Last week, we talked about the two white-flowered night-blooming plants known as moon flowers, in honor of the first moonwalk. One of them, devil’s trumpet ( Datura metel ), is closely related to today’s gardening column subject, the angel’s trumpet ( Brugmansia species).
A tender perennial woody plant with large, trumpet-shaped flowers, Brugmansia flowers point down, while the devil’s trumpet points up. Most of the cultivars (cultivated varieties) of angel’s trumpet are winter hardy in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina (USDA hardiness zone 8a). All they ask for is a sunny spot in the yard or garden, with well-drained soil.
The upright plant has large leaves, in contrast to the sprawling devil’s trumpet plant.
Both the angel’s and devil’s trumpets can be easily grown from cuttings, so the best way to get one is from a fellow gardener who is willing to share. After the plants have bloomed (but before frost comes), you cut those thick stems down to the ground and stick them in a bucket to share with friends and neighbors.
The cut stems can be stored in a garage or crawl space until the warm days of spring. Roots will grow over the winter and when the soil is nice and warm (about mid-May), you can take them out from their hiding place, plant in a soil-less mix (“potting soil”) and keep in the shade. Once roots have filled the pot, replant them into a bigger pot or a sunny location in the garden.
The flowers of angel’s trumpets come in many colors, ranging from white, yellow, gold, and salmon to pink. If you catch the “Brugmansia Bug,” there are and specialty nurseries that will cater to your desires for “one of each” and societies that meet and share their prized cuttings for collectors that want to have at least one of every possible flower color and combination.
Many varieties of angel’s trumpets tend to bloom late in the summer, just as students are getting ready to go back to school. A few years ago, though, I had one that was growing in too much shade, so it was in full bud just as the first frost was coming to kill off the leaves. How odd it looked with those beautiful bells hanging down on totally leafless stems the next day!
Once established in the ground, the roots will usually overwinter and the plant will grow back next year. To be sure, keep angel’s trumpets in a pot to bring into that garage or crawl space before frost hits, or put a thick layer of mulch over plants in the ground.
Just like the devil’s trumpet, all parts of this plant are poisonous to humans and animals. It is resistant to browsing by deer and fairly resistant to salt spray, so angel’s trumpet is great plant to bring to your beach house. Enjoy them while you can, as summer fades into fall.
Trish DeHond is the home horticulture agent and Master Gardener coordinator for Clemson Extension in Darlington and Florence counties. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.