Brugmansia FAQ

What are Brugmansias?

Commonly called Angels trumpets, Brugmansia are fast-growing, large shrubs or small trees that are grown for their large trumpet shaped, heavily scented flowers which can be double or single. The flowers can be white, yellow, orange or pink and the scent is strongest in the evenings. They originate from South America.

Are they hardy?

They may survive a very mild winter in a sheltered garden but generally they will sucumb to frost outdoors. Although they’ll take a few degrees of occasional frost it’s best to place them in a greenhouse or conservatory for winter. Many people store them in the garage or shed but this is more risky in a severe winter.

How big and how fast will they grow?

Brugmansias are extremely fast growing – a cutting can reach 3m in 3 years and produce a mass of flowers. They are capable of growing to 8m or more but most gardeners will keep them below this height to accommodate them in the winter.

Will they grow in pots?

They’re heavy feeders and also need copious amounts of water in the summer, but as long as their needs are met it’s perfectly possible to get really good results with pot grown specimens. A 50/50 mix of peat based compost and JI no. 3 is ideal.

Can they be planted in the ground?

Yes – they do brilliantly in the ground and require far less maintenance. They shouldn’t be planted outdoors until late May. In late autumn the branches can be cut back and they can be lifted and potted ready for winter storage.

What sort of soil is best?

A fertile, humus rich, moist but free-draining soil will keep them happy.

Do they need lots of sun?

Not necessarily. In fact full sun can be detrimental to them and in a very hot summer they may lose their flower buds. Part sun/part shade is ideal.

How often should you feed them?

Brugmansia are hungry plants and require feeding at least weekly during the growing season. 3 times a week is ideal. They are related to tomatoes and tomato fertiliser seems to do the job very well.

Do they just flower once a year?

They actually flower many times throughout the year, in 4 to 6 week flushes, even through the winter months under glass. A healthy, mature plant can produce a flush of several hundred flowers in the summer months, especially in late summer/early autumn. Less in winter.

I’ve bought a pink flowering Brugmansia but the flowers are yellow. Have I been sent the wrong one?

Curiously the buds look yellow until they open and then magically turn pink.

How long must I wait until I get flowers?

Brugmansia grow a straight trunk and once a certain size they form a Y division or fork. The flowers grow from branches arising from this Y. Our plants are sold as cuttings taken from branches above this fork and therefore contain adult cells. They will often fork and flower in their first year.

I’ve had my Brug a couple of years now and although it does flower it hasn’t produced the magnificent display I was hoping for. Should I feed it more?

Like most plants, Brugmansias need to reach a certain level of maturity and grow a reasonable size root ball before they produce a spectacular show. This may take between 3 and 5 years.

My leaves turn yellow and drop off. Why?

Brugmansia are very prone to red spider mite, particularly in summer if grown under glass. A good routine is to spray weekly with a product that contains fatty acids (SB Invigorator, Soapy water) and use biological control under glass. Over feeding with a high nitrogen fertilizer can also cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop. Although best avoided they usually recover quickly from this.

My leaves are being eaten but I can’t see any caterpillars or slugs. What other creatures eat them?

Some caterpillars are green and difficult to spot on the leaves so make sure you check thoroughly and pick any off that you spot. Others only come out at night so check them over with a torch when it’s dark. Earwigs can chew the leaves, and whilst they don’t do enough damage to harm the plants, it can look unsightly. Place an upturned jam jar stuffed with straw amongst the branches and leave overnight. The earwigs, after their midnight feast, will sleep inside the jar and you can dispose of them in the morning.

Are Brugmansias poisonous?

Brugmansias are well-known for their hallucinogenic properties and are used in Shamanic rituals. The effects are said to be ‘terrifying rather than pleasurable’. No part of the plant is safe to eat. It’s unlikely that children or pets will attempt to eat them but it’s important to be aware of their toxicity.