Brugmansia And Datura

Breathtaking, awesome and even fantastic are the remarks that can be heard when folks see these remarkable plants. 

But to this day there is a great confusion over these plants that at one time were classified under the same genus of datura. In the 1970’s, each were given its own genus and it has been a task to educate folks to the differences, especially in the European countries where they are still being called datura.Brugmansia, originally/commonly known as Angel’s Trumpet, are the tree/shrub forms that can be traced back to the Inuit American Indians and can be found all the way south, into the mountains of South America. It has the downward facing bell shaped flowers, hence the name of Angel Trumpets. Their seedpods can range from a round shape to being elongated like a bean pod; it just depends on the variety.

The brugmansia seeds do come in a corky seed coat and there is a trick to get them started. One needs to soak the seeds in very warm water for at least 48 hours, changing the water a few times a day to be able to peel them. It is recommended that you place these on top of a refrigerator where the water will stay warmer longer. If the seeds are fresh, a shorter period of time could be used. You should handle with care as some may sprout in this time period.

When talking about varieties of brugmansias, these are the major ones; B. arborea, B. candida, B. sanguinea, B. Vulcanicolas, B. suaveolens, B. insignis, B. aurea, and B. versicolor. As new hybrids are created, this list is expanding with the creations we are now seeing. B. x flave, for example, is the cross of B. Aborea X B Sanguinea. Yet another new hybrid of B. vulcanicola called ‘Roter Vulkan is the deepest red one can find.

Each variety has its own growing habits and before you make a purchase it is wise to know what conditions are needed for the one you are about to purchase. We have many German hybridizers to thank for their work and breathtaking doubles; and to Terra Nova Nursery here in the states for their first tissue culture/patented plant called B. Snowbank.

While we haven’t seen that purple brugmansia that folks dream about, we hope this will someday happen.Brugmansia is one plant that will take all the fertilizer that you give it. It will reward you with breathtaking evening-scented trumpet flowers.

These are night bloomers and related to the nightshade/solanaceae family. Yes, these are extremely poisonous. In some areas of the country, some municipalities have even gone to great lengths to ban them. If you decide to grow these, please use good judgment and do handle these with care as they are not to be taken lightly.A multi purpose/NPK formula fertilizer is recommended, but there are some growers who have learned to push these plants to produce hundreds of blooms in their second or even third flush by feeding our brugmansia a higher middle number/phosphorus, which produces blooms.

Some growers will also feed their plants rose or time release fertilizers. You must know your plants before you try any of these methods.As someone who does play with her plants, I have learned that by feeding them a higher first number/nitrogen during the first month, I can obtain height. I then switch for the second month to the higher middle number/phosphorus for blooms.

Then I move to an overall formula fertilizer for the third month. After that, I stop all feeding so that the plant can go into its dormant stage for the winter (we overwinter ours in their own Brug house with the temps set into the mid 40’s range).

The Datura

The datura, like its cousin the brugmansia, is also night blooming and is just as poisonous. Datura is also known as Thorn Apple or Devil’s Trumpet, as the bloom will head upwards.

It is more of an annual according to some resources. Yet, I have seen several daturas return from their roots following a mild winter here in the PNW. Given the right conditions, they can shoot upwards of over 6 feet. These too were found in nearly the same areas as the brugmansia, but this plant needs a richer soil that allows the roots to grow freely.

Datura will not take as much fertilizer as the brugmansia will and is not suited for the heavy clay soils found in some areas.When looking at the seedpods of any datura you will find that they do have spines on their rounded shapes.

Some of these spines are so sharp and plentiful that you may need gloves to handle them.
Unlike brugmansia seeds, daturas do not come in a corky shell. They appear to be more like tomato seeds.

Unlike the short list of varieties of the brugmansia, datura’s list is well over 40 varieties and growing.

If you have a limited space, one might try the datura metal ‘Ballerina’ varieties for their small compact growth.

Viruses, Insects and Quarantine

Word of caution: please know your growers or nurseries if you are going to grow either brugsmansia or datura. Besides being poisonous and virus-prone (fungal, leaf spot, stalk wilt, mosaic-like disease to even cork growths), you should know what insects bother these lovely ladies.

Mites – especially spider, aphids, whitefly and fruit gnats are fairly common. They also attract caterpillars and snails. The funny thing is, I haven’t seen a single caterpillar or snail drop dead at the feet of any brug after destroying one.

Some brugs do carry a virus and if not properly cared for it can pop up at a moment’s notice. So if you suspect a virus, please destroy the plant right away as to not infect other brugmansias or plants. Most important, do not toss infected parts onto the compost pile. Do not trade or pass along any plant that isn’t completely healthy.

The wisest thing is to do is to quarantine your plants for a period of 6 to 9 months after discovering a virus-infected plant.While we are talking about virus and trading or even purchasing, it is time to weigh in on a quarantine process that one should have setup for all new arrivals to your collection.

Do you just buy and plant? In the case of brugmansia and daturas it is best to place all plants or cuttings in quarantine for a few months before adding them to your garden. This is a good rule of thumb to use for any plant even if you do know and trust the nursery or person you are trading with. The only safe way is to grow brugmansia and datura is from seed.

If you unsure of the seed source, you can dip the seeds in a bleach mix of 1 part bleach with 9 parts water.

More Research and Joining Organizations

I would recommend getting a copy of either English version of the German books, “Brugmansia and Datura Angel’s Trumpets and Thorn Apples” by Ulrike and Hans-Georg Preissel or “Engelstrompeten” by Monika Gottschalk. Both of these have been referred as the bibles of any brugmansia or datura growers.

My favorite place on the internet is This is a group of growers who are there to help other registered members. I can’t stress enough that you know the grower and know what it is that you purchase.

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