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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Questions for the Week

Brugsmansia syn. Datura
by Jerry Parsons, Ph.D.
Horticulture Specialist, Texas Agricultural Extension Service in San Antonio

Desperate times and seemingly impossible situations call for drastic solutions. Folks are "desperate" for plants which will grow and hopefully bloom in the shade. With the deer and other wildlife varmints on the increase and ravenous when it comes to devouring our precious landscape plants, we are ready to use anything and everything which might grow and bloom in the shade yet escape the constant browsing of our Bambi "friends".

Realizing such plants must be distasteful, we must make plant selections from those that are labeled "poisonous". The term "poisonous" means that if enough (usually larger quantities than can be stomached or consumed because of distasteful attributes) of the plant and/or plant parts are eaten, an individual will become ill and possibly die.

Animals and children are usually repelled by the nasty-tasting plant after the first bite if they are curious enough or hungry enough to experience a taste. This aspect of plant protection is used by many of our favorite plants such as lantana and oleander.

Another plant which uses this defense mechanism and is on the verge of becoming a Texas favorite has an angelic name - Angel Trumpet. The Angel Trumpet is in the Brugmansia genus. Angel Trumpet is a Datura-type plant but with the added advantage of not producing the poisonous seed common with other Datura. The Angel Trumpet is repulsive to deer (except for the rubbing of velvet off antlers in the fall!), will grow and bloom in semi-shaded areas and, the most precious of all its attributes, emits a wonderful Angelic scent at sundown and into the evening hours while you are enjoying the cooling nighttime temperatures.

It is a dream-come-true-plant for Texas. It gets its name from the large, long, trumpet-shaped flowers which are abundant and emit a sweet, angelic-fragrance in the evening.

The large shrubs or small trees of Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia) are grown for their very large, fragrant, pendent trumpet flowers. They are still often found under the name Datura, but the true Datura are short lived, herbaceous plants with smaller, more upright flowers and capsular fruits that are usually prickly containing very poisonous seed. The Angel's Trumpet will be root-hardy (freeze to the ground most years but sprout again from the roots in the spring.) in most areas of Texas except in extreme north Texas.

Five or more species are currently attributed to Brugmansia, most originating in the Andes of northern South America, though even there they seem always to be associated with human habitation. They are evergreen or semi? evergreen and their leaves are large and soft, rather like tobacco leaves but smaller, and all parts of the plant are narcotic and poisonous. Remember, it is the dose that makes the poison! Some plants considered "poisonous" are narcotic or hallucinogenic if used in the correct "dosage", i.e., Mountain Laurel berries are deadly if chewed but were used to make a mescal-like drink by Indians who knew the safe "recipe-for-happiness".

Angel Trumpet prefers a warm to hot climate and a light,
fertile, well-drained soil. They are best grown as small trees. When young, they can be shaped into a single trunk or they can be kept trimmed as dense, rounded shrubs. Keep well-watered during the growing season. Whitefly and red spider mite populations should be controlled.


'Charles Grimaldi' Angel Trumpet is named after a Californian landscape designer, this 6 ft (1.8 m) tall hybrid cultivar ('Dr. Seuss' X 'Frosty Pink') has very large, pendulous, fragrant, pinkish yellow to salmon pink flowers, mainly from mid-fall (autumn) to spring. It has very large leaves and with age will form quite a thicket of stems.

'Frosty Pink' Angel Trumpet is a hybrid which has large, pale apricot?pink and white flowers and grows to around 6 ft (1.8 m) tall. It has large, pale green leaves and forms clumps of stems. The hybrid Brugmansia 'Ecuador Pink' is very similar, but has flowers of pastel pink

Ipomoea fistulosa Mart. ex Choisy

This interesting plant with a shrub like-growth habit is in the sweet potato family (Ipomoea). The scientific name is Ipomoea fistulosa. It grows in exceedingly dry places and can be considered a xeriscape plant. The bush morning glory is the most prolific bloomers of any of the summer perennials.

The plant is covered with medium?size, light pink blooms all summer. (There is also a white form.) Blooms last only one day but clusters of blooms are formed in the axil of every leaf. Plants can get 6 to 8 feet tall with multiple trunks. When hard frosts kill plants, the tops should be removed. In south central Texas, plants will sprout again from the hardy root system the following May. Once established, the bush morning glory is a tough, drought?tolerant and heat?tolerant plant. It blooms best in direct sun and will not bloom as well if receiving less than 8 to 10 hours of direct sun. Plants can be cut back monthly to encourage branching and increase blooming surface. Cutting back in July will reduce plant height and encourage a spectacular fall bloom.

In India, writings indicate: "It is not eaten by livestock (ducks, goats, cattle, buffalo, elephants, etc.), is easily propagated by stem cuttings and withstands periods of flooding and desiccation. It makes an ideal living fence and is easier to manage than the common alternatives: upright cacti succulent Euphorbias or thorny species of Acacia and Prosopis. Under dry conditions it does not seem capable of tolerating much competition but in water or mud it is highly competitive. Under wet conditions the stems become inflated and may be as thick as a human arm. These inflated stems are hard and not spongy as one might expect. Also, they are capable of rooting. In regions that are regularly flooded, Ipomoea fistulosa is often dominant and forms stands of several hectares. " In other words, this plant is tough and beautiful both in water and in drought and, in most instances, the deer won't eat it!!