“The flower which is single need not envy the thorns that are numerous.” — R. Togore
If you want a plant that is dramatic in your flowerbeds this year, I recommend Datura. This plant is easy to grow from seed and will spread about 2 feet wide. It almost is as large as a small shrub. The most common Datura have white trumpet-like flowers that stand straight up. Another variety of Datura has double white and purple flowers. These are beautiful but a little harder to grow from seed. There are about nine species of Datura but almost all are considered weeds or they do not do well in our climate. Datura can be grown indoors during the winter. It also can be a large accent plant on the patio or garden during the summer.
The flower buds are shaped like a cigar and unwind around dusk. They smell like honeysuckle and attract sphinx moths, which are their primary pollinators. Honeybees and other pollinators also visit these plants. The seedpods of Datura are round and very thorny. As they dry, they bust open and scatter their seeds.
People often call Datura moonflowers, devil’s trumpets, thorn apples or angel’s trumpets. This is confusing as there is a closely related genus Brugmansia that has pendant type flowers and a woody stem. Brugmansia have fleshy seedpods and a variety of flower colors.
The downside to Datura is it can reseed. However, the seedlings are very easy to pull. The plants are toxic if eaten but the leaves have an odor so animals will not bother them. In addition, you need gloves to remove seedpods. The downside to Brugmansia is about the same although they do not reseed and the seedpods are smooth. They do better in large containers.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Food Fair & Farmers Market happening at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 9 at Sacred Heart School in Reedsburg. Stop by and visit and be sure to bring your questions.