Monday, August 9, 2010

Brugmansia Mania

Most of you who have read my blog for more than a post or two know I live in an area that can support tropicals for the most part, but that growing up north of here, I don't really have an affinity for the vast majority of them.    We all have our likes and dislikes, and some of my favorite bloggers *gasp* hate coneflowers, which is as difficult to comprehend as the infinite space of the universe for me.    Aside from houseplants which can grow back each year without coming inside, I only have one tropical love: the Brugmansia. 

It actually started in Charleston, when I was walking around one September and came upon this small tree literally coated in foot long tubular blooms.  The thing looked exactly like a Dr. Seuss tree in Seussville.   I wish I had taken a picture of it, but I didn't.  It looked something like this.

I somehow can also see each of the tubes playing like trumpets ala Alice in Wonderland.  I had to have one.

I bought the very first one I ran across, about 1 foot tall, and a tiny sprig of a tree, in April.   By May it was 4 feet tall, straight as an arrow, looking like a 4 foot tall woody weed.   A few cuttings were taken off for relatives, which also rooted easily, but no flowers, and no branches.   Then came July.  The base had sprouted out a new limb, and the main stalk, now over 5 feet tall had V'd.  Or more correctly W'd, and within a week of this happening I had 13 blooms on the thing in quick succession.

Mine was growing in the middle of my patio until early July when I decided that it had to move into some shade.   It was flowering, yes, but the leaves were also burning and turning a not right very light shade of green, despite DAILY watering.  So he's been moved until the end of September to the spot I have reserved for my statue that only exists in my imagination.    Now I only have to water him every other day, and the leaves are turning green again.

Here's a picture of a 4 month old Brugmansia (ignore burnt leaves please).  I can't wait til next season when I move him up a pot size and he becomes a real tree.



  1. Beautiful! I dream of having enough space to create a Dr. Seuss garden (a garden of unusual looking plants) and this would be the star attraction.

  2. Looks like your Brugmansia is well on his way to being a very handsome tree Jess. Welcome back to the blogosphere by the way!

  3. Jess, I first saw Brugmansia (in that same gorgeous yellow color) last September at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and I immediately fell in love with it. No chance of my being tempted to try growing it in Maine, though! :-) -Jean

  4. He is marvelous! Is he fragrant, too? They are only annuals here unless one has a space to overwinter them indoors, and with seven cats, I don't want to take the chances on them chewing on one. But I get to admire those of others...

  5. Dear Jess, I too very much favour Brugmansia [or Datura as I think that they were once called] and was instrumental in persuading the former British Ambassador to Hungary to grow them in pots on the south facing terrace of the Residence where they remain. Yours are wonderful and would certainly take all the prizes.

  6. I have never grown brugmansia but have considered it. I like the look of it. Perhaps it would do well in semi-shade for me. I think it could add some real charm to my garden. Thanks for your post!

  7. I had no idea these were trees! Van Dusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver, BC had this plant and I thought it was just a small shrub -perhaps it's just smaller in a colder climate? The only information I have retained about this gorgeous plant is not to fall asleep underneath one or you'll be sprinkled with their dust and may never wake up.

  8. Hi everyone! Its nice to 'see' you again!

    CSV - Thanks, its fun to be back.

    Jodi- I should have added that Brugmansia's are extremely fragrant. The blooms last about a week (unless you stress them out, which I have accidentally done), and start off pale yellow and slowly morph to a peachy color. They have 'waves' of blooms is the best way to put it, from what I can tell. Then it takes a break, and a month later another wave. They do seem to root really easily, so that could be a solution to your annual/pet problem. Just take a small cutting inside during the winter, away from the cats!

    I have the same issue with the cats indoors thing. They really are rather poisonous, and I worry about it. Fortunately I can just leave mine outside, though I am planning on moving him next to the house during the winter.

    Jean - my mom took a cutting of mine and is going to attempt to bring this inside during the winter. I can let you know how it goes.

    Deb - They are easy to grow in that if you water it, it will grow. They are hard in the fact that if you don't water it every other day it is not happy. I think in the south it probably does better in semi shade then the sun. Since I moved him, he isn't growing as fast, but his leaves are looking a lot better.

    Bonnie - I say just stick one in a pot.. I think they will stay smaller in smaller pots. Mine is 6 feet tall in a 10 gallon pot.

    Edith - hi there. I think its amazing how few of these you actually see in places, they are so cool, and until I saw one and researched it, I'd never even heard of it.

  9. Marguerite - Datura, its cousin I believe stays much more in the bush category. The blooms which look very similar are upright though, instead of nodding. I think pretty much all Brugmansias turn into small trees (like max 20 feet tall I think) unless pretty potbound. Mine is still growing like weeds in a 10 gallon pot, and will probably be 10 feet tall before the end of the season. Ones in the ground definitely get to that tree category, and quickly too.

  10. that plant is wickedly gorgeous - and i've always been kind of scared of it! is it true that it's deadly poisonous? even if it is, i don't suppose it attacks people. lol. maybe i shouldn't worry so much.

  11. You're back!!!

    Gorgeous plant, by the way.

    I'm just so happy to see you back, Jess, I can't focus on much else. I still have you in my RSS reader, and I hardly ever check on your blog anymore, thought you'd hung it up for good. It's wonderful to be wrong. :D

  12. Daricia - I think its poisonous nature is wildly exaggerated. I think you just can't eat it. You can't eat azaleas either, but you don't hear anyone touting their deadly effects.

    Meredith - :) Glad to see you too! I just needed a break because I really had waay to much going on, something had to give. I was always planning on coming back, it just took me a lot longer than expected!

  13. Hi Jess, I just saw your above comment about the poisonous nature of the plant. I agree that it is the work of the overly dramatic. Many, many plants in our gardens [foxglove, aconitum, potatoes, tomatoes, rhubarb for example have inedible parts. We just have to watch what goes into our mouth.

    I've grown brugmansia off and on for years. It doesn't winter successfully outdoors in these parts and when brought indoors tends to be a whitefly or aphid magnet. Fortunately my favorite nursery sells rooted cuttings for a song so I can start fresh each spring.

    Your lemon yellow version is a beauty for sure. I like the tip about keeping the leaves out of direct sun. I'll remember it.

  14. Its funny, I'll grow toxic coral bean, blood lilies and gloriosa lilies, but refuse to plant the toxic angels trumpet. I guess they're just bigger and more likely to be brushed against.

    I love your blog design and header. I'm guessing that you did the background since the header is custom made... even if you didn't it was an excellent choice and provides a nice and elegant feel.

  15. I really like the way you call your plant he/him. Does he have a name?

  16. Jess,
    Saw your blog when searching for some different brug colors to grow. I currently grow Dr. Suess and Charles Grimaldi which are my favorites. I have an unnamed white, but unfortunately lost my pink last year while it was stored away for the winter in the cellar. My three oldest ones I have had around 12 -13 years.

    One thing about them for sure... they love plant food when they are actively growing... I don't hink you can over feed them.

    I've had several over the years but have never had any adverse reaction to the plant poison-wise nor have my pets. Yes they are toxic, but very few people have a reaction to them.... now I would not eat them...

  17. Brugs are just too cool. Even though the plant itself is a bit awkward, it all seems to come together when it starts blooming.