Brugmansia (broog-MAN-zee-ah), better known as the angel trumpet plant, is a curious genus of 7 species and 2 major hybrids divided into cold type and warm type plants.
Some love the fact that all seven species are extinct in the wild and they’re preserving them, others because of the huge trumpet-shaped flowers that tend to be anywhere from 6 to 15” inches long, while some prefer the increasing types on Brugmansia of cultivars, such as the dwarf cultivars.
But whatever your love for these wonderful perennials, one thing’s certain – having just one is like having an Oreo cookie without the filling.
Angel Trumpet Propagation – How to Propagate Brugmansia
The good news is that brugmansia is pretty easy to propagate.
While mainly done through stem cuttings, you can also use seeds and even air layering to ensure you have more angel trumpets next year.
Two things you will need to know are what a “Y” is and what growth nodes look like.
Growth nodes look like scars, bumps, or even a small green nub of new leaves.
These are necessary for new growth on a plant unless it’s started from seed.
Likewise, the “Y” is a branching of young growth with leaves on either side and usually a bloom growing between.
It’s not to be confused with normal branching of older growth.
Best Method: Stem Cuttings
Brugmansias actually love a lot of pruning, so propagating using your stem cuttings is perhaps the fastest and easiest method out there.
Just be sure to wear protective gloves and goggles, as the sap can be an irritant to most people and harmful to the eyes.
You’ll want to cut a segment 4 to 6” inches long with growth nodes visible.
The cutting will need to be taken at a 45° degree angle when rooting in water.
It’s not necessary for there to be leaves on the cutting, but if there are, you’ll want to strip all but the top 2 to 3 leaves.
While slightly shorter segments can be planted horizontally ¾ of the diameter in soil, this method has a much higher risk of failure and is best left for experienced growers with an adventurous streak.
Fill a 6″ to 8” inch pot with drainage holes with potting soil and moisten it slightly.
Plant the cutting 2” inches deep and firm the soil around it.
You may also wish to create a plastic humidity tent over the cutting to help insulate it.
Keep the plant in a warm, bright spot and check frequently to ensure it stays moist but not wet.
After 2 to 3 weeks, you can give it a gentle tug, with properly rooting plants showing resistance.
After another week or so, you’ll start to see new growth if the rooting was successful, or signs of rot if it failed.
Rooting Angel Trumpets In Water
Add a bit of rooting hormone and put the cutting in a clear jar of fresh, room temperature distilled water immediately.
Place the jar in a warm room with bright, indirect sunlight and change the water every 1 to 2 days.
After a week or two, you’ll see the nubs of new roots appear.
You can transplant to soil once the roots are about 1” inch long or keep it in water for a few more months.
When transplanting, water it heavily at first, giving it less each time until it’s acclimated to a proper amount of water.
Species Only Method: Seeds
This method is best used only with the 7 main species or you’ll get a surprise plant instead of the one you harvested from.
You can optionally remove the corklike outer casing to speed germination.
Soak the seeds in a glass of distilled water with 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria or fungi.
Use a sterile potting soil or equal mix of peat and coarse sand, gently pressing the seeds into the soil but not covering them.
That little bit of light exposure (and keeping the soil lightly damp) can help speed germination, and you should clearly mark the parent plant in case you get a surprise.
The seedlings will germinate in 2 to 4 weeks (they’ll usually shed the casing on their own, but may need some gentle help if the casing doesn’t fall off).
Place in their own pots once they’ve developed their second set of leaves.
Adventurous Method: Air Layering
It’s rare to use air layering on non epiphytes, but brugmansias are a fun exception.
Not only can air layering be enjoyable to watch, but it can allow you to bring part of your tree indoors for winter and possibly have two plants come spring.
Locate a part of the trunk with growth nodes and measure down approximately 24 to 30” inches below a “Y”.
Cut a small, diagonal notch in the bark and wrap a peat pot around the incision (just cut a hole in the bottom and a slit down the side), adding some rooting hormone to the incision.
Fill the pot with peat moss or potting soil and wrap it all in clear plastic wrap. You may need to tape the bottom of the wrap if the pot tries to slide.
Keep the soil evenly moist and you’ll begin to see roots in a couple weeks.
Once the roots are clearly visible, remove the plastic wrap and cut the branch just below the peat pot.
Place the peat pot in a regular pot and fill around it with potting mix, then place in a spot with light shade until the plant has established itself.
If you did this close to the base of the tree, you can cover the stump in a thick layer of mulch for the winter and it might grow back, giving you an extra plant.
You can air layer more than one branch for multiple new plants, and while you can use a plastic pot, peat pots make it easier to observe the root development and will eventually degrade into the soil once placed in a larger pot.