If you are new to the Deep South, you might this Holiday season see for the first time the glorious Angel’s Trumpet bush. Actually, the plant is considered a perennial, not a bush, but because it grows so large many people think of it as a bush.
It seems absolutely fitting that the plant bloom during the Christmas season since its blooms do resemble long trumpets of the angels. However, it isn’t that the plant naturally wants to bloom at Christmas; rather, it is because it is a tropical plant that likes warm days and cool nights that we see so many blooms in the month of December.
A healthy Angel’s Trumpet, in full bloom, really is a sight to be seen. The flowers on my plant grow over nine inches long. The plant usually starts sporadically blooming in September which is just perfect for the hummingbirds here on the Gulf Coast. The tiny birds need flowers such as the Angel’s Trumpet in order to fatten themselves up for the flight across the Gulf.
My Angel’s Trumpet is yellow. However, the plant comes in many colors, including pink, purple, and apricot. The most common flower color is white.
As stated earlier, the Angel’s Trumpet is often called a shrub because of its size but actually it is a perennial. Once the weather gets below freezing, which it usually does for a week or so each year here in Mobile, the plant dies back and then must be cut back to a stump. Never fear, the Angel’s Trumpet will blow its horn again! As the weather warms in spring, new growth will emerge, and the Angel’s Trumpet will begin again.
However, it must be noted that the plant is very tender. While it can accept the weather of zone 8 south where the nights go below freezing but the days do not, planting an Angel’s Trumpet in any higher zone would most likely require that the plant be placed in a pot and moved indoors during the winter.
Another point worth noting is that the plant is highly poisonous. While the tiny hummingbird may eat the Angel’s Trumpet’s nectar, we humans must be very careful around this plant. It comes from the “deadly nightshade” family, thus, it would behoove a gardener to wear gloves when working with it because the leaves alone are poisonous. I have heard the tale of a woman who had saved some seeds from one Angel’s Trumpet on her window sill. The seeds fell in her cake batter. She saw what had happened and picked out all of the seeds. Nevertheless, the family became gravely ill. Obviously, this is not a plant to have around small children or animals.
The only problem I’ve ever had with this plant is that it attracts grasshoppers and other bugs. Its foliage is often bitten full of holes by insects. So while the “deadly nightshade” factor will even kill a human, insects thrive upon it. Since I am one to forgo the use of insecticides, I just live with the plant being full of holes much of the time. Sometimes I spray it with soap which does seem to help. Another thing which helps is to keep the area around the plant clean of leaves and debris in the springtime so that the baby grasshoppers won’t use the area as a place to hatch or thrive. We in the Gulf Coast area have our share of problems with those giant grasshoppers – the kind that don’t die even when hit by a brick – and the Angel’s Trumpet leaves are caviar to this pest.
Otherwise, it is a very low care plant. Hack it down once it freezes over, and it will return in spring. I suggest planting spring bulbs at its feet to bloom as it returns. You will get years of enjoyment from an Angel’s Trumpet, especially in late fall here in the Deep South where the Angel’s Trumpet herald’s in the Christmas season.
Source: Personal Knowledge as a Gardener