The genus Datura belongs to the same plant family (Solanaceae, or deadly nightshade) as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Included in the genus are nine species of annual plants, all of which are poisonous. Jimson weed is the common name of one species. All Daturas have lovely, fragrant flowers that bloom at night, so some people grow them to add interest to their gardens. They are native to the deserts of the American southwest. Indigenous peoples have used parts of the Datura during vision quests and puberty rituals.
Caring for a Datura Plant
Start seeds two to three months before your final spring frost because they can take up to six weeks to germinate. Prepare a flat or nursery pot with potting soil and then plant seeds about one inch deep. Keep the soil moist until you transplant the seedlings in mid-spring. Maintain a temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Transplant seedlings to a partially sunny location in your garden after the danger of frost has passed. The Datura is not fussy about the soil in which it grows, so you needn't amend soil with compost before you plant. Plant them about 2 feet apart.
Water your Datura plants every two to three days, making sure to keep the soil moist.
Fertilize your Datura plants every week using a balanced, all-purpose plant food.
Control insects by hand picking or spray plants with insecticidal soap (for aphids, scale and spider mites) or ultra-fine oil (for scale insects).