Datura: Greenhouse Plants
W – warm, minimum of 13°C (55°F)
The only thing that prevents me from describing these plants as being excellent is their tendency to suffer from attacks by red spider mite and whitefly which seem to take it in turns to spoil one’s enjoyment of growing them. The only cultural advice I can give to ward them off is to thoroughly and vigorously spray the plants with water, especially the undersides of the leaves, as many times a day as is feasible during the hot dry spells when attacks are most likely to occur. Datura sanguinea is a delightful if rather large species which will reach 2 m (6 ft) and is best pruned very hard each year after flowering. From Peru, it produces long orange-red flowers during summer. D. suaveolens, also from Peru, is the true Angels Trumpet with its large white scented flowers. A good small plant is D. metel ‘Golden Queen’ which will flower when small during its first year from seed. Flowers are a glorious fragrant double yellow trumpet very freely produced during summer. All these can be grown easily from seed. Subsequent propagation can be byof half ripe wood in May. Given a temperature of 24°C (75°F) they will root within three weeks. Fortunately Datura respond well to hard pruning, which in older specimens can go right back into the old wood. It is necessary to prune all of them in the autumn. Not only does this get rid of pest eggs but keeps the plants compact. A word of warning is that these plants are known for having poisonous, narcotic and medicinal properties and are to be treated with respect. The first experience I had with Datura was when a colleague inadvertently wiped sap into one of her eyes. It had the effect of dilating the pupil which looked very odd when the other was contracted against the light. It was only after puzzling a few doctors that we remembered the Datura sanguinea she had been pruning. The effect wore off after a day.