There are few trees that can stop a person in their tracks like a Brugmansia can. In their native climates, brugmansias can grow to be up to 20 feet (6 m.) tall. Not at all an impressive height for a tree, but what makes them so impressive is that the entire tree can be covered in foot long (31 cm.) trumpet-shaped flowers.
Brugmansias are commonly called Angel Trumpets. Brugmansias are frequently confused with or thought to be the same as daturas, which are also commonly called Angel Trumpets. This is an incorrect assumption though. Brugmansia and daturas are not directly related to one another (they are listed in two separate genus). The brugmansia is a woody tree, while the datura is an herbaceous shrub. The two different angel trumpets can be distinguished by the direction of the flowers. In brugmansias, the flower hangs down. In daturas, the flower stands upright.
Many people look at brugmansias and assume that they can only be grown in tropical climates. While it is true that brugmansias are tropical trees, they are actually very easy for someone in a colder climate to grow and enjoy. Brugmansias can be easily grown in containers.
Growing Brugmansia in Containers
Brugmansias do quite well grown in containers and can be easily grown by a northern gardener in a container. Plant your brugmansia in a rather large container, at least two feet (61 cm.) in diameter. Your container brugmansia can go outside when the nighttime temperatures stay above 50 degrees F. (10 C.). and can remain outside until the fall when the nighttime temperatures start to fall below 50 degrees F (10 C.).
Be sure to keep your container brugmansia thoroughly watered while you keep it outside. They do need a lot of water and your container brugmansia may need to be watered up to twice a day.
Most brugmansias will not grow to their full height if they are grown in a container. At the most, the typical container grown brugmansia will reach a height of about 12 feet (4 m.). Of course, if this is too high, a container grown brugmansia tree can be easily trained into a smaller tree or even a shrub size. Pruning your container brugmansia to a desired height or shape will not affect the size or frequency of the flowers.
Overwintering Brugmanias in Containers
Once the weather turns colder and you need to bring your brugmansia in from the cold, you have two options for overwintering your container brugmansia.
The first is to simply treat your container brugmansia as a houseplant. Put it in a sunny location and water as the soil dries out. You probably will not see any flowers while your container brugmansia lives in the house, but it has nice foliage.
Your other option is to force the container brugmansia into dormancy. To do this, put your brugmansia in a cool (but not cold), dark place, such as a garage, basement, or a closet. If you would like, you may trim your container brugmansia back by about a third before you store it. This will not hurt the plant and may make storage a little easier for you.
Once the plant is stored, water it sparingly, only about once per month. Be warned, your container brugmansia is going to start to look pretty pathetic. It will lose its leaves and some of the outer branches may die. Do not panic. As long as the trunk of the brugmansia tree is still green, your container brugmansia is alive and well. The tree is only sleeping.
A month or so before it is warm enough to take your container brugmansia back outside, start to water your brugmansia more frequently, about once a week. If you have room in your house, bring the container brugmansia out of its storage space or set up a fluorescent light bulb to shine on the brugmansia. In about a week you will start to see some leaves and branches start to grow. You will find that your container brugmansia will come out of dormancy very quickly.
Once you put your container brugmansia back outside, its growth will be very rapid and you will have a lush, breathtaking, flower filled brugmansia tree again in just a matter of weeks.