Brugmansia arborea (brug-MAN-see-ah ar-BO-ree-ah)
Sun to part shade
HEIGHT: 5 – 15'
SPREAD: 5 - 6'
SPACING: 6' – 7'
HABIT: Shrubby perennial or small tree with large bright green leaves, large dramatic hanging trumpet shaped flowers in many colors. Flowers are fragrant and bloom from spring to fall. Fragrance is most noticeable in the evening.
CULTURE: Best in rich organic soils and in area protected from the wind. Normal water, heavy fertilization for best flower production.
USES: Summer color and garden fragrance. Good in containers.
PROBLEMS: Wind damage when exposed. Will drop leaves and flowers if allowed to get dry.
NOTES: These plants are closely related to Datura. Will grow in shady places but will not bloom well. "Grimaldii" is one of the toughest and most dependable perennial form.
WARNING: Consumption of any part of the plant may result in severe anticholinergic toxicity. In past years, toxicity has largely resulted from accidental ingestion, but in 1994 there was a ten-fold increase in the number of reported ingestions throughout the state of Florida, largely by persons experimenting with the plant for its hallucinogenic effects.
All parts of the plant are toxic. Symptoms may include intense thirst, difficulty with speech and swallowing, vomiting and diarrhea, fever, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, dilated pupils, seizures and coma. Deaths have occurred. The perfume can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea, and light-headedness. Eye contact with the sap may cause dilated pupils and temporary blindness.
Nothing evokes the feeling of the deep-south and New Orleans to me like the smell of Brugmansia on a warm fall night. There is just something tropical and lush about a plant with flowers a foot long and 6-to-8 inches across.
I first encountered Brugmansia many years ago on a trip to New Orleans in October. Walking by the enclosed courtyards of the French Quarter I smelled the most wonderful fragrance, and like any good plantsmen I went hunting for the source. Entering a private garden uninvited I came face to ace with a 10 ft. tall plant literally dripping with golden orange trumpets. It was horticulture lust at first site. I purchased my first plants via the internet before I even boarded a plane to come home to Texas. Those first plants still adorn my yard to this day.
Brugmansia are the consummate plant for the "tropical look". These South American natives always stop traffic at my home when they are in full bloom, and I am often asked the "are they real?" question. Angel's Trumpet makes an excellent container plant. When the 5-to-8-ft. tall plants are in full bloom, they are best enjoyed late in the evening while sitting on the porch. Flowers open fully as evening approached and as an added bonus, Hawk moths seem to come from miles around to buzz around.