Angel Trumpet Is the Mesmerizing—but Toxic—Flower You Should Know About
They're bright, pendulous, and lethal. Here's everything you need to know about growing and caring for the angel trumpet flower.
The Brugmansia, commonly known as the angel trumpet, is a stunning perennial with vivacious blooms that pay homage to its name. Coming in a myriad of colors, the angel trumpet instantly adds a tropical feel to any garden or patio space. Though showy and vibrant, it's important to remember that these blooms are part of the nightshade family, which is known to be poisonous."The Brugmansia is a desired aesthetic in the garden because it's very dramatic," says Monica Yates, the head green good coordinator at Sloat Gardens. "They do have a scent that is most noticeable in the evening and [they are] statements. I think that that in itself is often why people look for them."
Thinking about adding these flowers to your own garden? Here are the best tips for growing and caring for them, along with some important precautions.
Growing Angel Trumpet
The tropical flower grows in zones nine and up, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison horticulture division. You'll most likely find Brugmansia at the nursery in a five-gallon can, according to Yates, who suggests opting for an established plant as opposed to starting from seed. If you don't know what you're looking for, you may walk right past it. Rather than the flowing umbrella of flowers you'd typically see in a garden, an angel trumpet plant is just a singular trunk when first starting out. "They usually are one trunk until they branch generally about three to four feet," Yates says. "I always recommend digging a hole [when planting] that's big enough where a young plant doesn't have to struggle for the first couple of years."
When transferring your angel trumpet flower to the garden, Yates advises using amended soil. "Often, [amended soil] has organic matter like manure, compost that's been broken down," she says. "It adds value nutritionally, instead of just putting [the plant] straight into hard soil that may not have any value."
Caring for Angel Trumpet
In order to properly care for your angel trumpet flowers, you'll want to water them regularly. "It does like a lot of water, but it doesn't like to stay wet, so [make sure it's in] well-draining soil," shares Hallie Schmidt, owner of Tierra Madre Fine Gardens. Yates notes that the angel trumpet flowers are a good indicator plant, so you won't be left guessing. "They will let you know when they are dry," she says. "They do wilt, but they are very drought tolerant once they are established."
In addition to plenty of water, the right sunlight exposure is essential. "It likes sun, but if you live in a really, really hot place with a lot of direct sun, it's better to give it some shade, like morning sun and afternoon shade, or dappled sun," Schmidt says.
Pruning Angel Trumpet
The angel trumpet flower is hardy and takes well to pruning, so don't be afraid to make drastic cuts. This is useful for managing the plant's growth, but can also be used as an opportunity to control its shape. "If it gets too big or you don't like the way it's going, you can cut it really hard and it responds really well," Schmidt says. "You have a lot of control over its size and shape."
Pruning isn't just for aesthetics; it's also essential to the plant's overall health. By cutting away excess foliage, you keep the plant clean, meaning it will attract fewer non-beneficial bugs. "One thing I recommend is making sure plants are clean," Yates says. "Clean up underneath them so there's no debris. If the plant is dirty, it can cause stress." Schmidt advises using clean, sharp tools for the job. If you're unsure where to start, begin by cutting branches that are crisscrossing to reduce congestion. "[Keep] the plant pruned so it's not super dense," she says. "Sometimes plants get really, really dense and there's a lot of branches touching and crisscrossing. There's less air circulation and that can make things more pest prone."
A Word of Warning
As a member of the nightshade family, the angel trumpet flower can be poisonous, due to the presence of tropane alkaloids in the plant, noted to have hallucinogenic properties. However, angel flowers only present a danger when consumed, with the seeds and flowers being most toxic. "It's considered one of the most toxic ornamental shrubs," Yates says. "I would always recommend washing your hands because if you have any of the oils on your hands and you put it in your eyes, you may have an adverse reaction to it." Also avoid composting any seeds or parts of the plant, for good measure.