These beautiful fragrant plants are commonly known as Angel’s Trumpet. This week we will take a look at the Brugmansia family. Hailing from South America, these beauties love damp conditions with warm days and cool nights. They are in the Solanaceae family, which is the same family that tomatoes, potatoes and petunias are in. However, a word of caution: Brugmansias are toxic.
Over Wintering Brugmansia
If you live in zone 9, these are long-lived perennials, but if you are in zone 8 or lower and the roots should freeze, they will die. The best thing to do is over winter them in either a sunny window or by pruning them back and storing them in a cool, dark place such as a basement. Another option available if you have limited space is to save the seeds by placing a pantyhose or similar material over the seed pod and allowing it to open naturally. The liquid inside the seed pod is extremely dangerous, and should not be touched with bare skin. You can take a cutting, dip it in rooting hormone and roll it in newspaper before placing in a safe place. These plants have been known to root up to two years after they have been stored in this way.
Caring For Brugmansia
Now, you ask, I have a healthy Brugmansia, how do I go about keeping it happy? The first thing to do is make sure if you choose to grow yours in a pot that it is balanced so the wind cannot knock it over. The limbs of these plants break fairly easily. Remember to leave enough room at the top of the pot to water it. They love water and can handle a drink daily in the hot summer months. Another suggestion is to fertilize your Brugmansias with a good fertilizer at least every two to three weeks. A commonly used fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro, Peters, or Andersons 17-17-17 is a good choice. Another suggestion would be to give your plant some shade during the hot part of the day. Brugmansias love full sun, but the heat caused by it can result in slowed growth, sparse or no blooms and leaf loss to name just a few of the problems. There is no sight like that of a Brugmansia heavy with blossoms. It’s just gorgeous. The perfume that the flowers release is a sweet, intoxicating scent. Brugmansias will bloom abundantly year round if given the proper care.
Pruning Your Brugmansia
If you decide to prune your Brugmansia instead of allowing it to grow naturally, you must wait until it begins to “Y.” If you have purchased your plant, it may already have a “Y,” but if you are growing yours from a cutting or seeds, you will have to be patient. The purpose of pruning a Brugmansia is to force it to grow more limbs, thereby forcing it to produce more flowers. The proper way to do this is to cut all but the newest growth off. Let it grow a bit and snip it here and there remembering to cut as close to the trunk as possible without cutting into the trunk. If you prefer a bushy tree, then you must prune a lateral branch. The cuts here need to be made at the joint, and each joint can produce up to two new branches. If you prefer to get fancier with your Brugmansia, you can make a double or triple trunk tree and then proceed to twist or braid the trunks together, but you must start at an early age so that the trunks are soft and flexible. You will need to cut the leaves off the stems as you go and keep them tied with pantyhose as this will not cut into the stems. Using this method you can use one single colored plant, or two to three different colored plants. The results can be very unique and varied. Remember there is nothing like having a unique plant that no one else has. You don’t have to reveal your trade secrets either.
You can also prune the roots of a Brugmansia without hurting the plant. The purpose of this is so you can continue to enjoy your plant, without having to buy a new pot. Speaking of pots, a full grown Brugmansia will be perfectly content in a ten gallon pot as long as you keep the roots trimmed and occasionally replace the soil.