Angel's Trumpets-A Wonder of the Evening Garden

Angel's Trumpet plants have been around for almost a century, and are less common now than in previous years. Brugmansia  is the botanical name for this genus of spectacular plants. These plants have one of the most magnificent evening fragrances of any plant I know of, and deserve a place in more gardens than we see today. Angel's Trumpets have a range of colors, grow even in coolish subtropical areas ( throughout the coastal Gulf states, from Orlando south to the Florida Keys), and are fairly pest-free. These plants are worthy specimens in your planting scheme, and I have marveled at plants well over 50 years old in mature landscapes.There are types to fit most gardens, from fairly small and compact such as the variety 'Cypress Gardens' to a fast and beefy type such as 'Frosty Pink'. They are good companion plants to gingers, heliconias, bananas, and some palms that like lots of water and fertilizer.

The plants have certain needs to grow well, and are not a set-and-forget plant. As with all plants that grow fast, these plants are heavy feeders, but are not at all fussy about what fertilizer they get. I heard one grower refer to them as "hogs", meaning they needed a lot of feeding. The main points to remember about these plants are that they need everything in abundance: fertilizer, water, mulch, heat, light, and humidity. If you deliver these things, you'll be amazed at the return on your investments ! These plants epitomize the old saying 'you get out of it what you put into it'.

Brugmansia 'Peaches and Cream'

Brugmansia 'Cypress Gardens' 
The plants used to be more popular, but recently have gotten a bad reputation. The plants are in the tobacco family, and like most members of that family, the leaves contain alkaloids similar to coffee and other species. Some homeowners fear the plant will be a danger to children, but I caution readers that a very large number of common landscape plants have chemicals in their leaves as natural defense mechanisms. Many houseplants and popular seasonal flowers are troublesome if ingested, but we know about the traits and steer clear of them. Education about plants is a powerful tool, which should be used more often than it is. One wizened teacher in Gainesville told me that "if people are in the habit of grazing on their landscape they should not be gardeners."

There is no need to fear the plants; they will not affect a casual gardener no matter how aggressive the pruning or contact with the plant.   

Brugmansia 'Lemon Ice'
Brugmansia 'Frosty Pink'
There is a species of Angel's Trumpet that shows up in garden seed catalogs, and I wish to make mention of it, since it also shows up in local plant sales. Brugmansia sanguinea comes from the Ecuadorian highlands, and really prefers cooler temperatures than we have in South Florida. I saw this species growing to perfection on the San Francisco coastline, bathed in chilly fog, and have also seen it at over 10,000 feet of altitude in the hills around Quito, Ecuador. As beautiful as this species is, I recommend it only for people who live in Mediterranean climates where the weather is moderate all year, with a long cool winter.

Give Angel's Trumpets the resources they need, and they will give you abundant flowers with an ethereal texture and heavenly fragrances.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

Brugmansia sanguinea


  1. Hi Craig,
    I would love to grow these angel's trumpets. Where could I find details on the most successful method of fertilizer, mulching, watering and pruning?

  2. Hi Anonymous- these plants are responsive to almost any type of fertilizer, but rose fertilizer works great. You could use either organic or synthetic fertilizer on the plants every month, and they'll just get bigger and better. The main secret is to fertilize them regularly, and any extra orgaic ingredients like coffee grounds, compost, manure, or mulch will help the plants bloom better. Water them thoroughly and heavily during active growth, which for us in Miami is every 3 or 4 days in the summer, every week in the winter. A fairly hard cut-back in April brings about a nice bushy plant. One of my favored tactics is to use slow-release fertilizer in March and September, topped off by organic rose fertilizer, topped off by 4-6 inches of muclh. The plants are growing into trees, and flower every month.

    Good growing,

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

  3. angel trumpet 'Inca sun' is new cultivar that blooms more then any other! link2info: http://www.logees.com/prodinfo.asp?number=R1124-4
    (guess no links work on here...so copy/paste)

  4. Hi Plant guy-
    So far we've had a very hot and dry summer- I didn't get to water as I should have and I've noticed that my yellow and orange Brugs are developing a corky texture to their bark. It appears that the stems where this is happening is losing it's leaves. What is this stuff?


  5. Hi KS- I have seen this condition before, but never found a single cause for it. I feel there may be several issues at hand. Check for mite infestations, which can cause a lot of local tissue damage at the feeding sites, even on stem tissue. I also suspect that the plants add layers of cork bark to retard dehydration in lean times. During really long dry spells, I also suspect increased nematode damage, which often results in bumpy or corky stem tissue. Good hunting for the causes ! Thanks for keeping up with the blog !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest gardens