The Q&A Archives: Plant Name

Question: I am trying to identify plants in the garden of my new home. There is a beautiful 6 foot tall tree/shrub with large pink trumpet shaped blossoms. It was still blooming in October but is dormant and bare now in February. I've been told it is called an Angel's Trumpet (or Fermontia?) but I cannot locate it in any of my books. Do you have any suggestions? I want to know its scientific name and how to care for it (i.e., how far back to prune it before spring).

Answer: Your idea of identifying all the plants in your garden is an excellent one! Especially if you put on your detective cap and find the Latin or botanical name for each. The problem with common names is that they often mean different things to different people. 'Angel's Trumpet' usually refers to Datura also known as Brugmansia. The flowers can be white, orange, or frosty white. When your plant flowers again, take a flowering stem to a local nursery or Master Gardener clinic and ask for a positive identification. If it is Brugmansia, you can expect it to grow into a 12'-15' shrub (or it can be trained into a small tree). Prune it in early spring to encourage new flowering stems. You can safely prune back about one-third of the live material without affecting the health of your shrub. Remember that every stem you prune will probably develop two new stems just behind the cut. Think about how bushy you want your plant and where the new growth will appear. You can take some of the branches/stems back to the main trunk or stem, or just prune the tips off of the branches. Brugmansia grows in sun or shade and needs regular watering during growth and flowering periods. Plan to supply one-inch of water per week to the root zone during these times.

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