How To Grow And Care For The Datura Plant

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The Datura plant is native to the South, Central, and North American regions. This large plant has pale, grayish-green leaves and white, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom at night.

The Datura finds itself associated with plant names and similar species such as Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet) or the Devil’s Trumpet.

close up of Datura flower reaching to the sunPin

But these poisonous plants come with a marked difference.

While the Brugmansia or Angels Trumpet plant has downward-facing trumpets, the Datura flowers point upward, facing the sky.

Plant experts define the plant as having remarkable flowers shaped like a large trumpet 6-8″ inches in diameter, tinged with either a snowy white or dark, royal purple.

The surrounding bluish-grey foliage makes it unique from other plant species in its group.

The lush, heavy bloom of the Datura is unmatched and a magnificent sight to see, especially around March to November. Its exceptional beauty makes it popular among garden enthusiasts and landscapers.

Several species of Datura interest plant lovers. The Jimson weed, or the Datura stramonium grows along roadsides and pastures across North America.

It goes by various common names such as:

  • Devil’s Trumpet plant
  • Thorn Apple
  • Stinkweed
  • Devil Weed
  • Hell Bell
  • Datura Moonflower

Classified as an annual, the Jimson weed produces purple or snowy white blooms.

Datura discolor, or the Desert Datura grows in northern Mexico and Arizona’s Sonoran Desert regions. The feathery white flower features a complementary purple throat.

The petals are fused to form a funnel with 5 or 10 lobes. The furled, cigar-shaped flower buds unwind after dusk (vespertine), and the flowers remain open until about noon of the following day, when the petals begin to decline.

The Sacred Datura grows from Mexico through California and into Oklahoma. Its white blooms sport a slight tinge of pink on the inside and a slight bluish tint on the outside.

The Asian Datura (the Datura metal or purple datura) has many color varieties – purple, white, yellow, white, purple, and sometimes twin flowers.

Datura Plant Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Datura spp.
  • Common Name(s): Angel’s Trumpet, Devil’s Trumpet, Moonflower, Thorn Apple, Stinkweed, Devil Weed, Hell Bell, Datura Moonflower
  • Synonyms: Brugmansia spp.
  • Pronunciation: Buh-too-ruh
  • Family & Origin: Solanaceae family, native South, Central, and North American regions
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 5-10
  • Size: Can grow from 4 to 15 feet tall
  • Flowering: Blooms with trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom at night
  • Light: Full sun
  • Humidity: Regular moisture, preferably 50% or higher
  • Temperature: 50° or 60° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Moist, rich, well-drained soil
  • Water: Keep soil moist but not waterlogged
  • Fertilizer: Use weak liquid plant food once a week
  • Pests & Diseases: Whiteflies, mealybugs and spider mites can be a problem. Can be susceptible to root rot.
  • Propagation: Can be propagated by seed pods or side shoot cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Ornamental plant, medicinal plant (used in traditional medicine for pain relief and as a sedative)

Other species include: Datura inoxia

The following round off other known Datura names:

  • Horn of Plenty
  • Downy Thorn Apple
  • Indian Apple
  • The Floripondio

Caring For The Datura Plant

Most members of the genus Datura are hardy perennial plants but are also grown as annual plants. The United States Department of Agriculture lists the Datura in hardiness zone 5 to 7 as an annual and hardiness zone 8 to 10 as a perennial.

Planting Datura requires full sun coupled with moist, rich, well-drained soil. As a tropical species, they thrive in the warmer months and don’t like frost or winter months.

It needs regular moisture, preferably 50% or higher. It also prefers temperatures around 50° or 60° degrees Fahrenheit.

If left by themselves in winter, every datura leaf will drop, and the plant often dies.

Datura plants, members of the Solanaceae family that includes the tomato, will benefit from extra water during the growing season; the soil should stay moist.

In the winter months, reduce watering but not to the point the soil completely dries out. Come winter season, the Datura may go deciduous.

Pot them in light, well-drained soil. A weak liquid plant food once a week could encourage blooming.

Frost and cold pose the only “growing” weakness of this otherwise easy-to-grow plant. The Datura can tolerate poor soil conditions and survive a little drought.

In partial shade, it may become leggy and not produce many flowers. They resist the majority of pests. However, they may occasionally be attacked by whiteflies, mealybugs, and spider mites.

Pruning leggy stems to maintain plant shape.

You may also like: Red Angel Trumpet Brugmansia Sanguinea

Datura Flower Propagation

Propagate with Datura seed pods or side shoot cuttings (like Brugmansia). However, most gardeners normally buy the Datura as a plant and transfer them into their own garden.

The Datura grows aggressively, repot each spring season into a larger pot with similar soil types.

A full-grown Datura can reach heights of 8′ feet tall, making it difficult to manage repotting.

Scrape off the top inch or two of soil and replace it with fresh soil. You may also add time-release fertilizer at this point.

Starting From Seeds:

After collecting the datura seedlings from brown seed pods, scarify them by carefully scraping the seeds with a knife. This will help the germination process.

Afterward, soak the seeds in a thermos with warm water for 24 hours.

Place the datura seeds in a tray with a thin vermiculite or compost layer.

Give them enough light and heat while keeping them moist but not soggy. Check the seeds daily for three to eight weeks and see if they have germinated.

Sow seeds 1/4″ inch deep indoors around mid-March. Transplant seedlings to the garden about May 10, four feet apart.

Remember, the juice from the Devil’s trumpet plant is poisonous. More below.

Datura Plants A Toxic Beauty

Datura owners will certainly appreciate the full, fantastic blooms on the flowering plants in their garden, but beware, as its beauty comes at a price.

Datura plants, as a whole, are very toxic when consumed. Both man and animal alike will find the leaves, seeds, and attractive blooms all poisonous.

Seed capsules on branches that have been severed or damaged after fertilization has occurred often will continue to ripen. 

Stories about Datura poisoning in areas where they thrive are a bit saddening but true.

You’ll have to put up a protective fence to keep your children or beloved pets away once you decide that the advantages far outweigh the Datura plant’s lethal disadvantages.

Claims of physical effects, pupil dilation, hallucinations, increased heart rate, accidental poisoning, dizziness, and more are some of the reported symptoms.

Datura species contain tropane alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. Alkaloids are a diverse group of plant metabolites with compounds including hallucinogenic substances such as opiates.

Rumors of the Datura plant’s toxicity make it a potent hallucinogenic used as a drug.

This misinformation plays a large part in people wanting to try and smoke the Datura for its supposed effect.

All levels of consumption with no known “safe level” for humans or animals exist when eating the Datura. There are no more digestible forms and no known method of extracting the hallucinogenic properties of this plant.

In growing Datura plants, everyone in the household needs to know of their toxic properties.

Datura plant owners should make it clear that all parts are poisonous and can prove to be fatal when eaten.

In other words, do not even attempt to consume! The one who tends it should also be mindful of wearing gloves all the time.

Principal Datura Species

DATURA – A genus of annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, or trees belonging to the Nightshade or Solanaceae Family.

When considering its use in the landscape, remember that all parts of the plant are deadly poison. Practically, sacred Datura is not often accidentally consumed by humans or animals. 

They are mostly coarse, strong-smelling plants, but a few are grown for the sake of their large white trumpet flowers.

They are of easy cultivation, some being treated as tender annuals. The woody Datura species are propagated by cuttings.

Datura arborea is treelike to 15′ ft., with soft-hairy leaves to 8″ inches long and white green-veined flowers to 9″ inches long.

Cornigera grows to 4′ feet and is almost entirely covered with soft down.

The leaves are chiefly at the ends of the branches, and the white or creamy flowers are very fragrant at night. The floral lobes are terminated by a long spreading or recurved point.

Datura metel (known to many gardeners as Datura cornucopia) is an annual to 5′ ft., with large often double flowers, whitish inside and violet outside, with a purple calyx.

Datura Metel Illustration from L'Illustration Horticole 1895Pin
Datura Metel Illustration from L’Illustration Horticole 1895

stramonium (Thorn-apple, Jimsonweed) is a tropical annual to 5 ft., naturalized in parts of this country. It has erect white or violet flowers and very prickly fruit. Seeds were first collected in Jamestown Virginia.

suaveolens, tree-like to 15 ft., is often grown in pots undercover and frequently confused with Datura arborea. However, it has larger and smoother leaves, distinguishing sweet-scented flowers to a foot long, with an inflated calyx.

inoxia  – native to Central and South America

Datura wrightii or sacred datura, is classified as a deliriant and an anticholinergic.

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