One thing most gardeners enjoy is to experiment with growing new and different kinds of plants. Having been given a packet of seeds for ‘Angels Trumpet’ (Datura suaveolens) I am now set to see how I get on. I have always admired these gorgeous plants with their highly scented trumpet-shaped blooms, hence their common name. They are big, bold and beautiful but do need to be treated with care as every bit is poisonous. If you can cope with this these plants are wonderful for patio tubs being quick and easy to grow – just take care when touching the leaves and flowers as some people have experienced allergic reactions.
Daturas grow into tall plants with flowerheads that can be up to 30cms long. As such huge flowers are quite heavy the stems will need some kind of support. Container plants will need four or five canes inserted round the edge of the rim so as the stems get taller they can be tied in. Seeds should be sown between January and March into individual pots or modules as the plants don’t like root disturbance. Maintain a temperature of 15-20C. When the seedlings are large enough they should be transplanted into larger pots. They do well in either full sun or light shade but need sheltering from the wind. The golden rule is plenty of water during the summer months but as the weather gets colder keep them on the dry side. Feed regularly from about April with a liquid tomato fertiliser and you should enjoy a good display of flowers. It is important to keep them under glass until all danger of frost has passed.
These plants are tender and need to be overwintered in a warm greenhouse or conservatory. If they are too big you can do a bit of very gentle pruning. This should be as little as possible as the cut surfaces will weep during the winter months. Heavy pruning should be left until springtime. As a bonus they root well from cuttings so pot up any prunings. The best time for repotting is early spring before they are put outside for the season.