Brugmansias, commonly called angel trumpets, are a family of colorful fragrant flowering trees or bushes. While native to the tropical regions of South America, angel trumpets are a common addition to many gardens throughout the United States. Angel trumpet plants are easy to grow and, according to Better Homes and Gardens, ideal for the amateur gardener.
There are seven species of Brugmansia. Their common name "Angel Trumpet" refers to the shape of the large hanging flowers. The flowers can grow up to 20 inches long and 13 inches across at the wide end of the flower. The blossoms stay shut during the daytime and open at nightfall, making them a common addition to many "moonlight gardens" or "night gardens."
The angel trumpet’s flowers come in a variety of desired colors including red, pink, orange, violet, white and yellow. The flowers are also known for their strong fragrance, which can range from a light lemony scent to a strong vanilla scent, creating a wide variety of complex fragrances. The fragrant flowers of the angel trumpet commonly attract hummingbirds, butterflies and the typically less desirable ants.
Angel trumpets are easily grown in warm, frost-free climates with cool nights (planting zones 9 to 11). They require well-drained, acidic, fertile soil in partial shade to direct sunlight. The angel trumpet needs to be watered frequently, keeping the soil moist. The flowers begin blooming in late spring and can continue into late fall or early winter. During cold winters angel trumpets need protection; it is recommended to prune the stalks back and cover them with a bucket or sheet of plastic. The roots are quite hardy, and the plant will re-appear during the spring. It can also be grown in a container and brought inside when temperatures drop.
Angel trumpets contain dangerous levels of toxins in all parts of the plant, which can be fatal to humans and animals. Ingesting the plant can cause the throat and eyes to become swollen and has been known to produce hallucinogenic effects. The plants are ingested for shamanic rituals; however, the amount of toxin in each plant varies, making the practice unpredictable and sometimes fatal. Should any part of the plant come into contact with the eyes, unusual dilation may occur, since it contains substances used in common dilation medications.
Because of its toxic qualities, people with house pets or small children may want to avoid introducing this plant into their home. In some areas of the United States the angel trumpet plant has been banned; you should always check local restrictions before planting it.