If you are new to the Angel’s Trumpet (Latin: Brugmansia) and want an introduction to this beautiful plant, this post is a good place to start.
After reading this post, you will be able to care for your angel´s trumpet all year long.
Cold and warm Angel’s Trumpets
You need to know that there are two types of Angel’s Trumpets. We call one “warm” and the other “cold”. The reason you need to be able to tell the difference is that they grow differently and need to be cared for in their separate ways.
This post is not about how to name Brugmansia, but there are basically 7 species of which three are cold:
B. arborea, B. sanguinea, B. vulcanicola
The 4 warm species are:
B. aurea, B. insignis, B. suaveolens, B. versicolor
All others are hybrids of these species, either natural or cultivated.
Of natural hybrids are found: B. x flava which belongs to the cold group and therefore can cross with the others in this group. In the warm group are B. x candida and B. x cubensis
Pollination between the cold and warm groups are not possible
Learn to tell warm and cold Angels apart
The leaves of cold angels often (not always) look completely different from the warm ones, all of which have flat tapered leaves. NOTE angel trumpets with yellow flowers often have serrated leaves. This also occurs in some cultivated (bred) varieties that are not necessarily yellow.
Leaves on cold angel´s trumpets can be, for example, slightly twisted, hairy, very dark, thick or small.
As said, cold angels do not enter the growth phase and grow slowly. This causes the branches and trunks to look different. On cold angels, you can experience almost knotted branches and “twigs” settle everywhere.
On warm ones, it is quite easy to see the Y with the subsequent Y, and there is a relatively long distance between the branches. NOTE, however, that if a cutting is taken over the mother plant’s Y, then it will not have to go thru the growth phase itself.
If you see a cold angel without flowers, it will often not be easy to say that it is an angel´s trumpet.
But unfortunately, it is not a bulletproof method, as there are also cold angels that look like warm, so you have to wait for the flowers to come to be able to determine it.
Checklist when deciding whether an angel trumpet is cold or hot
- The leaves: shape, color and size and possibly hairy
- The flowers: Length, funnel-shaped with “dress” or sudden bow
- Branches: an elongated plant with a clear difference of stem and branches, or more random shrub growth
- Seeds: Round or oblong
Care for your warm and cold Angle´s Trumpet differently
If you know the species name, you can, for example, ask Google and search the results for hints about which hybrid your specimen belongs to, in order to determine whether it belongs to the cold or warm group.
The cold angel trumpets can generally handle down to 2 degrees Celcius heat, while the warm must have a minimum of 8 (slightly depending on the variety).
Both groups go into hibernation at the minimum temperatures and need almost no watering until spring.
Cold angel trumpets are not as fond of heat as those we call warm, and should not be placed in direct sunlight. Cold angels are generally a little more delicate than the warm ones, and therefore a little harder to cultivate. They also grow much slower and do not have to go through the growth phase.
The group of warm angel trumpets can hardly get too much water and fertilizer, while the cold ones are frustrated by overwatering/fertilizing.
Your Angel´s Trumpet will be big!
If you have just acquired a cutting, you will probably have a cute little plant, but you should know that this will be huge – Even after only a year.
Warm angel´s trumpets grow surprisingly fast and typically become about 2-3 meters high within 2-3 years.
Are angel´s Trumpets difficult to cultivate?
Angel trumpets may be a little laborious to keep beautiful if you are not over them daily, but they are definitely not complicated.
The workload is probably what makes most people give up. There are two things that especially require effort.
If you know how to grow tomatoes, you will probably find angels easy.
Water water water and fertilizer
First, especially the warm varieties of the angel´s trumpets are very thirsty. A large plant can swallow 10-50 liters of water on a hot summer day. This water needs plenty of fertilizer.
Cold angel´s trumpets should also be watered a lot, but preferably not so much at a time. Many enthusiasts water several times a day – both the cold and the warm plants. The cold ones also do not need as much fertilizer and grow much slower.
If you water with rainwater, you must also add a little calcium.
Be prepared to water your plant every day. If you are not home for a few days, get someone else to water. A self-watering pot is usually not enough for more than a few days, as the plant is very thirsty. Ikea has some large self-watering pots that can be used for eg a weekend.
Angel´s Trumpets may well survive some days without water, but if it is very hot at the same time, you may risk it throwing away all buds (especially), flowers, and leaves.
You can use any cheap fertilizer for Angel´s Trumpet, but the plant will love you more if it is high in nitrogen.
When should I start fertilizing?
A very common beginner mistake is to start on fertilizer too early. Everywhere you will read that Angel´s Trumåets must have a lot of fertilizer. But wait a minute!
Your cutting must have settled well in the new pot and be in good growth before you start fertilizing. Otherwise, you run the risk of it rotting. Better to start a little too late on the fertilizer than too early. I usually look to see if a warm angel´s trumpet has a larger number of new leaves and has grown approx. 25 cm, but there is no rule.
Fertilizer deficiency is usually easily seen in yellow leaves and lack of growth, but the yellow leaves can also be a sign of eg wind or pests.
Watering in winter
In winter, unlike in summer, the plant does not need to be watered very much depending on your climate and how it is stored.
Secondly, there is a lot of work to be done to keep the angel trumpets free of pests. In particular, this species of plant is very exposed to spider mites, which occur when fluctuating in heat / cold, humidity, etc. However, you can relatively easily control the pests with homemade or bought insect soap.
Read more about pests in angel´s trumpets and failure to thrive
Protect your angel trumpet from wind and weather
Angel trumpets are sensitive to wind and weather, so it is necessary to think about where it is located.
The flowers will often look brown and wither at the edge if they have been given too much wind. The leaves can also become dull to look at and some even blow off. Therefore, place your angel trumpet in a place where it is not exposed to so much wind. But finally make sure there is ventilation on hot days as too much sun also damages it.
Heavy rain can damage a plant, so it hangs with the leaves and holes appear in the flowers. In severe cases, it will also be able to throw its cups. Be careful not to let the pot stand in large amounts of rainwater for weeks. Well enough, it should have a lot of water, but it is primarily on hot and sunny days.
Although the plant naturally grows in the warm part of the world, it should, surprisingly, not have too high temperatures either. Sunburn of leaves is common also in Denmark, and we need to protect the plant from too much direct sun. Brugmansia must, however, have a lot of light, so the placement of it can be a bit awkward. You have to try it out and notice how it thrives.
Sunburned leaves can turn completely white and dry out.
How big a pot should angel trumpets have?
While cuttings or seedling is growing large, feel free to wait until the roots protrude from the bottom and fill the entire pot. Pot the plant several times as it grows.
On the other hand, when you have a large adult plant, there are two “schools”:
One says that with a small pot, you get more flowers. It may look dangerous, with a very small pot for such a large plant, but the plants usually thrive really well with the small pot. However, you should then be aware that the plant will need to be watered very often as the soil cannot hold on to the water for it.
The large pot is a little easier to keep running, as the soil will help against drying out of the plant. I myself have always stuck to the slightly larger pots as I do not have that much time for plant care.
The large pot will yield slightly fewer flowers, but since the plant already gets many many flowers at a time, few will notice it.
Can angel trumpets grow in garden soil?
Yes, there are many who put their plants out of the ground in the garden. It works great and you don’t have to worry about the big angel trumpets blowing over.
However, one should be aware that it can be difficult to get up for the winter as the root network quickly becomes very large. Most people who put their angel trumpet in garden soil dig it down with pots. That way, you just have to cut the protruding roots to get it up in the fall.
Which soil is optimal for angel trumpets?
You can actually manage with quite cheap or free soil. I myself use my own compost, so growing this plant does not have to be expensive.
Why do the leaves of the Angel´s Trumpet point upwards?
There are two reasons why angel trumpets point the leaves upwards. One is too much fertilizer at once, the other that the plant extends after the sunlight in the evening. Not all varieties do this.
If a plant gets too much fertilizer it will start to rot. Therefore, take the plant out of the pot and rinse the soil off the roots. Give it new soil and wait a few weeks to fertilize again.
The magic Y and the phases of the Angel´s Trumpets
You may have already heard it, but the angel´s trumpet is a fun plant to grow because it has some life stages. However, this only applies to the warm types of the plant. If you have a cold angel´s trumpet, you just have to keep watering and peeling off dead leaves, then you will suddenly (typically the 2nd year) be gifted with the beautiful flowers.
One cannot provoke a Y by cutting the plant. A Y only appears during the growth phase!
Angel trumpets must go through a growth phase before they bloom. The phase is very easily seen by the plant developing giant leaves. During the growth phase, the plant grows enormously! It is almost just before you can see it grow. Over the course of a few weeks to a month, the plant will often grow up to a meter (I have experienced plants that only grew 25cm before putting Y). It then divides into a distinct Y shape. After this first Y you will often experience a single flower and the plant will quietly shed its huge leaves. Then the plant divides again into two Yer and the first real flowering is started.
Leaves should not be peeled off, even if the plant looks fiercely green and lush. The plant causes the energy to mature from these leaves.
In the future, the flower will have dormant periods followed by large blooms. It is therefore not a plant that continuously blooms and sets new buds. It happens in successive phases.
Never cut your plant below it first Y – Then your plant will be in growth phase again before it blooms – often not until next year.
So you can not cut yourself to a lower plant!
Not all angel trumpets set Y
The most common reason why an angelic trumpet does not set Y is that it is a cold variety that does not have this property.
The other main reason will be that the plant is a cutting which is taken over the mother plant’s Y. A branch of the angel trumpet only needs to be in the growth phase once in its life to get into flower.
A plant that does not thrive can take a very long time to get into the growth phase, but it typically happens within the first year of life if the seed is laid early, or the cutting taken in the spring.
A plant taken as a cutting late in the year will often not enter the growth phase until next spring.
Pruning, when and how?
The first thing you need to know about pruning is that it is not necessary at all. The angel trumpet is a bush and over the years it will bush all by itself.
The most common reason we prune is that we do not have room to store the large plants for the winter. In this case, just remember never to cut your plant below Y – if it has one. Then, as previously written, the plant will have to go through a new growth phase before it can flower.
Angel trumpets can withstand very violent cutbacks. All the way down to the roots. The plant will just shoot again. However, I would never cut quite so far down late in the year. During the winter, it is more exposed, and may well have some strength. There are a number of plants that never get started again after winter storage, and my experience is that it is always the very small ones that have the hardest time surviving.
Help my plant has got frost!
We have seen angel trumpets survive the frost, but hurry to take it inside anyway.
There are some angel trumpet growers who like to let the frost burn the outermost of the branches before moving the plants in winter hibernation. I dont understand why. Angel trumpets are always damaged by frost, but most will still be able to survive a very small exposure to the cold temperatures.
As a rule, do not expose your angel trumpet to below 8 degrees. This is not entirely correct as it differs from variety to variety what temperature they should be kept above.
A little warning
I should just for the sake of good order, point out that the plant is poisonous. All parts, roots, stem, leaves, flowers, fragrance, etc. can cause both mild poisoning symptoms and severe allergies. Therefore, remember to wear gloves when handling them.
Further information on angel trumpets
Many people in particular have a tendency to put their plants out too early. But remember that the 8 degrees the plant must use also applies at night.