by Marjie Scharff

"Mom's Apple Tree" by Sarah Sammis, 1996


An impressive small shrubby tree whose beauty truly seems to have been touched by the angels is the Brugmansia, commonly known as Angel's Trumpet. Its gigantic tubular flowers not only reward the eyes, but the nose as well.  The blossoms of the Brugmansia are ten to twelve inches long and hang pendulous in mass profusion in pastel white, peach, pink, or yellow, depending on the variety.  As I look at my beauty on my covered back porch, I see fourteen beautiful flowers all in bloom during the day and night.

Nighttime especially  delights me.  When the stars come out, so does the heady aroma of this tropical diva. I've noticed that when the weather cools down to the 70s, the blooms last for several days.  The searing heat of a Texas summer shortens the length of their bloom time. An unusual observation is that the flowers seem to bloom during the full moon, although not every full moon. They have a resting period between their waves of blossoming.

If you live in growing zones 8 to 10, they can be grown outside on the southern exposure and will be perennial, coming back in the spring from the roots, or they may not freeze at all.  A good idea is to cut the plants back to the ground before the first frost and mulch them deeply with leaves or commercial mulch.  They like filtered sunlight
here in San Antonio, where they can reach 6 to 8 feet tall, but in climates without such fierce sun I understand that they like full sun.  Moist, well drained and fertile soil is preferred.  Fertilize them about twice a month with a well balanced liquid fertilizer containing trace elements. I like Miracle Gro.  They are easily pruned to a desirable height.

Don't lose interest in these gorgeous flower trumpets if you live in a colder climate because you can grow them too with a little trouble. Grow them in a large pot (14"e; is probably as big as you can carry) and set them out in the warm 70 degree weather.

Some people even dig a large hole and plant them pot and all. When it cools down to the low 50s, it's time to bring them in for the winter. If you have a greenhouse, just prune them back to a size that fits and cut back on the water.  If you don't have a greenhouse, they can be moved.

into the house or a garage that stays above freezing and allowed to go dormant by barely watering. The leaves may fall off and it won't be a pretty sight, but you are just keeping it alive until it can be set out in the warmth again.

These beauties are easy to root from cuttings.  A very large branch broke off mine and I just stuck it into a pot of soil, thinking I would get back to it and cut four inch segments for rooting later.  I never got back to it; and the whole, huge branch never missed a beat, but rooted well!  A friend of mine has good luck just rooting them in water. I'm going to try that too.  I bet you should let the cut dry out a little (as you do geraniums) before putting them in the water.

A word of caution: all parts of the Brugmansia are poisonous. It is a member of the Solanaceae family which contains the Deadly Nightshade as well as the tomato, potato and eggplant.
Southern Perennials and Herbs  < lists the following

Brugmansia for sale: 

"Double White" growing to 6' tall, huge, double,white trumpets
"Ecuador Pink" limited availability
"Charles Grimaldi" huge, pendulous, fragrant salmon trumpets
"Orange" light orange trumpets in the late summer and fall to 6' tall "Jamaican Yellow" limited availability
"Suaveolens" white, pendulous trumpets in fall "Versicolor" flowers white, turning apricot-peach with age.

Sorry, but they cannot ship to California.

Happy growing dreams of springtime,

Email: Marjie Scharff

Winter Moondance Gardening Column by Marjie Scharff

The Old Farmer's Almanac -
At this site you will enjoy the well known features of the Farmer's Almanac that has been published yearly since 1792.  The Gardener's Companion has tips for all from the beginner to the expert, frost charts for the US and Canada and the outdoor planting table, along with uncommon answers to common gardening questions.  Their section, Heavenly Details, provides dates and locations of solar and lunar eclipse as well as days of the full moon. From the archives of the Farmer's Almanac you will enjoy traditional crafts, historical esays and seasonal recipes. There is a little bit for everyone at this site.

Marjie Scharff loves the quiet communication and beauty of plants. Many of her favorites have lived with her for over 25 years, along with assorted rocks and bits of smooth wood. She lives on two acres in San Antonio, Texas with deer, skunks, squirrels, raccoons and hawks. She is a member of the San Antonio Botanical Society and the Bexar County Master Gardeners.

Marjie invites you to write to her at .

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