cordyline fruticosa. Not only do these AGM award-winning perennial plants steal attention from afar with their vividly pigmented foliage spiralling outwards, but they also comfortably cohabit with Frangipanis since both species enjoy similar growing conditions.

Take care when choosing a specific type; various strains within this complex species display different levels of frost resistance – hence, ensure you’re selecting one suitable for your local climate. Regarding maintenance, aim at moderate irrigation since overwatering might make them susceptible to root rot. Therefore, avoid sites where water tends to puddle or with poor drainage.

By incorporating these select species, you create a vibrant balance of textures and colours around your frangipani garden, genuinely celebrating the beauty each genus offers in its unique style. Remember, understanding what to plant under frangipani is not merely about aesthetics but also about fostering plant communities that harmoniously coexist and enhance their mutual growth. Enjoy this refreshing exercise of green creativity!


Ferns are an excellent choice for shady, moist parts of your garden, and they can be perfect companions to the frangipani tree.

Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus)

Bird’s nest fern

The Bird’s Nest Fern is first on our list of what to plant under a frangipani tree. Favoured by renowned horticulturists, this leafy green fern, with its distinctive ripple-edged leaves, offers an appealing lushness at the base of your frangipani tree.

The Asplenium nidus thrives in shade areas, which makes it suitable as it won’t compete against the sun-loving frangipani. Despite its tropical origins, the Bird’s Nest boasts considerable hardiness; it tolerates varying soil conditions and sporadic watering schedules that follow rain patterns rather than systematic human intervention.

Remember these pointers when growing Bird’s Nest ferns:

  • The robust root system of the Bird’s Nest fern provides stability and absorbs nutrients without conflicting with or damaging the roots of your frangipani. 
  • The bird’s nest fortifies the surrounding ecosystem by fostering symbiotic relationships with many insects, thus promoting biodiversity at the foot of your Frangipani tree.
  • Ensuring a well-drained but consistently moist substrate proves crucial for a thriving fern colony.

Maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.)

Maidenhair fern

In contrast to the more rugged style of the Bird’s Nest variety, Maidenhair ferns’ allure lies in their delicacy, portraying finesse through gentle arching stems cascading fragile-looking fanlike leaflets. Yet don’t let aesthetics mislead you; while appearing tender, they display admirable resilience in less-than-perfect environmental conditions.

Maidenhair fern beautifies your Frangipani garden design ideas superbly without becoming invasive or competitive over resources:

  • They lend an almost ethereal beauty underneath frangipani’s exuberant growth, offering gentle layers of contrast.
  • These ferns can tolerate the semi-shade beneath a frangipani tree very well. They bask on occasions when sunlight filters through the branches and illuminates their tiny leaflets.
  • Surprisingly resistant to many pests, they help keep your little under-tree paradise safe from attackers.

Remember that Bird’s Nest and Maidenhair Fern require adequate moisture without overwatering. Use a mulch cover around their base to conserve water and ensure satisfaction for these valuable frangipani companions.

Shade-loving perennials

When considering what to plant under a frangipani tree, it’s important to consider the shade-loving perennials. Their ability to thrive in shaded areas makes them an excellent choice, particularly as they can bring colour and vibrancy even in the shadow cast by the vibrant frangipani. Now, I’ll unpack three great options for you: African Daisies, Bleeding Heart and Clivia.

African daisies (Osteospermum)

African daisies

African daisies are a delightful perennial that can adapt well to being planted under a frangipani tree. Ignite your garden with its colours, from white and pink to purple and blue. Just remember – while these beauties tend towards prolific flowering in full sun, they can also endure shadier positions beneath your frangipani bush. As for care- water your daisies moderately but consistently and feed them occasionally for optimal growth.

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Bleeding heart

On another note, if you crave something truly dramatic under that frangipani tree canopy, consider introducing some Bleeding Heart plants—yes, their name might sound somewhat morose, yet their dazzling appeal would compel anyone! Their teardrop-shaped pink flowers and lime-green foliage cascade downwards, creating an enchanting spectacle. 

Resilient by nature, these hardy perennials won’t mind being nestled under the broader leaves of your Frangipani plant; they appreciate shaded environments that mimic their forest-floor origins. However, like other understory dwellers, this plant requires adequately moist yet well-drained soil conditions.

Clivia (Clivia miniata)


Last but not least on my list of recommended accompaniments for a frangipani garden design is Clivia, commonly known as Bush Lily, characterised by its attractive dark green leaves and glorious bright coloured flowers – most commonly orange but also available in rarer hues like yellow and red.

Unlike African Daisies, Clivia plants are bona fide shade dwellers. Outfitted with a sturdy root system, they prove excellent at fighting off the competition for nutrients often encountered when sharing soil space with other plants – an attribute that bodes well for those thinking of adding some Clivia to their frangipani underplanting project! Providing them adequate watering, especially during their flowering phase and shielding them from drastic temperature drops would yield blooming rewards.

In short, understanding the variables involved in selecting appropriate frangipani companion plants is critical. African Daisies, Bleeding Hearts, and Clivia all provide differing aesthetics for your shaded garden area whilst relishing a thriving ecosystem fostered by your Frangipani tree.


African lily (Agapanthus)

African lily

The African Lily, known scientifically as Agapanthus, deserves its spotlight beneath your Frangipani tree. This sun-loving gem blooms graciously in the summer with bell-shaped flowers in a stunning palette of blues – from deep indigo to soft sky blue. 

Plus, it’s remarkably tough. Its strappy evergreen or semi-evergreen leaves manage to coexist harmoniously with the frangipani’s root system. And so remember, when you’re considering what to plant under a frangipani tree, an important factor is whether it can fend for itself among other roots.

Moreover, the slender stalks of the African Lily add both height and dimension that complement the grandeur of your towering Frangipani tree.

Canna lilies (Cannaceae)

Canna lilies

Next on our list are Canna Lilies, which belong to the Cannaceae family. Arriving in a vibrant assortment of reds, oranges, yellows and pinks — these tropical bulbs bring the show-stopping blossoms your garden craves.

Remember how I said we need plants tough enough to hold their own? Well, these beauties are fearless! As long as they are afforded ample water during dry spells (frangipanis won’t mind), they’ll flourish even amidst potential competencies for nutrients and space underground.

Interestingly enough, what sets Canna Lilies apart isn’t necessarily their alluring blooms but their broad glossed leaves boasting exotic patterns and colours nearly matching those of their flowers!

Spider lily (Hymenocallis)

Spider lily

Finally rounding out this section is the ethereal Spider Lily or Hymenocallis—a true star among bulbous plants for shaded areas like beneath our good friend the Frangipani tree.

Earning its name from its delicate spindly white petals spreading out like a spider’s legs, this lily looks magical under the dappled sunlight falling through the frangipani’s lush foliage.

Resilient and easy to grow, Spider Lilies prefer well-drained soil—an excellent match for the frangipani since these trees are likewise wary of waterlogged conditions. Plus, they’re rather tolerant regarding the inevitable competition for a room below among roots.

All in all, bulbous plants lend themselves particularly well to life beneath the frangipani. A perfect cocktail of beauty and hardiness that bond seamlessly with their wonderful host above.


Herbs can also thrive under frangipani trees. They enjoy the partial shade provided and grow well in the tree’s moderately fertile soil. However, keep in mind that herbs should be watered more frequently than frangipanis, so ensure good hydration while avoiding overwatering your tree. In this section, we’ll look at two aromatic herbs that also double as excellent companion plants—mint and parsley.

Mint (Mentha spp.)


Marvellously fragrant with a vigorous growth habit, mint is an attractive ground cover under frangipani trees. Its vibrant green foliage provides visual contrast and serves as a deterrent for many pests thanks to its strong scent. Nonetheless, its aggressive spreading nature means it can quickly overrun other nearby plants if uncontrolled. Equipped with a robust root system similar to frangipanis, mint forms a dense carpet of vegetation, preventing weed proliferation.

There are numerous varieties of mint you could consider setting up camp beneath your frangipani, such as spearmint or peppermint, each bringing a unique vibrancy to the scene.

A few things worth noting when planting mint:

  • Choose a sunlit or partially shaded spot under the canopy
  • Ensure proper moisture without waterlogging
  • And most importantly, regularly prune and contain to manage its rapid invasion 

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)


Resilient and visually pleasing with lush green leaves, parsley makes an appealing addition to any understory plant collection beneath your frangipani. Drawing parallels with our previous herb — mint — parsley plays nicely in either sunlight or semi-shade environments, making it an aid for filling barren patches under your tree.

Much like regular garnish crops go through on one’s kitchen counter, parsleys emanate culinary benefits, all while casting an incredible texture throughout your garden landscape, thanks to their finely divided bright green leaves.

When incorporating parsley under your frangipani, remember to:

  • Maintain well-drained soil
  • Ensure a medium level of moisture
  • Harvest regularly to encourage new growth

Indeed, creating an enticing tapestry of intertwined flora beneath your statement-making frangipani tree can take details and patience. Yet with the right guardians like mint and parsley jumbled amongst your hand-picked selection, you’re stepping closer towards curating a thriving and flourishing verdant retreat.

Care and maintenance of frangipani trees

Contrary to the myths, tending to this tropical beauty isn’t a challenge exclusive to the seasoned green thumb. Your frangipani can flourish splendidly with a sprinkle of knowledge and a dash of dedication. Here’s some tips to ensure its thriving presence:

  • Root system consideration: Remember the frangipani’s adventurous roots when deciding on its home. Grant it ample space to spread without entangling with neighbouring plants.
  • Sunshine is bliss: Your frangipani adores its sunbathes. Ensure it basks in at least six hours of glorious sunshine daily to witness its vibrant floral display.
  • Watering wisdom: While summer calls for a weekly quench (about 1 inch per week), cooler months beckon a drier approach. A little restraint can lead to a bloom-filled summertime spectacle.

Embrace these pearls of wisdom, and watch your frangipani tree stand tall, radiant, and magnificent.

Common problems with frangipani trees

Navigating the world of frangipani care can sometimes feel like solving a botanical puzzle. But fear not, for every challenge, there’s a solution waiting to be uncovered. Let’s delve into some common frangipani problems and their remedies:

  • Leafy concerns: If your tree’s leaves bid adieu prematurely or don a yellow hue outside their seasonal drop, it’s time to revisit your watering routine. The key is striking a harmonious balance between hydration and dryness to keep your frangipani radiant.
  • Pest problems: Those pesky caterpillars and beetles have an appetite for your tree’s foliage and blooms. For a minor brigade, a hands-on approach to removing them might suffice. But when the invasion intensifies, consider organic or systemic pesticides to reclaim your garden’s peace.
  • Bloom blues: Awaiting those iconic frangipani flowers, but they’re playing hard to get? The likely suspect is a lack of sunlight. That golden rule of six hours of sunshine isn’t just a suggestion—those blooms must grace your garden.

Embrace these challenges as learning curves. Once you’ve catered to their fundamental needs, the pieces of your frangipani puzzle will seamlessly fit together, crafting a garden tale of triumph and beauty.


How do you make frangipani thrive?

To make frangipanis thrive, ensure they receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, water them regularly during hot months, allow the soil to dry between sessions, and feed them annually with slow-release fertilisers designed for tropical plants. Pruning helps shape the tree and removes unhealthy branches. Understanding your frangipani’s specific needs is key to its flourishing health.

Do frangipanis have invasive roots?

Frangipanis have a robust but non-invasive root system. While they can spread up to 5 metres wide, they remain relatively shallow, posing minimal threat to nearby foundations or plumbing. Providing adequate space between the tree and structures ensures its health and reduces potential damage risks.

Will frangipani flower in the shade?

Frangipanis prefers full sun and won’t flower abundantly in the shade. They need at least six hours of sunlight daily for the best bloom results. While they can handle some filtered light, ensure they receive ample sunshine for a consistent and vibrant flower display.

Can you train climbers like Star Jasmine to grow up frangipani trees?

Climbing plants like Star Jasmine can be trained to grow up frangipani trees, creating a stunning cascading effect. However, ensuring soil compatibility is vital since frangipanis prefer well-drained soil, and Star Jasmine needs more moisture. Both plants also require ample sunlight for optimal growth and blooming. Combining these plants can add an exotic touch to your garden.