Native to tropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Venezuela to northern Chile, and also in south-eastern Brazil, Angel’s Trumpet or Brugmansia is a fun plant to grow seasonally in the South. In the tropical south (waaaaay down in FL), Angel’s Trumpet can grow outside all year-round. Here in Charlotte, I have my plant in a clay pot and I bring it into the basement to overwinter. If I left it outside, it would freeze. It might grow back from the roots in the spring but I am trying to maintain it’s standard or tree form.
Brugmansia is readily available by mail order. I don’t often see it in garden centers. It is a popular pass-along plant though because it’s easy to root or propagate from cuttings. I received my plant from a friend and I have made other plants from mine. Propagating plants appeals to my sense of thrift – free plants!
Angel’s Trumpet comes in a wide array of colors – yellows, white, peach, to almost red. They’re more in the pastel range. Many of the varieties have a fragrant scent. The blooms open at night and can perfume your garden. I’ve found the plants put out flushes of blooms. This means that you’ll have several blooms opening at once. It’s a great reason to have a candle-lit dinner or cocktails outside. The blooms are short-lived and last only a few days. Carpe Diem!
I’ve grown my Angel’s Trumpet in a tree or standard form. I chose to do this because the tall center stem gets the blooms of the plant higher off the ground and at about head height. The blooms of the Angel’s Trumpet hang down, so you have to be under them to really enjoy them. Being at head height helps you enjoy the fragrance too.
To make the tree form, I started with a straight cutting with a central budding point. The bud put out leaves as it grew. I used a garden stake to support it and straighten out its grown habit. I used strips from an old t-shirt to tie up the plant. I like t-shirt strips because the wider strip doesn’t cut into the plant. Also the fabric gives a little and lasts a while. I didn’t worry too much about side leaves as the plant grew but I pinched off side branches to keep the growth vertical. Once the plant reached about six feet, I allowed the side branches to continue to grow and pinched off the central lead stem to encourage more side growth.
A few tips: I’ve used a terracotta pot and I need to water the Angel’s Trumpet every day. If plastic pots are ok with you aesthetically, you might have more success because they retain moisture better. Brugmansias need water just about every day. They’re sensitive to being dry and the leaves will quickly wilt under water stress. In the heat of the summer you may have to water it morning and evening. I put mine in full sun and I give it lots of water soluble fertilizer. Throughout the summer, I turn it just a little to help even out the growth habit. Once the blooms have finished, I snip them off. A word of warning: all parts of this plant are toxic. Keep it away from pets and children. When you trim the plant, keep the sap off of your skin and wash it off if you come into contact with it. I use my hands to snip off spent blooms and leaves but I wash my hands right afterward. I also wash off anything tools I use to trim the plant.
Brugmansias are fun to grow and they grow FAST! As you’re daydreaming this winter about next summer, add an Angel’s Trumpet or two to your online garden order. They’re a great statement plant in your garden design.