Datura - Angel's Trumpet, Jimson Weed, Thorn Apple
DESCRIPTION: These annual and tender, shrubby, perennial flowering plants are natives of tropical America, Europe and Mexico. The most familiar kind is Datura (Brugmansia) arborea, which produces large, white, fragrant blooms in the summer; it is a great plant for tubs. The perennial shrubby kinds can grow up to 10 feet tall, have woody stems, large ovate leaves and produce yellow, red, pink or white trumpet-shaped flowers in the summer. The annual kinds can grow about 3 feet tall, have large, ovate leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers in red, pink or white and some have white blooms that are tinged with pink or lilac. D. Stramonium, the Jimson Weed or Thorn Apple provides an important drug with narcotic, anodyne and antispasmodic properties, commonly known as Stramonium. It's a coarse-growing plant found wild as a weed in most parts of the U.S. Its juice is poisonous and eating wilted plants is likely to be fatal. In 2-3 months this plant can grow to 2 or 3 feet high and about the same in width. Jimson Weed has large, long-stalked, heart-shaped leaves with wavy margins and white, tube-shaped flowers that are followed by large, egg-shaped, spiny fruits filled with black, kidney-shaped seeds.
POTTING: The tender perennials are grown in a greenhouse having a minimum winter temperature of 45 degrees. They can be planted outside where little or no frost occurs or they can be brought indoors for the winter. They are grown in large pots or tubs, or they're planted in a prepared bed in the greenhouse. The shoots are trained to wires that are attached to the wall. While they are young, they are repotted often until they're large enough for tubs. Once they're established they can be watered weekly with liquid fertilizer during the summer. Shade is required only for newly potted plants. After the flowers have died, the side shoots should be shortened by two thirds. In the winter just enough water should be given to keep the stems from withering. The annual kinds are great for the mixed flower border during the summer. They should be planted outside in rich soil and in full sun.
PROPAGATION: The perennial kinds can be propagated by inserting cuttings of young shoots in a greenhouse in the spring. The annual kinds can be increased by seeds that are sown in light soil in a greenhouse in March. The small plants are transplanted individually in small pots and are planted outside as soon as it's safe to plant tomato plants outdoors. In the South the seeds may be sown directly outside.
VARIETIES: The perennial shrubby kinds - D. arborea; D. sanguinea; D. suaveolens; D. chlorantha; D. cornigera.
The annual kinds - D. Metel; D. Metel rubra; D. meteloides.
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