How to Grow and Care for Angel's Trumpets

Introduction to Brugmansia

Prized for the huge, pendulous flowers, brugmansias are tropical shrubs or small trees that bloom from summer into autumn. Commonly called angel’s trumpets for the flared, trumpet-shaped flowers, these fast-growing plants are showstoppers in the garden, in containers, and indoors. 

About Brugmansias

There are a handful of species in the genus Brugmansia. Native to Central and South America, the plants no longer exist in the wild; however, there are hundreds of cultivated varieties available to home gardeners. Flower colors include white, orange, yellow, and pink, and most have a pleasing tropical scent that’s most noticeable in the evening. During peak flushes of bloom the plants are dripping with stunning, downward-facing flowers that range from 4” to 10” long, depending on the variety.  

When grown outdoors in tropical climates, the vigorous, long-lived plants can reach up 30’ tall, though the plants remain smaller when grown in containers. In some tropical and subtropical regions brugmansias are considered invasive; check your region’s invasive plant list.

Note: Brugmansias are in the nightshade family (Solanaceae) and, like many others in the family, the leaves, stems, and other plant parts contain alkaloids and are highly toxic if ingested; keep the plants away from children and pets. Also, the sap can irritate skin, so wear gloves when handling them.

Pronunciation: broog-MAN-see-uh

Growing Zones for Brugmansia 

Most brugmansias are hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11, although some varieties are somewhat hardier, especially if mulched over the winter. In temperate regions where the plants aren’t hardy, they can be grown as annuals. Alternatively, container-grown plants can be overwintered indoors.

Choosing a Site to Grow Brugmansias

Select a planting location in part to full sun. If growing in full sun, provide some shade during the hottest part of the day. A location protected from wind will prevent damage to the extravagant foliage and blooms. Brugmansias require soil that stays consistently moist but not saturated. Plan ahead to ensure easy access to a water supply so you can water daily or as needed during hot weather.

If planting in a container, choose one that’s at least 18” in diameter and fill it with a light potting mix that drains freely. Growing in a container gives gardeners in temperate climates the option of moving the plant indoors in winter. The stately plants are ideal for patios and decks where you can enjoy their beauty and scent.

Planting Instructions for Brugmansia

Loosen soil to a depth of at least 12" and amend it with compost to improve water retention. Mix in some slow-release granular fertilizer to provide a steady supply of nutrients. After planting, apply an organic mulch, such as bark mulch or pine straw, to conserve water, taking care to keep it a few inches from the stems to minimize disease problems. During their first growing season, water plants weekly or as needed to keep soil evenly moist. 

Fertilizer for Brugmansia

Brugmansias grow quickly and vigorously and need plenty of fertilizer to support that growth. In addition to compost and slow-release granular fertilizer, the plants — especially those growing in containers — may need weekly supplemental feeding with a soluble fertilizer. Avoid overfertilizing with high-nitrogen fertilizers, which encourage foliage growth at the expense of flowers. 

Brugmansia Pests and Problems

Brugmansias are relative pest-free, though they can be attacked by aphids and other small pests, which can be controlled with insecticidal soap. Although the plants need plenty of water, they can suffer from root rot in saturated soils. 

Ongoing Care for Brugmansia

Brugmansias may need daily watering during hot weather; if the soil is allowed to dry the plant may wilt. Self-watering planters are a good choice because they provide a consistent supply of water as long as you keep the reservoir full.

Brugmansias will begin to decline when if temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. In climates outside their hardiness zones, you can grow them as annuals and purchase new plants each spring. Or you can bring the plants indoors during the winter. If overwintering indoors you have two options: Grow them as houseplants in a warm spot with bright light or cut back on watering and allow the plants to go dormant in a cool (but not freezing), dark location. 

Some popular Angel's Trumpets photos:
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