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Bold and exotic Brugmansia

Brugmansia, or angel's trumpets, are the stars of any late-summer garden with their bold textures and exotic blooms. These tropical plants can easily be overwintered if you have room.

By Betty Earl / February 3, 2011

The pendulous, downward-facing, single blossoms of angel's trumpets or Brugsmansia, hanging from branches like so many fluted bells, are the highlight of any late-summer garden

Courtesy of Betty Earl

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For this Midwestern gardener, Brugmansias, commonly known as angel’s trumpets -- with their sumptuous foliage, bold outrageous colors, and awesome textures -- are an easy choice to overwinter indoors.

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In the past few years, tropical plants have become all the rage in our gardens, mine included. It’s an exciting new trend in garden design – tropical plants incorporated into annual or perennial borders, as well as grown out in abundance in solitary containers.

Who can resist that “jungly-feel” world of sumptuous foliage, bold outrageous colors, and awesome textures?

And it’s so easy to get that look here in the Midwest. Our summers full of sun, heat, and humidity -- along with those quirky summer storms producing heavy rains -- combine to give rise to the perfect conditions to fuel the growth of tropicals into large, imposing plants by summer’s end.

So we create these lavish outdoor container groupings with out-and-out abandon in the spring, then as fall approaches, move these plants indoors to be overwintered for use once again come next summer.

Or do we?

How many of us actually have the space, time, and energy to overwinter these “babies” indoors? I know that come fall, I have a really hard time deciding which plants I’ll take in and which will end up on the compost pile – for I love them all.

Still, choices have to be made.

One of my easiest decisions is what to do with the Brugmansias.

To my mind, the commonly, yet evocatively, named angel’s trumpets, or Brugmansia suaveolens, are surely the most spectacular and exotic of all the equatorial flowering plants.

While the entire plant is glorious in its own right, Brugmansia's (or Brug, for short) main claim to fame is those voluminous, tubular, trumpetlike blossoms that emit an incredibly intoxicating scent in late evening.

The overall plant, sporting big, coarse-textured leaves, generally is rather mediocre in appearance, but the white-, yellow-, pink-, or salmon-colored flowers are remarkably beautiful. The pendulous, downward-facing, single or double blossoms, hanging from branches like so many fluted bells, can sometimes reach an incredible two feet in length and are the highlight of any late summer garden.

Remarkable cultivars

One of my all time favorites – and the plant always brought in – is Brugmansia x candida ‘Grand Marnier’, a strong-growing and free-flowering plant with large, single, pale golden-peachy blooms of a rather strong fragrance.

Tops, also, on my list are SuperNova’, with huge single white flowers to 18 inches long; gorgeous ‘Velvet Rose’, with beautiful rich pink blossoms; the intensely fragrant ‘Charles Grimaldi’, with enormous 15-inch yellow-orange flowers with strongly recurved petal tips; and ‘HerrenHauser Garten’, a magnificient double orange, which (alas!) is a rather shy bloomer.

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