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The nickname of this plant is quite funny and at the same time iconic: "Angel's trombone". Don't you find? But the real name is Brugmansia. This plant is of tropical origin but today we also find it in our area, it is used above all for ornamental purposes, often placed in pots but also in the garden. Its flowers, as its nickname might suggest, have the bell-shaped shape and they are white in color but, above all, they have a wonderful scent. This applies to all species of this plant which can however have colors other than white, which can only please those who want a colorful garden or balcony.
Brugmansia: origins and characteristics
Belonging to the family of Solonaceae, Brugmansia is a plant native to South America and has several species. The most widespread and cultivated are at the moment, because they are very decorative and easy to grow, the Brugmansia aurea, the Brugmansia sanguinea and the Brugmansia suaveolens.
Brugmansia can develop both as a shrub and as a tree and reaches a height of no more than one and a half meters. It has an erect trunk wrapped in a light gray bark. It has many branches that have a tendentially gnarled appearance and from which some green lanceolate leaves clear covered with a thin down. The result is a very beautiful rounded crown, even before it is filled with flowers which are definitely spectacular. First of all they are at least 30 centimeters long and have a particular shape: a trumpet.
In fact I am the Angel's trombone. With these features they can only be hanging flowers, but only during the day because in the evening they close and straighten. They remain on the plant throughout the summer and release a very strong scent, reminiscent of citrus fruits, especially orange.
Root rot is one of the fungal diseases that can most frequently affect Brugmansia, a plant that is at the same time very sensitive to the attack of various animal parasites. The aphids are his enemies as well as the whitefly, the red spider and the scale insects that form whitish clusters in the leaf axils. And then there are the leaf borers who mostly do damage on an aesthetic level. To avoid or at least try to limit the damage of the diseases we have just listed, the advice is to proceed with a specific and broad-spectrum antiparasitic and antifungal treatment.
Beyond the diseases, it is important to take care of this plant in an appropriate way, therefore taking into account some small tricks that are also important for prevent disease. We never expose this plant to too cold temperatures. If grown in pots, put it under cover during the winter, while if grown in the ground, protect it as best as possible with a mulch at the base, of straw or dry leaves. To ensure that the plant always looks tidy and bubbly, let's remember to remove the withered flowers and dry branches.
The tropical origins of this plant betray it and the make it sensitive to climate and positioning. In fact, Brugmansia loves areas where there is a mild climate and locations where it can get a lot of sun or at least stay in semi-shade, but always very sheltered from the wind. Great if we can fix it close to walls.
The best soil for this plant is that calcareous, rich in organic matter and well drained but adapts to what it finds without too many repercussions. Instead, it is important that there is plenty of space for the roots and, if in a pot, that there is a soil mixed with clay and pumice. In any case, in early spring it is necessary to distribute a slow release granular fertilizer, keeping 30 centimeters away from the throne. Alternatively, we can also use once a month the liquid fertilizer rich in nitrogen and potassium, diluted in the watering according to the doses shown on the package.
Speaking of watering, the Brugmansia it must be treated differently, depending on where it is grown. If in a pot, it must be watered regularly and constantly every day, especially in summer and during the flowering period, if in the ground, however, only periodically, especially during periods of great heat and prolonged drought.
Pruning must be done every year, usually around middle of May because it is when we can be sure that there will not be terrible frosts, at least not until the following winter which is still far away. At this point, dry or damaged branches must be cut while long, too thin branches must be shortened a little.
When you want to multiply the Brugmansia, the cutting technique is used which gives good results without wasting too much time.
In all plants belonging to the same genus as the Brugmansia they contain tropane alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine, hyoscyamine which cause an anticholinergic syndrome if the flowers are ingested. It can be very dangerous to eat in large quantities Brugmansia arborea, it can cause tachycardia, dry mouth, redness of the face, hyperthermia, visual changes but also delirium, hallucinations, convulsions and in the most serious cases coma and death.
It is difficult to establish in what doses becomes toxic this plant because it depends on the species in question and there are so many of them, if you keep in the recommended, minimum doses, this plant can boast of the healing properties of asthma and respiratory diseases. Let's not forget that the ancient Aztecs and Mayans used extracts of Brugmansia seeds because of their hallucinogenic effects.
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