How to Transplant Frangipanis

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Things You'll Need

  • Sharp shovel

  • Pruning shears

  • Loose, well draining oil

  • Burlap

  • Twine

  • Wheelbarrow

  • Plastic tarp (optional)

White and yellow frangipani

Frangipani, also known as plumeria, is a flowering shrub that grows well in tropical climates. Reaching about 4 feet in height, the trees produce flowers in a variety of colors from April through November. The frangipani's flowers are about 5 inches in diameter and are often used in Hawaiian leis due to their large size, pleasing colors and sweet fragrance. The plants take well to transplantation and, with a bit of prep work, should do well after transplantation.


Step 1

Six months prior to relocating a frangipani, dig a trench around half of the tree. The size of the trench will vary depending upon the size of the plant being moved. A tree's root ball should be 12 inches in diameter for every 1 inch of trunk diameter (trunk diameter should be measured at 4 inches above the ground). For instance, the trench should be dug 25 inches away from the trunk of a frangipani with a 2-inch trunk diameter.

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Step 2

Prune any roots that were cut while digging the trench and fill the trench with a loose, uncompacted, well-draining soil.

Step 3

Give the frangipani about 3 months to grow roots into the soil in the trench, then repeat Steps 1 through 3 on the other side of the tree. This second trench will also require a 3-month rest.


Step 4

It is now time to dig the hole that will become the frangipani's new home. When digging the new hole, make sure it is 2 to 2½ times larger than the root ball. It is crucial that the hole is both wider and deeper than the root ball of the plant.

Step 5

Remove the tree from its current location by digging around the trenches you made earlier, keeping the back of the shovel toward the root ball. Continue to dig a trench straight down until you reach the desired depth for the root ball. Once you have reached the desired root ball depth, continue digging while angling the shovel in towards the root ball, eventually cutting through the roots under the trunk. This process is called undercutting and should completely free the frangipani from the ground.


Step 6

Wrap the root ball in burlap, using twine to keep the burlap in place. Depending on the size of the frangipani it may be necessary to place the burlap under the root ball a little at a time. Try to disturb the root ball as little as possible during this process.

Step 7

Take the frangipani out of the ground by lifting the root ball. Do not lift the tree by the trunk. Get help if the tree is particularly large or cumbersome.


Step 8

Move the frangipani to the new location. This can be done by hand, wheelbarrow, or pickup truck depending on the size of the plant. Again, be as gentle as possible to avoid disturbing the root ball. Sometimes it is easiest to place the tree on a plastic tarp and drag it to the new location.


Step 9

Place the frangipani in the center of the new hole. It is not necessary to remove the burlap but the twine holding it should be cut. Fill the hole in with loose, well-draining soil up to the top of the root ball.

Step 10

Generously water the frangipani after replanting. Do not water the plant again for about 1 week, but be sure to resume a normal watering schedule after the first week.


Frangipani go dormant in the winter, making that the best time of year to transplant the tree with minimal stress. When digging the frangipani out of the ground, be sure to use a sharp shovel so that roots are cut, rather than ripped, out from under the tree.


Frangipani are related to oleander plants and contain poisonous sap. Take care when planting them around children and pets, as leaves can cause mouth irritation and illness if ingested.


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