The Brugmansia Plant

Overview

A mature brugmansia is a stunning focal point in the garden. Growing 8 to 10 feet tall, with a dense, weeping canopy and intensely fragrant tubular flowers, this perennial will definitely draw attention. Despite their tropical origins and appearance, brugmansias will even grow in colder regions if you provide them with winter protection.

Varieties

'Charles Grimaldi' is noted for its floral abundance. The plant is covered with salmon colored flowers, each up to a foot long. Blooms are exceptionally fragrant. This brugmansia is on the smaller side, only growing 6 to 8 feet in height. It is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10. 'Cherub' is another small variety, which makes it a wonderful potted patio plant. Flowers are eight to ten inches long, in varying shades of pink. 'Cherub' will be much more vigorous if planted directly in the ground, reaching 8 to 10 feet tall. A container grown specimen will be 4 to six 6 in height. The growth habit of this brugmansia is markedly spreading, giving the appearance of a tree-like canopy. It is hardy in zones 7 through 10. 'Miner's Claim' is one of the most beautiful brugmansias. Leaves have dark green centers with pale yellow borders, providing a startling contrast with the bright pink flowers. Unlike most other brugmansias, 'Miner's Claim' has flowers that become more fragrant at night. This cultivar will grow 4 to 6 feet tall in a pot, and 8 to 10 feet tall when planted in the ground. The variegated foliage may burn in hot climates if the plant is in full sun. It is hardy in zones 7 through 10.

Growing

Brugmansias thrive in loose, fertile soil. Quality garden compost should suffice, but potted plants will need a fertilizer with balanced nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium levels to promote flowering. Good drainage is very important, but so is an adequate water supply. If there is any wilting foliage on a hot summer day, it is an indicator that the plant needs more water. A strange fact about brugmansias is that they often do not do well when watered with chlorinated city water. Rain water or purified water will produce a much healthier plant.

Hardiness

Although brugmansias are technically cold hardy in zones 7 and 8, winter protection is still a good idea. Potted plants can be cut back after the first hard fall frosts and kept in a cool (but not freezing) area over the winter. A garage, porch, or chilly basement will work well. Plants in the ground will need a heavy mulch of straw or leaves, followed by a plastic covering to keep out excess moisture. A large, plastic flower pot with the drainage hole plugged works very well for this. As much as brugmansias need summer water, winter cold temperatures combined with excess moisture can cause root rot and death. Brugmansia hardiness ultimately depends on protecting the roots properly from both cold and dampness.

Landscape

Brugmansias work well in an exotic or tropical themed garden. They make great container plants, and two matching specimens will even work in a formal English garden setting. When used in the landscape, they look their best combined with other neutral green plants with contrasting foliage textures, such as bamboo, bananas, and hostas.

Toxicity

Brugmansias are quite poisonous. Brugmansia toxicity effects both humans and pets. All parts of the plant are toxic, and care should be taken when pruning as the sap can cause contact dermatitis for some individuals.

Keywords: Brugmansia, Brugmansia hardiness, Brugmansia toxicity

About this Author

What began as a lifelong gardening fixation turned into a career for Jean Lien. She has more than 15 years of experience in the nursery industry and landscaping, and three years of horticulture at South Puget Sound Community College. Lien began writing in 2009 for websites including Associated Content and eHow.