The foot-long pendant blossoms of the angel trumpet plant are only fragrant at night but they are showy round the clock. Brugmansias have been extensively hybridized. There are white, yellow, pink and peach cultivars available.
Each color is available in several different shades and forms. Not only are there singles and doubles but triples, quadruples and shredded forms!
Cultivars vary in the number of blooms they produce. Some plants will display more than 100 flowers at one time while others will only have a few.
Flower color and form are affected by climactic conditions. The same plant grown in different places will typically exhibit differences in frequency, amount, shade and even form of bloom.
Angel trumpet flowers are usually fragrant, but they only emit their sweet perfume after dark.
In South America, where these plants are from, this attracts the Sphinx moth. The moth pollinates the flowers.
Fragrances vary from cultivar to cultivar. I have a white single which smells lemony to me. My peach single smells the way an orange creamsicle tastes and reminds me of that childhood treat.
There are two types of plants known as angel trumpets, Daturas and Brugmansias. You can easily tell them apart by the flowers. Brug flowers always hang down, dangling from the plant. Datura blooms point up or out.
Brugmansia plants will quickly grow to 15 or 20 feet in a frost-free climate. Here in the sub-tropics, they usually top out at 8-10 feet.
They can be kept to 6 feet by having their roots restricted in a large pot or tub. Plant your angel trumpet tree in the largest pot you can move.
Any container under 14 inches is too small.
You will have to water it twice a day during the summer if you underpot it.
You can easily train a potted angel trumpet plant into a single-trunked tree just by removing all other stems arising from the soil. This is pretty, but you will get more flowers by letting it grow as many stems as it likes.
Angel trumpet plants will only flower above a "Y" in the stem.
A young angel trumpet plant will form a "Y" naturally sometime in its first year.
You can prune older plants to get them to make more Ys and consequently more flowers. Every place you cut a stem, it will branch.
Angel trumpets thrive on rich, moist soil. Compost the planting area well before you set them in. Add compost to the potting mix for tub plants. The plant will grow quickly if you do this so use a heavy pot to avoid tipping.
Of course a plant with such large leaves likes regular water. Brugs also require fairly high humidity. If they don't get enough water they will wilt badly. They recover from this well once water is supplied.
If the air around them is too dry the spider mites will attack. These insects appear as tiny red dots on the undersides of the leaves. They suck the life out of the leaves causing them to turn yellow and fall. If you see webbing around the stem tips, the infestation is severe.
Prune all the webbed areas away and bag the clippings. Then run a humidifier in the staging area for a few hours each day. If the plants are outside, spray them with a garden hose daily and keep them well watered until more humid weather returns.
You may need to use a systemic insecticide in resistant cases.
Plants in tubs are best wintered in greenhouses, but a frost-free garage can be used. In this case, keep the plant dry and let it go dormant. You can prune plants that are going to be protected from the cold if you need to in order to fit them into the storage space.
Outdoor plants should only be pruned in the spring to remove the damaged portions and promote heavier bloom.
Angel trumpets are heavy feeders.
Give them plenty of food during warm weather, none during cold.
A slow-release granular applied in the spring and summer followed by monthly applications of a liquid plant food would not be too much.
Plants in pots could have the liquid food every two weeks.
Brugmansia cuttings root very easily. If you look at the plant's stems, you will notice that the ripe wood has little white dots on it. This is where the roots will come from.
When you take cuttings, this is the kind of wood you want not the green softwood that will only wilt and rot.
I've had success with cuttings from 6-12 inches long. Remove any flower buds and most of the leaves. Allow 2 leaves to remain but cut them in half to reduce their size.
Set the cuttings into deep cups of fresh potting mix. Water them lightly and place them in warm shade.
Two out of three cuttings treated this way will root within two weeks.
The new roots are fragile so don't pull the angel trumpet plant out of the cup to see if it has rooted. Either use a clear plastic cup or wait until you see new leaves growing.
Now you can move the plant into better light but avoid full sun. As an angel trumpet plant ages, it can handle more light. Full sun, however, may be too intense for it at any age. I find that my plants do best planted under tall trees which filter the hot Florida sun.
The angel trumpet plant is poisonous to humans as well as animals.
This plant is best kept well away from children or pets that have a habit of eating plants.
I once asked a local nurseryman what would happen if our dog (we had one at the time) were to eat a piece of this plant. He told me, "You will probably end up with a dead dog."
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Your plant guides,
Selina and Tiny