Brugmansia fever

I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t fall victim to it.  Only the real crazy gardeners get it, and I am not a crazy gardener.

I guess you could say that by default, I’ve developed a case of brugmansia fever.  I’m not particularly enamored with their monstrous fragrant blooms, which are very nice, but I am a big fan of their leaves and speed of growth.  The varieties that I have had success with are ‘Charles Grimaldi’ and ‘Rhapsody’.  CG is a very cold hardy variety, with slightly toothed leaves and yellow single-petaled blooms.  Rhapsody is similar, with maybe a bit fuzzier and darker leaves, but with deep red blooms.  It has proved to be a bit more sensitive to cold than CG.  I have several hybrid brugmansias growing in the ground, but none of them seem to be quite as vigorous as R or CG.

Brugmansia ‘Rhapsody’ cutting growing well

Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’ cuttings in a big new pot. Should be a brug forest in no time.

I am still fairly new to brugmansias, and this will be my first season going full tilt with them.  I started 15 cuttings this winter, and so far they all have done well.  Some of them have started to show some slug damage now that they’ve been outside for a while, as you can see on the CG mass planting above.  If there is one thing I dislike about where I live, it’s the amount of slugs there are.  They aren’t the little ones, either.  I’m talking big, like eat-your-cat size slugs.  I exaggerate just a little…

My brugmansia stumps are doing well too, showing new growth where just a dead stump was previously.

Rhapsody stump showing several new shoots. This one is underplanted with some Fuchsia ‘Dollar Princess’ and should look great this year.

My yellow hybrids that were started from seed aren’t quite as robust as the cutting-started plants.  They spent the winter in the greenhouse, and were hit pretty hard by aphids in December.  This will be their 2nd summer, so they should bloom.  I usually don’t get too excited about the blooms (I do get excited, just not TOO excited.  I’m not a brugmansia nut yet… right?) but they do signal that the plant is happy and healthy.

Yellow hybrid, looking better shot from a myspace angle. From the side it looks like a spindly stick with a few leaves on top.

Out of the 4 pink hybrids in the ground, only two seemed to have made it through the winter.  Either they aren’t quite as cold hardy of a variety, or the microclimates where each one was planted wasn’t quite right.  One that has survived is doing very well, though.

Brugmansia pink hybrid. Looking good!

I guess I probably wouldn’t have as many brugmansias if they weren’t so easy to propagate.  You always need a little bit of insurance, especially if you find a cultivar that works well for you.  I think I’ll just take one more cutting and put another brugmansia by the front door…


On to other plants.  It is spring, so a lot happens in a short amount of time.  One of my zonal denial plants seems to be doing better than some of the hardier plants.  Philodendron ‘Hope’ is growing quickly despite the chilly nights.  It is unfurling new leaves that look very tropical, which is a very comforting sight in mid-spring.

Philodendron ‘Hope’

Just a few feet away, one of the older Dahlia imperialis tubers has sprouted a second cane.  That’s 7 so far this spring, much more than I hoped for.

Dahlia imperialis, the tree dahlia. The first cane is fairly tall in the background, and a new one decided to poke it’s head out from under the chicken manure mulch just to the left of the old stump.

The Echium wildpretii x pininana hybrid has begun to bloom.  I was expecting this to happen later in the year, but echiums wait for no man.  I was also expecting more of a red or purple color, similar to E wildpretii.

Clearly, the pininana side of this hybrid won out with the blooms in cooler weather and bluer color petals.

I have one of the hybrids planted up against my garage, in an attempt to hide the electrical meter.  I’d rather look at plants than a metal box!

Echium wildpretii x pininana just starting to bloom. Right now the top of the spike is around 6 feet tall.

I have recently gained a new neighbor and competitor.
Not cool

This little nuisance has decided that some of my plants taste good, including my Echium candicans ‘Star of Madeira’.  I was very unhappy when I first saw the bloom spike hanging precariously.

Poor echium! First I neglect it, and then some rogue rabbit decides to eat your arm!

The banana belt is starting to look like it’s namesake.  Some of the larger bananas never froze back this winter, making the possibility of flowering and fruiting that much more achievable.  I was able to get a single banana flower last year, and I’m guess that this year will be even better.

The bananas (Musa basjoo) are already taller than the chain link fence after their first leaf. Two years ago that was their ultimate size!

While I do love bromeliads, I haven’t ever mentioned them.  I have a few of them, but my favorite is Alcantarea imperialis.  It is very cold hardy for a bromeliad, and the leaves are very large.  A mature specimen can reach up to 5 feet wide.  Mine isn’t nearly that large.  It is close though, at about 3 1/2 feet wide.  It has taken temperatures down to about 20 F overnight, but I don’t think I’ll risk that again.

Alcantarea imperialis. A little fertilizer this summer should fill it in nicely.

Late as usual, Hedychium ‘Tara’.  It’ll make up for it later with fast height in June.

Tara, you always show up late!

The Big Bob ground orchid has been doing it’s best to become lush despite the constant onslaught of bunny attacks.  One of the buds was even nibbled on!

Bletilla striata ‘Big Bob’. Poor Bob, always getting gnawed upon.

I will end today’s post with Oplopanax horridus, the Devil’s Club.  Newly emergent, it looks so delicate that you just want to touch it.  Give it a few weeks and those leaves will be huge and the spines will be hardened up.  You definitely don’t want to touch it.

Oplopanax horridus. Tropical looking, but native and extremely hardy.  And sharp.

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3 thoughts on “Brugmansia fever

  1. Amazing – your garden is looking very tropical. I’m curious to see that you have had a couple in the ground through winter – I thought they up and died at about 32F. The tree dahlia is going to be splendid, mine has just started to produce pendulous buds, and survived an early Autumn snowfall, so I’m holding real promise that it will flower – regardless, the leaves and growth rate are astounding!

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