Brugmansia Mania ‘Grand Marnier’

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Elephant Ears, Canna, Banana, and Brugmansia are four of my mania plants.  I would probably go insane if we were unable to get these plants here for container gardening.  A nursery visitor told me one day that Brugmansia doesn’t do anything for her.  I responded, “You either love them or hate them.”  As for moi, I think they are amazing.  Their eye-catching large trumpet flowers and fast growth is a necessity for us CT gardeners whom enjoy tropic temptations!

Blooming 2010

This year Brugmansia x candida ‘Grand Marnier’ is on my plant order list for 2011.  A subtropical shrub or tree, it is hardy to zones 9-11.  This cultivar is popular and vigorous. It will grow up to 4-5 feet tall and wide in one container planting season, and produce large soft apricot-pink blooms, known as angel’s trumpet.  During the evening, the flower’s fragrance is intense and very noticeable.  It may be too powerful for sensitive noises.  Place it at a comfortable smelling distance or nearby if you are a perfume lover.  It is no wonder these large angel’s trumpets blossoms are captivating for they can reach 8 to 12 inches long.  As they dangle down and hang on for periods of time, you can’t help but notice them during the day hours too. 

Pronounced brugh-MAN-zee-uh, serve it up solo in a large container or mixed with other annuals and perennials. Just be sure to consider a full sun location and compatible planting partners with similar needs.  However, with that said, the large upper canopy can cast some shade to the plants below depending on the container’s location.   You won’t be disappointed with the flower blossoms as they appear in abundance, sometimes up to 15-20 on a plant at one time.  The shape of the flower is stunning as it unfurls with pointy, flaring tips to the edges of the trumpet’s opening.  Blooms form on the new growth which is great for our short summer season so you don’t have to wait to see them.

The soil should be rich, well-drained, and watered well.  But don’t over do it- it likes to drain between waterings.  In CT, you can overwinter this plant by tricking it into dormancy.  How-to tips are discussed in Cathy T’s Container Garden Parties.  See my website, www.cathytesta.com, for information. 

In warmer climates, this plant can be sunk into the ground in its container and covered for potection.  I spotted these plants in many locations in Hawai’i.  There they can reach tree size, up to 12′ feet tall.  However, take note every part of the angel’s trumpet plant is toxic.  Should you eat it, hallucinations are bound to scare you – and make you go mad!  Let Brugmansia mania be one for the eyes – and not for the mouth!   Cathy T

Begonia Belief ‘Bonfire Choc Pink’

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A recent client commented how she really enjoyed her Begonias this year in her various container gardens on her front porch.  She doesn’t have much experience with plants and selected one just by chance.  She loved how it didn’t need a great deal of attention and lasted all through the summer to fall.  What I could hear in her comments was that it was an easy plant that offered a lot of showy appeal to a beginning gardener.   She wants to make sure her next candidates this planting season are of similar character – and I am here to help her!

Bonfire in Whiskey Barrel

The Bonfire® series is one of my personal favorites when it comes to Begonias.  I planted one in a whiskey barrel a couple of years back and that plant rocked all season long, and with little attention – as my client indicated about her’s.  There are several new introductions of this series coming from one of my favorite growers this year. 

Begonia ‘Bonfire® Choc Pink’, hardy to zones 8-11, has chocolate plum foliage.  Darker foliage is one of the keys to providing contrast in container gardens so you should not pass them up as you find them in your nursery, or attend one of Cathy T’s Container Garden Parties.  ‘Bonfire® Choc Pink’ has a more mounding habit and blooms blush pink flowers that have a structure of long skinny petals that tend to dangle a bit down.  I like this style of flower’s shape better than the typical Begonia blooms.  We can see why they are referred to as Bonfire.  The petals look like flames!  The pink color of Choc Pink is soft and really shows up against its darker foliage.

‘Bonfire® Choc Pink’ will grow up to 20″ tall and wide, so it is very dramatic in a large container garden.  It can take the full sun to part sun/part shade, thus it is a versatile plant as well.  This very low maintenance plant with impressive performance is already on my plant order list for 2011 spring.  Yet, if you prefer a bit more intensity to flower color, the other new candidate is ‘Bonfire® Choc Red’, with red bloom and also dark-leaved but with a more upright habit.  The serrated foliage has red margins.  Look for both as you shop!  Cathy T