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Datura and Brugmansia

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Datura stramonium.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

Brugmansia or angels’ trumpet

The huge trumpet-shaped flowers on Brugmansia and Datura stramonium remain very attractive right up until the first frost.

Daturas and brugmansias are both Solanaceae native to the New World tropics (zone 9). While they both produce large tubular (10 cm) flowers, they can be distinguished by the fact that daturas are annuals with erect flowers and brugmansias are shrubs with pendent flowers. They bloom from June until the first frost.

Are you worried that your brugmansias will get leggy and bare if you bring them indoors for the winter?

Before overwintering your brugmansias, you need to cut them back sharply, because they grow very quickly – and are even considered weeds! It is easier to take a few cuttings from the tips of some stems, which will take up less room indoors. They require a lot of water, sunlight and fertilizer. Put them in a southwest-facing window. From September to February, water them one to three times a week and mist them once or twice a day if the air is dry.

From March to September, while they are producing foliage and flowers simultaneously, they may need to be watered as often as twice daily. They require regular feeding in order to bloom. We recommend alternating between 15-30-15 and 20-20-20 fertilizer. Depending on the season, they should be fertilized more or less frequently: from March to June, once a week, from July to September, every other week, and from October to February, once a month.

It is best to move your brugmansias outdoors in summer. Careful, though! The windier it is, the faster they will dry out. Start to acclimatize them gradually to the outdoors in late May, once daytime temperatures reach 21-22°C and nighttime temperatures are around 18°C. To avoid burning your plants, place them in the shade for two weeks, and then move them into full sun.

When should you plant datura seeds?

It is best to start daturas from seed indoors in late March. For plants that are not hybrids, you can use seeds harvested the previous fall. They will bloom in June. Seeds left in a border will germinate the next spring and if you look carefully you will find the seedlings. These plantlets may reach maturity and bloom in August or September, depending on their growing conditions.

Are these two plants poisonous?

Careful!!! All parts of these plants, especially the seeds, are extremely poisonous. Depending on the amount absorbed and the victim’s age and weight, they can cause vomiting, hallucinations and even cardiac arrest. It is best not to grow these plants if you have young children. For the same reason, it is essential that they not be composted!

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