HOW TO OVER-WINTER BRUGMANSIA
Commonly known as the ‘Angels Trumpet’ – and for good reason to – this spectacular native of South America is a stunning addition to any tropical effect garden.
Often confused with its close relation the Datura, the Brugmansia is distinctly different in that it can grow as large into a small tree whereas Datura's are annuals and will only attain the size of a small bush. In addition, the majority of Brugmansia will display their dramatic flowers pointing downwards while those of a Datura will point upwards.
In the cold winter climates of northern Europe and North America the subtropical Brugmansia is highly unlikely to survive without the help of increased global warming, and so for now your only option is to give it a helping hand.
You can begin preparing Brugmansias for overwintering from the end of September by slowly reducing the amount of water they receive. If they are growing in the ground then carefully lift the plant and pot it on into a suitably sized container. Give it a good watering initially, but the plant will still need its watering sufficiently reduced afterwards to help bring it into a state of dormancy. It is also a good idea to reduce the plants canopy by 1/3rd to help reduce water loss from its core through transpiration.
Keep an eye on overnight temperatures because Brugmansias can be severely damaged by frost. You will need to have brought them in under protection before frosts occur otherwise you will risk losing the entire plant. However, because Brugmansias can reach a fairly unwieldy size over the course of the year, it is likely that they will need a fairly severe pruning before bringing it inside. You can be quite brutal here as Brugmansias will readily grow back in the spring. Remember that the more you can trim it back - the easier it will be to deal with.
A word of caution with regards to Brugmansia –and it’s not about their well-known toxic nature – is their attractiveness to insect pests. Before bringing inside it is best to check the plant over and remove any pests that may themselves be hoping to overwinter in the leaves, stems and even the root system. Spray with an organic insecticide or remove all the leaves before placing the plant into a cool, dry, frost-free position - such as a basement - where it can be allowed to go dormant. It is important that temperatures do not drop below about 5 degrees Celsius during this period.
Check every few weeks to make sure the soil doesn't dry out too much and only water as necessary to keep the soil slightly moist.
In the spring, once the danger of frosts are over, move over-wintered Brugmansias back outside or plant in the ground for the following season.