Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

Let the trumpets sound!

Producing masses of huge, fragrant flowers in a range of colours, brugmansias are ideal plants for the greenhouse or summer garden

When you grow brugmansias you get a plant with a big reputation.

Spectacular, easy to grow and relatively easy to get hold of, these ‘angel trumpets’ are part of the Solanaceae family which also contains less glamorous tomatoes and potatoes as well as deadly nightshade.

Brugmansias are fantastic small trees to cultivate. They grow super fast, and within three years are mature enough that most trees will be well over your head and putting out tons of big, fragrant flowers.

You’ll find brugmansias at garden centres in spring — usually sold with the annuals.

Brugmansias are not hardy, but if left in the ground and given a mulch during winter, they may come back from ground level.

They are best grown in pots and given protection for the winter.

The plants you have bought need to be potted up into bucket sized pots for summer, use a rich soil something like 50 per cent multipurpose and 50 per cent John Innes number 3, as they are hungry plants.

Keep them watered well in hot weather, they prefer sun but will manage in semi shade.

Spraying the plants under the leaves with a hose will help to keep undesirable insects at bay, best not to do this in hot sunshine, wait till the evening.

When the stems branch they will then usually start to form buds, which will slowly enlarge and the flower will start to unroll. If you have bought a pink brugmansia it will start to look like a yellow flower, but will then change to pink.

When the first frosts are forecast, bring them in under cover, it doesn’t have to be a hot place, just so long as it does not freeze.

The plants can be cut back to aid storing, but try to retain as many forks on the branches. Keep the plants on the dry side.

The following year the plants will need potting into a bigger pot, and then in later years the roots and soil can be cut back by at least half, and new soil added, otherwise you will need bigger and bigger pots to keep it happy.

All parts of the plant should be kept away from children and animals, and they should not be allowed to put any part in the mouth.

You can repot, if necessary, in early spring once growth commences. When it is impractical to increase the pot size, top dress annually by removing a layer of compost and replacing with fresh compost

All parts of the plant are highly toxic if ingested and sap may be an irritant.

Pruning and training

These large shrubs are naturally vigorous, but tolerant of hard pruning. You can cut back to within an inch of older wood, ideally leaving a balanced framework of branches. Carry out pruning annually in October when the plant is moved back indoors.

There are a couple of ways to increase brugmansia;

The easiest method is to propagate from semi-ripe and softwood cuttings about 10-15cm long. Insert cuttings into sandy, free-draining compost with bottom heat of 18-21°C (65-70°F) in spring or late autumn.

Varieties to choose

Brugmansia arborea ‘Knightii’ (maikoa) AGM: has, scented, double, white flowers borne from late spring to autumn.

B. × candida ‘Grand Marnier’ (angel’s trumpet) AGM: bears trumpet-shaped, night-scented apricot flowers up to 30cm (12in) long from summer to autumn. Leaves are large and have wavy margins – up to 60cm (24in) long.

B. suaveolens (snowy angel’s trumpet) AGM: has tubular, bell-shaped, night scented flowers in shades of white, yellow or pink from early summer to autumn.

Top:  Brugmansia arborea ‘Knightii’
Bottom:  Brugmansia ‘Lipstick’

Magazine Archive
Childrens Hospice SW