Brugmansia (Angels Trumpets)


Pink Brugmansia in full blossom.

If you want to make a spectacular show on your patio, there is nothing to beat a couple of Brugmansia (Angels Trumpet) plants. In their native habitat they can grow to be a tree up to twenty feet tall. But, they won't get to this size in Chicago.


Datura blossoms point up

They are often confused with Datura which is also called Angels Trumpet. They are not related and the differences are Brugmansia blooms are pendulous and hang down whereas Datura blooms are vertical and stand up. Also Brugmansia is a tree and Datura is a shrub.


Inca Sun Brugmansia in full blossom.

In Chicago the plant is best grown in a large container, as it has to be moved indoors in the winter.

Brugmansia plants can be obtained from any reliable nursery such as Logees. When received they should be repotted into a larger pot with any good potting compound. Bear in mind, they are going to get quite large and I recommend a pot with a wide base as they can get blown over during strong winds.

Keep the plants well watered. In very hot weather it may be necessary to water twice a day, especially if the plants are large. I also feed them once a week, use a high phosphate fertilizer such as Miracle Grow's Bloom Booster or something similar. I like a water soluble fertilizer rather than granules sprinkled on the surface as it gets to the roots quicker. For years I used Schultz Bloom Plus which had a rating of 10, 54, 10 but this is no longer available. (For your information the first number is the Nitrogen content, the second number is the Phosphate content and the final figure is the Potash content.)


Severe pruning in winter

When the temperature starts to drop below 45F outside it is time to think about winter storage. I cut mine back severely (see picture) and put them in the back stairwell which is dark, unheated but frost free. I personally do not water mine but some people recommend watering very sparingly once a month. I have not tried this and some of my plants are over fifteen years old and bloom every year.

When the weather gets warmer in the spring and there is no danger of frost, it is time to bring them out. Water them and enjoy the blooms. On a still summer evening the scent is almost overpowering.

Brugmansia can be grown from seed but a far easier way is from cuttings.

When you cut them back for overwintering, you can get an ample supple of cuttings. Do not use the green shoots at the ends but cut pieces about six to eight inches long from the riper wood about which is as thick as your thumb. Make sure there are at least two leaf nodes or scars on each cutting.


This cutting is beginning to through out leaves

These can be rooted in water. Make sure you keep the right orientation, that is the lower end of the cut is the end which will root. These should be started within a few days of cutting. When you see roots they should be planted into four inch pots and when they get larger into six inch pots.

These have to be kept growing all winter under grow lights or on a sunny window sill so they are ready for outside next spring.

One thing to watch out for is spider mite. If the leaves start to turn yellow and fall off, look for tiny webs and tiny spiders. These can be eradicated with "Mitex" or something similar. Last winter 2009/2010 was the first time I had a problem with these and although most of the leaves fell off after treatment they revived.

Every year I make about twenty cuttings for sale at the Wicker Park Garden Club plant sale.


Great Article

The brugmasia article is very good - thanks for writing it.

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