The datura genus is one of the most fascinating in the plant kingdom. The genus has long been the subject of legend thanks to the hallucinogenic and poisonous tropane alkaloids present in all datura types. These evening blooming plants can be cultivated at home for ornamental value, though some species are illegal and should be avoided in homes with curious pets or children.
Reaching an average of three to five feet high, devil's trumpet (Datura metel), also called horn of plenty, is a loose, open shrublike annual native to Southeast Asia. Though considered a weed in some places, devil's trumpet is occasionally cultivated for its showy trumpet shaped flowers, which point upwards towards the sky. The unpleasant smelling flowers are white, with edges that are tinged with purple. Devil's trumpet does best in full sunlight in USDA zones 7 to 10. An average well drained soil is fine for this plant. Water regularly: more in the summer, less in cooler months. Like all species of datura, devil's trumpet is highly poisonous and should never be ingested.
Thorn apple (Datura stramonium), also called jimson weed or devil's apple, is an odorous weed native to the United States, Canada and many other places in the world. Reaching an average height of 3 to 6 feet tall, thorn apple is notable for its broad, jagged dark green leaves and purple tinged white flowers. The plant is a common sight in deserts in the American Southwest, as well as pastures throughout the rest of the country. Thorn apple is sometimes cultivated in USDA zones 3 to 9 for its large flowers. The plant will grow in partial shade or full sun, ideally in a well draining, neutral loam. The plant will grow in dry and moist soils. Thorn apple is quite toxic and may harm grazing livestock or curious children if ingested.
Angel's trumpet (Datura inoxia var. quinquecuspida) is a sprawling herbaceous perennial that grows to be about three feet high and more than twice that in length. Unlike the devil's trumpet and thorn apple, angel's trumpet sports flowers that are quite fragrant. The plant offers broad, green leaves accented by silky white tubular flowers. Angel's trumpet may be cultivated in USDA zones 5 to 10, in either full sun or partial sun. The plant is drought once established and requires no supplemental watering. Though angel's trumpet will grow in a range of well draining soils, it will produce its best flowers if allowed to grow in a rich, loamy soil. The plant is highly poisonous and should be kept away from children.