Updated: Nov 2, 2021
"Fabulous!" is not exclaiming enough about these showy flowers on a very large "perennial" plant. Usually when I think of perennials, all too often they are mounding and quaint (yes, I know there is a lot of variety out there, but work with me here). In reality, this perennial, as some will reference, is actually a tropical shrub with woody branching and herbaceous, fuzzy stems. In their native environment, they remain evergreen, but for us in the Bay Area, angel's trumpet will typically be semi-deciduous or deciduous...in essence acting as a perennial due to the Bay Area's varied winter temperatures. Horticulturally, we still classify B.x candida as a shrub.
Few shrubs present these wonderous, dangling trumpets that can make one feel as if they've fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. Cultivars offer white, yellow, or pink shades with single or double forms. Fragrant, too. If the garden site can meet B.x. candida's needs (it's quite specific about soil, moisture and exposure), then there are other things to consider.
For example, B. x candida does need a lot of attention, particularly when their overall form is developing. I have often seen them looking like small trees with all the blooms spread out at the top (see photo below), rather then graduating their structure to allow blooms all over. Attractive when in bloom, they still need extra attention to maintain a desirable tree form by selectively thinning stems. When not addressed, it might mean that the lower portion looks a little bare or ratty. One solution is to add complimentary, evergreen plants in the foreground. Angel's trumpets can have a rough time over the winter, too, so something evergreen will hide this plant when it is not looking its best.
We had one in Palo Alto on a side yard that received only midday sun and protection from winter frost by the adjacent fence. It still was severely damaged by frosts and was unattractive for a few months until it bloomed again. When the sun passed by, the heat would wilt the leaves. That was a long time ago; today's warmer climate helps to endure winters, but they will benefit from late afternoon sun protection. This species is also popular in coastal gardens, including San Francisco's intimate courtyards and gardens. Angel's trumpets do like their water, so be sure to place it in a complimentary moderate hydrozone.
cultivars of interest, as examples:
'Double White': multiple petals
'Frosty Pink': salmon pink flowers
'Variegata': green and white leaves
Botanical Name: Brugmansia x candida
Brugmansia: Honoree, physician and botanist Sebald Justinus Brugmans
X: Crossbred B. aurea and B. versicolor
Common Name: Angel's trumpet
Family Name: Solanaceae
Origin: South America
Positioning: Middle to background, planters
Garden Themes: Sub-tropical/tropical, Victorian, courtyard, coastal (protected)
Uses: Focal point, specimen, small standard, container, accent, barrier, border, hummingbirds
Type: Evergreen (warmer climates) semi-evergreen to deciduous shrub elsewhere
Size: 10' tall and wide
Outstanding Feature(s): Flower, tropical effect
Stems: Light green, tomentose when young becoming woody and light gray.
Leaf: Large and showy
Shape: Oblong, ovate
Color: Dull, light green to yellow-green
Flower: Summer. Showy, pendulous trumpets, very large, white, cream, or peach pending cultivars. Fragrant
Fruit: Capsule, smooth and pointed
cultural requirements, tolerances & problems
Sunset Zones: 12, 13, 16-24; H1, H2
USDA Zones: 8-10
Light: Sun (cooler regions) to part shade (inland) and shade (desert)
WUCOLS SF Bay Area Hydro Zone: Moderate
Texture: Loam high in organic matter
Moisture Retention: Evenly moist
pH: Lightly acidic to neutral
Problems: Frost damage. All parts are moderately toxic.
Branch Strength: Weak
Insects: Caterpillars, white flies, spider mites
citations & attributions
Bayton, R. (2019). The Royal Horticultural Society's the Gardener's Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names. London: Mitchell Beazley.
Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. "Brugmansia x candida." North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Accessed on August 12, 2021, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/brugmansia-x-candida/.
Norris Brenzel, K. (Ed.). (2012). The New Sunset Western Garden Book. New York: Time Home Entertainment, Inc.
Plant Finder. "Brugmansia x candida." Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis. Accessed on August 1, 2021, from https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=287208&isprofile=0&.
Water Use Classification of Landscape Species. "WUCOLS IV Plant List." University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Davis. Accessed on July 27, 2021.