Tropical plants have become all the rage in US gardens – and with good reason: Their gorgeous lush appearance makes most of us long for a stretch of sandy beach, a hammock and a cool ocean breeze to help us enjoy the good life. While most tropicals have sumptuous foliage, a number are grown for their stunning flowers. Of these, angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia aurea) is perhaps the most spectacular!

Angel's trumpets in garden

Angel’s trumpet needs plenty of room to grow in the warm-climate garden!

Photo Credit: Gerald L. Klingaman

Angel's Trumpet flowers

The trumpet-shaped flowers reach about a foot long and last about a week.

Photo Credit: Gerald L. Klingaman

This large shrub or small tree has big, coarse-textured leaves that reach about 8 inches long, giving the plant a “jungle feel.” In its natural South American environment, it can reach 20 feet tall and wide in the wild – but it only gets about half that size in a most gardens.

While the entire plant is glorious in its own right, angel trumpet’s main claim to fame is its incredible foot-long, yellow-, pink- or salmon-colored, trumpet-shaped blooms. These fragrant, tubular flowers are borne singly and hang downward from their stems. The basal half of the floral tube is enclosed in a green calyx. Since so many cultivated forms of this plant have been extensively hybridized, you can now even find angel’s trumpet blooming with peach, red or white flowers. Some double-flowered forms are now even available. While the flowers bloom from spring until fall, the heaviest flowering is actually in autumn.

As beautiful as this amazing tropical plant is, one very important thing to note is all parts of the plant are toxic. So always watch your children and pets carefully around this plant!

Angel’s trumpet only grows as a woody plant in frost-free areas of the US, although it can be grown just about anywhere as an annual. While all varieties are frost-tender, those from higher elevations will make it through the winter as far north as Zone 7 if the roots are protected over winter. A thick layer of straw or similar mulch will prevent the soil from freezing and protect the roots. In colder parts of the country, potted plants can be cut back severely and kept just moist over winter in a cool greenhouse or bedroom.

Come spring, plant your Brugmansia when you set out your tomatoes (an angel’s trumpet relative), and give your plant a sunny site with fertile, well-drained soil and ample water during summer. Overly exuberant or very slow growth results in few flowers, with the latter the most common cause of poor flowering. Spider mites are the most serious pest – especially indoors during the winter – but you can get rid of them if you take the proper precautions.

Large, bold and beautiful, angel’s trumpet may be just the plant you’re looking for to launch yourself into the popular tropical gardening trend. With lots of space, sun, water and a little bit of love, it’s sure to be the envy of your neighborhood!