Brugmansias forum: Keeping Brugmansia alive outside during winter?

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Antwerp, Belgium
Sep 26, 2018 7:23 AM CST

This year I wanted to take the risk trying to keep a brugmansia outside for the winter, not in a pot but in the plain soil.

For years I have about 5 plant which go indoors during winter but at a friend's garden I saw one that (partially) survived and became an impressive plant
the next summer.

A friend of mine covered the plant with drapings of jute and when the frost was really hard he also put a perforated garbage
bag over it which was removed when temperatures got higher. This was a partial success. All the branches were dead by frost
but the stem survived for about 30cm. The plant grew into the biggest and most flowery plant he ever had.

Yesterday, I planted the plant outside and covered the soil with leaves, cut grass and hay to at least already cover the roots.
I'll try to send pictures along so you can see how it's like.

Do you, as specialists have any advice to give me the best chance to do this?

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Name: Michael
Coastal SE GA (Zone 9a)
Sep 26, 2018 5:22 PM CST
I personally think it would have been better to plant the brugmansia outside early in the year so it could get established before winter and have some nice roots develop. They are winter hardy where I live but will die back almost to the ground. I cut mine off before winter to about the same height as yours and then mulch them good for winter. I have been told to leave that much of a stump and not to cut them back to ground level. Last year we had a colder than normal winter with snow and ice and they survived but very slow to come back this spring. I am not sure of the normal winter lows in Antwerp but I imagine you are on the borderline for survival. Mulch it as much as possible and hope for the best.
Antwerp, Belgium
Sep 27, 2018 12:39 AM CST
Thanks emddvm for your reply.

When it's -5°C over here it's called very cold. The lowest temperature over here are about -10°C.
But cold periods never last longer than a few days.

And indeed, I had better done this in spring to give the plant the summer to develop more in general but
call that a combination of my impulsivity en stubborness.... Sticking tongue out

An off-topic question: I didn't get an e-mail to let me know someone reacted on my post, although
I think the preferences in my profile are correct to get notifications. Maybe you know why?
Name: Michael
Coastal SE GA (Zone 9a)
Sep 27, 2018 6:01 PM CST
I am not very knowledgeable on how this website works but you could ask this question on the site talk forum.
It may be because I didn't do this in the response.
I do think your temps would be very borderline although mine survived 20 Fahrenheit for 2 nights last year but it was well rooted.
I know what you mean about "spur of the moment decisions". I have made a bunch in my life.
Antwerp, Belgium
Oct 23, 2018 2:02 PM CST
This was the original plant in the summer:

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This is how it looks now :

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I made a round "fence" of chicken wire and filled it up with dry cut/mulched wood(I don't know the exact word).
The soil around is also covered with about 30cm(1 foot) of the same wooden "stuff".
As you see I put a roof over it to keep the wood quite dry to stop mould or anything like that.

When frost is expected, I have a cover especially made to protect plants from frost
but lets air through at the same time.

When frost is expected for a longer period of time or when it's getting colder
I'll cover it all with blankets and eventually with plastic.

These covers go off as soon frost is over to let air back in.

I realise it's a gamble but what can you loose? One plant, that's all.
I already have 3 clippings from that plant with roots on them.

On another (Dutch)forum someone had a plant frozen to death
except for the roots. It started growing again in spring and bloomed
the same season. What you have is a little plant with the root system
of a big one, growth was quite spectacular!

[Last edited by Wimsomnia - Oct 23, 2018 2:15 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1842077 (5)
Name: Michael
Coastal SE GA (Zone 9a)
Oct 23, 2018 4:26 PM CST
A lot of people protect banana trees the same way. Including me. The trunk will rot if it is too cold but it gives a lot of protection for the base and the roots. Maybe it will work for you. It looks like it might.

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