How To Grow & Maintain Brugmansia In Central Florida
I’m in Gulfport and have been growing brugs here for over 15 years. On the surface, brugs seem deceptively easy to grow. They root from nothing more than sticks, are easy to grow from seed and grow like weeds when temps are between 50 – 80 degrees. So, they like Florida in the Fall, Winter and Spring – if we don’t have a freeze, then its mush city if you don’t haul everything inside. During their happy growth phase, they’re little fertilizer pigs. Enough is never enough. You get lots of flowers, lots of broadmites, spider mites and insect activity, so spraying is essential.
Summer sucks. The sun is relentless, it either rains relentlessly or doesn’t for long stretches. These are thirsty plants, so regulating the amount of water they need is tricky. Because our humidity is so high, the tricky watering situation often leads to fungus damage on their trunks at ground level. Once that happens, all nutrients and liquid is cut off from any part of the plant above that damage. Unless you salvage the top growth via air layering, the tree dies. So, that’s a problem.
Brugs are stressed by extreme heat. They drop buds or cease producing buds, so very few flowers during the summer. They drop leaves to conserve their chosen balance of water uptake. Stress weakens their ability to resist fungus like fusarium, CDV and other pathogens. Systemic fungicides should be part of their regular regimen of care. The ideal growing situation light-wise is morning sun and afternoon shade. Also a tricky situation, if you have them in ground. I put mine in pots to keep them mobile.
Insects. Summer brings broadmites, spider mites, lubber grasshoppers, caterpillars, white-fly, aphids, borers, snails and slugs, you name it. Its imperative to know the kind of insect you’re dealing with and get it wiped out fast. Broadmites can denude a good sized brug in a couple of days. Snails and slugs will band trees and cut off access to water and nutrients.
After growing brugs for so many years, I’ve found that suavolean and versicolor types do best here. These are single corolla flowering brugs. Doubles and more genetically complex brugs are less likely to succeed unless monitored very carefully. Brugs of European origin especially fall into that category. Any yellow flowering brugs are also vulnerable. They tend to develop fungus more than the pinks, oranges or whites.
Cleary’s 3336F systemic fungicide (used as a drench or to paint full strength on trunks of full grown trees)
Bayer 3-in-1 insecticide
Banrot (fungicide for growing seeds)
Captan (fungicide for growing seeds)
Hormodin (for rooting difficult cuttings)
Bone meal (for flowering)
Osmocote (timed release fertilizer with trace elements)
Miracle Grow (each time you water)
Sluggo (Snail and slug bait)
Full water flush of pots every 4 weeks. To remove salts.