One of late spring and summer show stopping plants that is showing its face all around South Florida is the Angels Trumpet or (Brugmansia spp.) Also blooms in the fall. You would have to be blind folded driving around Naples and Marco not to see these landscape gems. This plant is in the Solanaceae family, native to tropical South America and has been naturalized her in North America. Large flowers are fragrant but more intense at night to attract moths for pollinating. Angels Trumpet is the common name referring to the large pendulous flowers it produces some being so large like the Super Nova are so big some people can where them as hats. They come in several different colors, white, pink, yellow, orange, red and a beautiful salmon. The flowers last a couple of days but bloom on and off for several months in warmer climates, they can bloom all year long. This beautiful plant can be a shrub or trained as a tree.
AngelsTrumpet can grow to twenty feet but the most are about twelve feet high and get span six to twelve feet wide. The leaves can also be eight to twelve inches Long and six to ten inches in width.
Brugmansia are easy to grow and cultivate. It likes acidic soil but will tolerate our alkaline soil and is not drought tolerant. Angels trumpet will not tolerate salt and requires lots of fertilizer. Angels Trumpet will grow best in full sun to partial shade. Angels trumpet also do well as container plants.
Cuttings taken from the lower branches will have to get the same size as the mother plant that they were taken from to bloom; cuttings taken from upper branches will bloom at any height. So having a choice of where to take cuttings is a no brainer, go for the upper branches. The best time to take cuttings is the summer when night time temperatures are above sixty degrees.
A relative of the Angels Trumpet is the Dutura (DevilsTrumpet) the difference is Angels Trumpet flowers hang downward towards you know where and the devils trumpet (Datura) is usually a double flower pointing skyward towards heaven, I think they got this backwards, Oh well !
Angels Trumpet has few pest problems but if bothered by snails, mealy bugs or whiteflies you can use Bayer Advanced Tree and shrub follow directions and it works. There is a butterfly in South America that uses Angels Trumpet as a host plant and larval food (plant female butterflies lay their eggs on and caterpillars eat). They store the plant’s tropane alkaloids in the pupa stage and pass it along to the adult butterfly where they are used as defense against their predators, making them distasteful. Similar to what many of our own butterflies here in the United States do.
Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, www.naplesbutterfly.com. He also can be heard every Saturday at 4 PM on his call-in garden radio show, “Plant Talk with Mike Malloy,” on 98.9-WGUF.