Brugmansia is a genus of seven species of flowering plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae. They are woody trees or shrubs, with pendulous flowers, and have no spines on their fruit. Their large, fragrant flowers give them their common name of angel's trumpets, a name sometimes used for the closely related genus Datura
Angel’s trumpets are commonly grown as ornamentals in frost-free climates and in greenhouses, and several attractive hybrids have been developed. Angel’s trumpets were once native to South America, but all species are now listed as extinct in the wild by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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less than 8 metres (26 feet)
Types of Brugmansia
Brugmansia species have distinctive, drooping trumpet-shaped flowers, and most produce sweetly-scented blooms that open at night. The biggest difference between each species is bloom color.
Brugmansia suaveolens: Native to Brazil; this cream-colored blooming plant is one of the most popular species.
Brugmansia aurea: This plant sports yellow blooms and is often called a golden trumpet. It's native to Ecuador and Venezuela.
Brugmansia sanguine: This red-flowering species has no scent and is commonly pollinated by long-billed hummingbirds. It is native to Colombia and Chile.
Brugmansia vulcanicola: Native to the Andean Mountains ranging from Colombia to Ecuador, this salmon-colored specimen is considered the rarest of the Brugmansia. Its 'Rosa Lila' hybrid is a rose-colored cultivar.
Brugmansia arborea: This plant features the shortest trumpet flowers, often a whiter cream color than most.
Brugmansia versicolor: This species from Ecuador has the largest flowers in pale apricot.
Brugmansia ‘Cypress Gardens’: Best for containers, young plants often flower at 3 feet in height with dozens of white flowers that fade to a light salmon with age.
Brugmansias are best grown in large pots, in John Innes No 3 compost. They can grow outside when all risk of frost has passed in late spring and summer, and need daily watering and plenty of feeding during the growing season. They are tender so must be brought indoors as temperatures fall in autumn. Keep somewhere that doesn’t fall below 7˚C in winter.
Where to grow brugmansia
Brugmansias can be grown indoors all year round, or outdoors in late spring, summer and early autumn before being brought indoors for the winter.
Indoors, brugmansias need plenty of bright light. They make excellent conservatory plants and can also be grown in a greenhouse that’s heated in winter, or near a large, sunny window.
Outdoors, brugmansias need a sheltered spot in full sun or part shade. If you’re growing them in the ground, ensure that the soil is moist but well drained.
How to plant brugmansia
Plant your brugmansia in a large container – the larger the better, at least 60cm wide– that can be kept indoors or moved outside in summer. Plant into John Innes No.3 compost, which is best for plants that are going to live in a pot long term.
If you’re planting your brugmansia in the ground over summer, make sure you have moist but well drained soil. Dig in plenty of organic matter, such as well rotted manure or garden compost, before planting. Mulch after planting to help lock moisture in.
Care for Brugmansia
Watering Brugmansias in pots need watering at least once a day in summer. Reduce watering in autumn and water sparingly in winter, as the plant will not be actively growing. Plants growing in soil will need less watering but do not allow the soil to dry out.
Feeding In spring, feed with a balanced liquid fertiliser once a month, to help promote strong growth. Switch to a high-potassium feed in summer, such as tomato food, to encourage flowers.
Repotting Large plants in pots should be repotted every few years, into a slightly larger pot. This is best done in spring, when the plant is a more manageable size. If the plant is too big to repot, remove as much compost as you can from the pot and replace with fresh.
Pruning You can prune your plant in late summer if it has become overgrown or you don’t have room to store it. Cut the stems back to within a few centimetres of old wood, and always cut just above a node. You can use the prunings to propagate new plants. Always wear gloves, as the sap can irritate skin.
Move your plant indoors in autumn before night temperatures drop below 10˚C. In winter, you can treat a brugmansia either as a house plant, or as a dormant plant.
If you want to keep brugmansia as a house plant, keep it in a conservatory, heated greenhouse or warm, bright room next to a window. Water once a week and it should stay in leaf – and may even flower – in winter.
If you want to store brugmansia as a dormant plant, put it in a cool, dark place, such as a cellar or shed, that does not go below 7˚C. The plant will lose its leaves and go dormant. In spring, bring it into growth again by bringing it into a warm, bright place and starting to watering it regularly.
Take softwood cuttings from brugmansia in spring and autumn, up to 15cm long. Insert the cuttings into free-draining compost and place in a warm spot.
You can also grow brugmansia from seed in spring. This is best done in using a heated propagator.
Whiteflies are a big problem for brugmansia. Cabbage worms, spider mites, and aphids are also common. Other pests that may appear include cucumber beetles (in the midwestern United States), slugs and snails, fungus gnats (inside), and mealybugs. To treat these pest infestations, use isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol on a cotton ball or cotton swab to dab the insects. Another option, make a spray solution of equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol and spray the plant. You can also treat the plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap to repel pests.
Problems With Brugmansia
This plant requires little care and eventually yields some of the most noteworthy blossoms in the garden, however, brugmansia is susceptible to pests and diseases that can compromise the health and longevity of the plant.
Stunted Plant Growth and Blotches
Mosaic virus and tomato spotted wilt are common viruses that affect plants in the Solanaceae family. They both can cause stunted plant growth and irregular streaking or blotches. Though the plant may survive and bounce back with proper care, these viruses are permanent and cannot be cured. Avoid planting angel trumpets next to heirloom tomatoes or tobacco plants (Nicotiana spp.) to prevent these viruses.
Fusarium and verticillium wilt are two fungal infections. Both fungi affect the roots and travel up the stem, stopping water from entering the plant and causing wilted foliage. Fusarium wilt usually occurs in warm weather, while verticillium is more common in cooler temperatures. There is no cure; you can only manage the disease. The fungi can live in the soil for a long time. The best bet is to start with new plants and new soil.
Blackening Leaves and Smelly Odor
Root rot is a common fungal disease caused by excessive watering. You can prevent root rot by keeping the potting mix moist but never soggy. Decrease watering when temperatures drop in late summer or autumn. Root rot can be deadly, but if caught early enough, you might be able to save the plant. Pull the root ball out of the container; cut away rotten, mushy roots; sterilize the potting container; and plant the healthy portion of root in fresh, well-draining soil.
Brugmansia are most often grown today as flowering ornamental plants.
Brugmansia contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids (atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine) which cause delirium and hallucinations. In modern medicine, these tropane alkaloids found in Brugmansia and other related members of Solanaceae have proven medical value for their spasmolytic, anti-asthmatic, anticholinergic, narcotic, and anesthetic properties, although many of these alkaloids, or their equivalents, are now artificially synthesized.
Brugmansia species have also traditionally been used in many South American indigenous cultures in medical preparations and as an entheogen in religious and spiritual ceremonies. Medicinally, they have mostly been used externally as part of a poultice, tincture, ointment, or where the leaves are directly applied transdermally to the skin. Traditional external uses have included the treating of aches and pains, dermatitis, orchitis, arthritis, rheumatism, headaches, infections, and as an anti-inflammatory.
In the Northern Peruvian Andes, shamans (curanderos) traditionally used Brugmansia species for initiation, divination, and black magic rituals. In some Latin American countries such as Colombia and Peru, members of the genus Brugmansia are reportedly used by malevolent sorcerers or "bad shamans" in some ayahuasca brews in attempt to take advantage of tourists. The species that are typically used for these purposes include Brugmansia suaveolens and Brugmansia arborea among others