New gardeners start with the easy stuff, then move on to plants that need pruning, specialist soil or are picky about temperature or irrigation. I’ve done my time shooting for success with vegetation recommended for my situation and now I’m branching out. Conservatories and greenhouses bring out the nerd in all of us and I’m here to tell you that I am not immune, no better than some and no worse than many other anoraks.
Brugmansia (angel’s trumpet)
This week’s hagiography is brought to you by Brugmansias (angel’s trumpet), which used to be called Datura, until the botanists warmed up their microscopes and blew the dust off their gene sequencers. I’ve thrown away specimens that I couldn’t bring to bloom. In the end, a gift from daughter Cineraria took me to Google for advice. The Royal Horticultural Society calls this an easy specimen to keep. I fear that these people are sadly deluded or at least, better gardeners than I am. I dowsed between the many and varied offers of advice. Should you wish to give it a go, I would like to distil what I’ve learned.
Brugmansia (angel’s trumpet) up close
Plants prefer an annual re-pot in spring, or at least top dressing the upper-most 7 cm (3 inches) of soil with fresh compost. I lard mine with “Gro Sure” fertiliser, together with a sprinkling of fish, blood and bone for luck. I chop back in early winter, after flowering has finished. Failure to do this will result in four months of looking at a very large twig. Winter minimum night temperature is 7-10 degrees C, daytime 10-12 degrees C. Prune until the plant forms a “Y”, then never, ever cut below the bifurcation. Trim to within 2.5cm (1 inch) of older wood. Remember that all parts of the plant are highly toxic and that the sap may be an irritant. Don’t pinch out the growing tips, since this retards blooming. Just resign yourself to admiring the beast with binoculars. The blossom is supposed to be fabulously perfumed but that high up, you can’t smell them.
Brugmansia (angel’s trumpet) buds
Once foliage starts in spring, water twice a week. As growth gets busy, increase to daily dowsing but don’t over water, or they’ll drop their leaves. In August, add tomato fertiliser to the watering can, once a fortnight. I’ve found that buds form better when specimens are grown in good sunshine. Shower the greenery now and again, out of bright light and damp down the floor if the weather turns particularly hot. Chance would be a fine thing. Various bugs cause lacy, moth eaten leaves; introduce biological control or spray the bastards with insecticide, without mercy. Get busy with this task as soon as you notice the first tooth marks, since delay will leave you with herbage looking like bunting. This has been a great deal of faff and no end of trouble. Was it worth it? You tell me.
I fell and injured myself; not from toppling from a tree or too much spade work but by tripping in the kitchen. Until broken bones set, I shall be taking a break from blogging, when I can type with two hands. Thank you for reading my waffle, gardeners are the best people on Earth.