Friday, September 23rd, 2011...12:00 am

Brugmansia – My Little Shop of Horrors Plant


Brugmansia by mythlady

As I wrote in a previous post, I get a daily bit of pleasure going out to my garden to see what is in bloom. Today it is my Brugmansia that is in bloom. And when I say, in bloom, I mean it is exploding with flowers.

Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’ #1 by J.G. in S.F.

I consider my Brugmansia my “Little Shop of Horrors” plant. (check out the movie if you haven’t seen it) My Brugmansia tries to dictate my life. Instead of saying “feed me” it constantly screams, “Water me.” This is not a plant for a drought region. It must have kept my property from flooding during the hurricane, sucking up all the water that poured down. I am just kidding, but knowing how much water this plant likes, maybe there is a kernal of truth in it. If I let a day go by without watering the brugmansia, the huge leaves tell me by drooping or turning yellow.

The brugmansia loves fertilizer, especially when it is growing. And mine seems happiest with a lot of phosphorus in the fertilizer. I give it the highest phosphorus fertilizer I have and my brugmansia provides me with flowers, dozens and dozens of them. One of my brugmansia’s grandchildren provides loads of flowers for its owner who gives it lots of Osmocote fertilizer. (I do not keep in touch with other of my brugmansia’s grandchildren though I have two brugmansia children living here who haven’t given me any flowers. I haven’t fertilized them that much and I heard that they may take 3 years before they flower. See here.

The Brugmansia does not like cold weather, so it must be brought in if there is any chance of frost. It is a tropical that grows best in gardens in temperature hardiness zones 9-11. So once again it is a tyrant telling me to take it into my living room since I have no garage nor outbuildings. And since it grows so large when it is outdoors, it takes a strong back to dig it up and carry it indoors even after I have hacked it in half to fit through the front door and root cut it to fit back into the largest plastic pot I own. Some people leave it in a pot and do not put it in the ground when they put it outdoors. I am lucky to have the help of a strong young man who plants my brugmansia in the ground each year.

When I bring my Brugmansia indoors, it usually will bloom indoors. But it seems that most years when I bring it indoors the Brugmansia is a target for white flies that put an end to any flowers. That is upsetting, but makes me add the insect experience in the “Little Shop of Horrors” category.

That being said, I find it all worthwhile putting up with this monster when it finally blooms. The flowers are spectacular. There is a reason that the common name for this plant is Angel’s trumpet. If the plant did not reward me in such a magnificent way, there would be no reason for me to keep it. But the show of flowers with the fragrance of baby powder is breathtaking.


Photo of a Brugmansia in TheGardenLady’s Garden taken by Maureen

If you would like a Brugmansia and know someone who has one or if you have one and want to give friends a plant, it is very easy to propagate. When I cut my plant in half in the fall before I bring it indoors, I cut off small branches from the thicker branches and stick these small branches in water. They usually root. I discard those that don’t and am usually left with enough rooted Brugmansias to give to lots of friends. That was how I got mine in the first place. They are so easy to root, that I know one horticulturist who now has a hedge of them. He has a heated greenhouse so he can bring lots of them in to overwinter. They can be grown in light shade as well as sun when placed outdoors in the late spring after the last frost.

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