A Stroll Through the Garden: Angel’s trumpet revisited
A friend of mine and reader asked me a question about this beautiful flowering shrub she saw on the edge of Jeromesville a few years ago. The plant was growing in a large pot and had the biggest, trumpet-shaped blooms she had ever seen, and were there yet again this past summer.
I had seen this same huge shrub on many trips I made driving to Mansfield. She asked me what it was and what I could tell her about it. The plant was at least 8 feet and maybe 10 feet tall with maybe 18-24-inch beige flowers, while another had pink trumpet flowers.
My parents had two different angel’s trumpets, or Brugmansia spp, for at least 10 years. One was a pink flower and the other was a white flower. These were both fairly easy to grow for my parents and the white-blossomed plant had a very pleasant, sweet scent with a little lemon overtone during the summer evenings. My parents said they liked the plants, but it was a challenge for them to constantly haul the small tree into the house each season. The ones my parents kept were 4-6 feet tall.
The good and the bad about angel's trumpet
There are good things and bad things about this beautiful plant. The angel’s trumpet is a member of the nightshade family, which means it can be poisonous. Some plant experts consider the angel’s trumpet the most poisonous plant of all tropical plants. Let’s not sugarcoat this fact. If you eat even small amounts of the plant as an adult, you could die a very painful death. Personally, I want to spare you the way the tropane alkaloids affect a person who has eaten any portion of this plant. But these alkaloids are called scopolamine, atropine and hyoscyamine.
One of the other things we need to know is most of the alkaloids are serious medicines in the hands of our doctors when applied properly. As I have said, my parents kept two different angel’s trumpets for over 10 years and had all kinds of grandkids and great-grandkids around the plants and never had any poisonous plant problems. Besides, most kids know not to eat tomato plants and just eat the tomato. Don’t let the kids play with the plants. All said and done I would use caution as I would care for this plant, and wear gloves. The rewards are an incredible flower and an amazing scent. I remember the challenges and the rewards were worth it for me.
The angel’s trumpet is a heavy feeder and does the best with organic fertilizers. My parents found they did the best with worm castings and kelp as a bi-weekly mild fertilizing routine. Best thing to keep in mind is this plant will produce a large bloom and will need fed. These small to medium trees grow from 3-35 feet tall in its native areas of Chile to Argentina. From the latest information this plant is extinct in their native ranges.
When we grow these plants in pots, you will have to prune it. Tomatoes and angel’s trumpet are both easy to start from cuttings, which means starts or cuttings should root fairly easily. Therefore, you can pass out cuttings fairly easily and have new ones to back it up.
It's a chore to move them in and out, but there are other options
I remember moving these 5-foot trees in through my parent’s front door, through the dining room, through the hall and into the living room. After 35-plus years of doing this sort of thing, we have developed systems for moving the plants, but it never was super easy. Because this plant does root so easily, if you could root them in the spring, you wouldn’t have to drag them into the house every winter, if you start them from cuttings.
I’m given to understand, if you can, store your cutting 2 feet below the frost line in peat moss at least 4 inches deep all of the way around the cuttings. You can keep them outside during the summer. My Facebook friend Lisa Nassal and Brugmansia expert said there is a potential we could grow these trees outside in the soil in Ohio all year.
According to folklore, it’s said Brugmansia can be used to encourage communication with the dead. When the trumpet points down, it draws the dead out of the grave. And if you sleep under a Brugmansia plant, you can’t wake up because the angels will come for you. It’s more likely the effects of its fragrance that creates a problem.
I hope you have a nice stroll through your garden this week. If you have any questions, let me know by email at email@example.com. You can find links at my website to my various blogs which are converted columns at ohiohealthyfoodcooperative.org.
Eric Larson of Jeromesville is a veteran landscaper and gardening enthusiast and a founding board member of the Ohio Chapter of Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Things to know about angel's trumpet or Brugmansia