Angels Trumpet plants produce beautiful blooms in the summer, but you’ll need to be careful watering it. It needs to be kept in moist soil that never gets too wet to prevent both shriveling and root rot. It also needs to be kept away from children and pets, as it is highly toxic.
Angels Trumpet Overview
|Common Names||Angels Trumpet, Trumpet of Death, Angels Star|
|Ideal Temperature||Above 35 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Toxicity||Highly toxic to people and pets|
|Light||Full sun with partial shade in hot climates|
|Watering||Maintain moist soil|
|Humidity||Moderate to high|
Caring for Your Angels Trumpet
This is a thirsty plant that will need its soil to be kept continually moist throughout the growing season. This can be a tough balancing act because while you obviously don’t want to underwater your plant and starve it, you also need to make sure not to overwater it. The Angels Trumpet is susceptible to root rot, so in order to prevent this, you will need to be sure not to overwater your plant while still providing it with an adequate amount of water.
The best way to do this is by ensuring your Angels Trumpet is planted in an appropriate growing medium. In the case of this plant, well-draining soil is essential to make sure any water that is surplus to the plant's requirements can easily drain away, preventing the plant from sitting in soggy soil and developing root rot. For detailed advice on the best soil for this plant, see our soil section below.
Angels Trumpet plants ideally need to be grown in acidic soil, with a pH range of 5.5 to 7. Though it will grow in alkaline soil, it will not do as well as it would in acidic soil. The plant is not drought-resistant and needs to be kept continually moist; given this plant’s water requirements, it is absolutely essential that a well-draining soil is used to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.
If you are planting the Angels Trumpet directly into the ground, then use potting soil, as regular garden soil will not drain well enough. You could add sand to your soil mix to improve the drainage. For plants kept in a container, use a potting mix designed for azaleas, as they have similar needs to Angels Trumpets when it comes to soil
This plant is native to tropical parts of South America and so is comfortable with warm temperatures. If you intend for the Angels Trumpet to be grown in the ground in your garden, then it is only suitable for warm climates where temperatures do not drop below 35° F at any time of year. It is not frost-resistant, so it will die back if it is left in very cold temperatures throughout winter. This plant thrives in the moderate to high heat of summer days, and when kept in these conditions, it can produce wonderful blooms all summer long.
A long and warm summer can also result in impressive growth from the Angels Trumpet, so if you are keen to gain some height or spread from your plant, then keep your fingers crossed for a good summer. If kept in ideal conditions, the plant can grow in the region of six to ten feet in just one season. Fortunately for many of us, this plant can also be successfully grown in colder climates providing it is grown in a pot and is brought indoors for winter. Angels Trumpets grown in pots tend to be smaller and have more of a shrub-like appearance than a tree.
Light requirements for the Angels Trumpet plant will differ depending on the type of climate they are in. They enjoy lots of light, but if you are in an especially hot climate, then the plant will need to be protected from the full heat of the sun in the afternoon with some shade. In cooler regions, this plant will be perfectly happy to sit in full sun all day long. Plenty of light is essential to the production of plentiful flowers, so a continually shaded position won’t be good for this plant. A combination of partial shade and full sun will usually work for most
Like most plants which produce large amounts of blooms, the Angels Trumpet relies heavily on frequent applications of fertilizer (University of Arkansas- Division of Agriculture).
Smaller plants can be fertilized weekly throughout summer, while larger plants can be fed twice or even three times each week. Choose a fertilizer specifically developed for flowering plants, or one that is high in phosphorus as this is the vital nutrient found in fertilizer that stimulates bud and bloom development. Avoid fertilizers with a high nitrogen content as these will encourage foliage growth over flower growth.
A liquid fertilizer is the best type to use for an Angels Trumpet as it delivers the nutrients to the plant immediately on application. A slow-release fertilizer is not appropriate for this plant as the nutrients get released gradually, and this will not adequately meet the plant’s demand for food.
. They will grow year-round on the plant in warmer climates, or throughout spring, summer, and fall in cooler temperatures. The flowers tend to bloom in groups, with a new group being produced every few weeks. This makes for quite a stunning display, when masses of flowers all seem to bloom simultaneously.
Measuring in between six and ten inches in length, with the look of a drooping bugle, it’s not hard to see where this plant got its common name of Angels Trumpet. In terms of color, the flowers produced by this plant can be found in shades of white, yellow, orange, and pink (The Evergreen State College- The Secret Life of Plants).
Hummingbirds are attracted to these blooms, so it’s a good plant to grow if you like to encourage birds in your garden. Another great feature of the Angels Trumpet flowers is their scent. They have a sweet and alluring fragrance, which is particularly strong in the evening. For this reason, many people position these plants in spots where their scent can be enjoyed, such as by a bench, near a footpath, or next to an outdoor dining area.
Pruning is not essential for this plant, though it is beneficial in encouraging the growth of new flowers or creating a particular shape. The Angels Trumpet plant is often grown into the style of a tree. To achieve this, allow the plant to grow into a ‘Y’ shape, which it will naturally do, and then, begin to prune.
Be careful not to trim branches too short, always keeping at least six nodes on a stem, as these are where the flowers will bloom the following year. Fall is the ideal time to give your plant a full pruning, though you can lightly prune away old, dead, or damaged branches throughout the year. Pruning the plant will result in more flower production, so if you’re keen to enjoy a lush season of blooms, then be sure to cut back some of your plant. As the Angels Trumpet grows so quickly during the growing season, you don’t need to be afraid of pruning, remembering that it is beneficial for the plant.
Creating new Angels Trumpet plants can be easily achieved with stem cuttings. Take a cutting of a few inches long with a clean and sharp blade. Remove all of the leaves except for a few at the tip. At this point, you can dip the raw cut end of the stem in rooting hormone to improve your chances of successful propagation, but this plant generally roots quite easily without this step.
Plant the stem into moist potting soil and place it in a warm but dimly lit environment. Try to maintain high humidity and moist soil. One way to achieve this is by covering the plant in a plastic bag, as it will trap moisture and increase humidity around the plant like a tiny glass house. After a few weeks, the cutting should have developed roots, and will be ready to be transplanted to a larger and more permanent pot and also to be moved into a position of full sun. Once you have reached this stage with your cutting, you can continue care as you usually would with an Angels Trumpet plant.
This fast-growing plant, when grown in a container, can need repotting as frequently as every year. If you bring your plant inside for winter, the best time to repot is before you return the plant back outside in spring. For Angels Trumpets taht grow in containers all year round, early spring will be the best time to repot.
To repot your plant, pull it from its current pot and brush away as much old soil as possible. Try to separate some of the roots without causing too much damage and proceed in planting the root ball into a new and slightly larger pot surrounded with fresh potting soil. As a very thirsty and hungry plant, the soil is likely to be spent after just a year, so it’s good for the plant to have a soil refresh.
If you plan to move your potted Angels Trumpet inside each winter, then it’s advisable to use a plastic pot. This is because they are lightweight and make the move much easier. The plant can grow to be very heavy, so added to a stone or ceramic pot they may be quite difficult to move. For the same reason, don’t use a pot any bigger than around 18 inches in diameter. This will prevent the plant from becoming too large and unmanageable.
If your root ball becomes tight on space in an 18-inch pot, you can reduce the size of the root ball manually by cutting back the roots while repotting, and then, putting it back into a pot of the same size. Always wear gloves when handling the Angels Trumpet plant as all parts of the plant are extremely toxic, and you can get poisoned just from touching it.
If you live in a climate where temperatures drop to below freezing, then you’ll need to bring your Angels Trumpet inside over winter, as it is not a frost-resistant plant. Make sure you plant your Angels Trumpet in a container so that it is easily portable. As temperatures start to approach freezing, start to water your plant less frequently and cease fertilizing to prepare it to go dormant. Prune it back to a manageable size to make it easier to move and to store. Don’t be afraid to prune heavily, as this plant responds well to being pruned and will quickly recover its size next growing season.
Before the first frost arrives, bring the plant inside. It needs to be in a dark place with a temperature range of 30° F to 45° F. A cellar, basement, or unused garage would be ideal. These conditions will make the plant enter a dormant state, allowing it to be preserved, ready to be brought back to its former glory the following spring. During its dormancy, do not feed the plant and water it only occasionally. The aim is to keep the soil barely moist, giving the roots just enough moisture to survive. The Angels Trumpet will grow very little, if at all, during this time, so be careful not to give it more water than it can cope with.
When spring arrives, you will need to prepare your plant to be moved back outside. There is usually some die-back during dormancy, so these parts of the plant can be pruned off. If you’re unsure which parts of the plant are dead and which still viable, use a sharp blade to scrape back the top layer of the woody stem. If you find a vibrant green layer underneath then, it’s a healthy branch and does not need to be pruned.
Before the plant goes back outside, it will need to be repotted. This process is to stimulate the roots ready for new growth and to provide the plant with new soil and fresh nutrients. Remove the plant from its current pot and brush away as much of the old dry soil as possible. If you are going to use a pot the same size as the old one, you will need to cut the root ball back to create some space in the pot for new soil. Use a knife to trim the root ball, removing an inch or two from the sides and underneath. If you want to use a bigger pot then cutting the root ball back is not necessary.
Massage the remaining roots between your fingers to help separate them and prepare them for new growth. Fill the bottom of your new pot with fresh, well-draining potting soil that has been pre-moistened. Lower your root ball into the pot and fill the surrounding edges with more moist potting soil until the plant is well-supported. The potting soil should cover the root ball completely and come to an inch or two below the top rim of the pot.
Water the plant heavily to help the soil settle and add fertilizer to help kickstart the plant out of its dormant state. Some people like to gradually reintroduce the plant to the outside, placing it in a shaded spot and then, moving it slowly into a sunnier spot every few days, until it reaches its final position in a high sun spot. This may help the plant readjust to life outside but isn’t entirely necessary, and the plant should spring back to life fairly quickly without this step.
This plant is extremely toxic to both pets and people and so, should be treated with great caution. If you have pets or children roaming in your garden, then the plant should be positioned in an area that they cannot access, or refrain from growing this plant at all. The leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, seeds, and roots of this plant are all highly poisonous; the worst effects result from ingesting the plant, but you can also come to harm by simply touching the plant as the harmful microscopic elements can be absorbed through the eyes or the nose (for example, if you touch your face after touching the plant with your hands).
For this reason, always wear protective gloves when handling the plant, and position it in a place where people are not likely to inadvertently come into contact with it as they walk past. Symptoms that you have been poisoned by the plant include fever, hallucinations, depression, dry mouth, dilated pupils, rapid heart rate, blurred vision, abnormal behavior, and convulsions (Colorado State University- Veterinary Teaching Hospital).
The toxicity of this plant should not be taken lightly, as it can lead to paralysis and even death. At the first sign of having come into contact with this plant, get the help of a medical professional. Some people have become so concerned by the grave effects this plant can have that it has been banned from being grown in some areas.
Let us know if you have any questions about Angels Trumpet, and don’t forget to share with your fellow horticulturists!