This will grow as a shrub but can be coaxed into a tree form by the usual pruning of lower branches. If you protect the trunk in cooler months ( insulated pipe wrap works very well ) it will grow faster and develop a tree form quicker. In time it can reach 20′ in height.
Grow this plant in full sun ( except Houston afternoon full sun ) to filtered shade.
If exposed to a light frost you’ll lose the leaves, if exposed to an extended frost, or several like in the winter of 2009-2010 it will die back to the ground. Mine came back to life in March.
During the July and Aug the brugmansia will wilt in the afternoon heat.
The flowers come in white, pink, red, yellow or orange.
Do not cut this plant to make it bushy, it will do so on its own. When the limb branches, flowers will form on the new growth. If you must prune it, do so while it is not flowering.
The base of this plant gets scraggly looking with time. You’ll either want to prune it to tree shape or plant something in front of it to cover the bottom.
This plant is easily propagated from cuttings. To propagate you cut off a limb, cut it into 1′ chunks and stick the sticks in the ground. I find it propagates better from hard wood cuttings, soft cuttings don’t usually survive. One person told me she had done that. Two years later they had climbed to the second floor of her home. So this is a be sure you love it before you plant it plant.
These plants are native to the high Andes where they grow as a scrub brush. The high trade in Brugmansia has made it endangered there.
Some say the name comes from the trumpet shaped flowers. I’ve also heard that the leaves are highly toxic and if you ingest it you’ll hear the angel’s trumpets calling for you. The leaves when dried and smoked are also an extremely strong hallucinogenic, don’t smoke them. Despite the toxicity the plant is used as a medicine in the Sibundoy Valley of Columbia. It is also used in witchcraft by the men of the local tribes. Tropane alkaloids (atropine, hyoscyamine, scopolamine) are the culprit, the same chemicals found in belladonna and henbane.
It has also been known to send gardeners to the ER with pupils so dilated the irises were hardly visible. The toxins easily pass through the skin. Wear gloves when pruning.
These do not do well in droughts. If if looks like we’re getting a hard freeze, I take cuttings and plant them in pots inside until the weather warms up a bit.