- The trumpet has two basic pieces:
- The Valves
- Oiling the Valves
- The Slides
- Cleaning the Trumpet
- Cleaning and Polishing the Outside
- Helpful Hints and Reminders
- Disassemble it Properly
- Oiling the Valves
- Greasing the Slides
- How to Give Your Trumpet a “Bath”
- Cleaning & Polishing the Outside
- Helpful Advice & Reminders
- This plant, also known as Angel’s Trumpet, has large heavenly scented flowers which hang down en masse
- Here’s what you need to know if you want to grow Brugmansias in the garden:
- Potted Brugmansia Plants: Growing Brugmansias In Containers
- Brugmansia Information
- Growing Brugmansia in Containers
- Overwintering Brugmanias in Containers
The trumpet has two basic pieces:
- The mouthpiece;
- The instrument.
The instrument is composed of the valves, the slides, and the body of the horn.
- The basic assembly of the trumpet is quite easy and consists simply of placing the mouthpiece into the mouthpiece receiver on the instrument. Take care not to twist the mouthpiece as you insert it into the receiver; you also don’t want to push it in too hard, tap or bang on it or the mouthpiece might get stuck.
- There are three valves, or pistons, on a trumpet; the first, second and third. The first valve is closest to the player holding the horn and the third valve is closest to the bell. The second valve is in-between the first and third.
- At the top of each valve is the finger button, which is screwed onto the valve stem. Next is the top valve cap, which keeps the valve in place in its correct part of the valve casing on the body. Underneath the top valve cap is the spring barrel which holds the spring that allows the valve to spring back up when it has been pushed down. Underneath the bottom of the spring and sticking out of two slots in the side of the spring barrel is the valve guide, which is usually made out of white plastic. This important part of the valve keeps the valve in the correct position when it’s in the valve casing. The spring barrel is attached to the actual valve itself. Each valve has three holes or passageways going through it, with one port at each end of each hole. With the help of the valve guides these holes line up with the different tubes attached to the valve casing on the body so that the air or sound can pass through the trumpet correctly. At the bottom of each section of the valve casing is a bottom valve cap that protects the bottom of the valve and prevents oil from dripping out.
- While it looks like it would be fun to take all the valves apart and put them back together, it’s best not to do so. If you have taken a valve out of the trumpet, be careful not to drop or bang it because it can be bent quite easily. Also, if you set one down, be careful to put it in a place where it cannot roll or be accidentally bumped. Most valves have a number on the spring barrel so you can tell whether they’re number one, two or three.
Oiling the Valves
- It is best to choose a time to oil the valves when there is not a lot of activity around you. For example, it might be better to oil them at home before band instead of right before band when there are a lot of other students running around who could bump into you. If you happen to drop a valve it will probably get bent and not work, so you need to be careful when you do this.
- You only need to oil one valve at a time. First remove the cap from your bottle of valve oil and place it nearby where you can reach it. Holding the trumpet in your left hand with your fingers wrapped around the valve casing, unscrew the top valve cap counter-clockwise and pull the valve out far enough so that you can see the actual valve itself. Holding the trumpet so that the valve stays pulled out but won’t fall out, place a couple drops of oil on the valve, then push the valve back into the valve casing. Without pressing down the finger button, twirl the valve clockwise or counter-clockwise until you feel the valve stop and the valve guide click into its slot inside the valve casing. Carefully thread the top valve cap clockwise, push the valve up and down a few times to distribute the oil, and you’re all done and ready to do the next one.
- The valves don’t need to be oiled every time you play, but you should oil them two or three times a week or whenever they feel sluggish.
- There are four slides on a trumpet. Each valve has a corresponding slide, so there is a first slide, a second slide and a third slide. The first slide is connected to the first valve casing and points toward the player. The second slide is connected to the second valve casing on the right-hand side of the horn as the player holds it. The third slide is connected to the third valve casing and points in the same direction as the bell. The fourth or final slide is the tuning slide. It is larger than the other three and is connected to the mouthpipe and the third valve casing. The mouthpipe, or leadpipe as it is sometimes called, is the long, straight tube the runs along the upper right side of the trumpet as the player holds it. The part of the mouthpipe closest to the player ends in the mouthpiece receiver where the mouthpiece goes. The other end of the mouthpipe ends in the tube that accepts the upper part of the tuning slide. Near this end of the mouthpipe, on top, is the finger hook for the right little finger.
- On the tuning slide and usually on the third slide as well there is a water key near the bottom of the curved part, commonly called a spit valve. Playing the trumpet stimulates the salivary glands and some saliva inevitably builds up inside the instrument and starts to make a gurgling sound. When this happens we need to release the saliva by opening the water keys and blowing on the mouthpiece. We don’t need to buzz like we do when we play the trumpet; we just need to blow. If there is an accumulation of water in the third slide, we need to hold the third valve down when we blow and have the third slide water key open, otherwise the air doesn’t go through the third slide.
- There’s often some valve oil which can stain a rug or carpet mixed in with the saliva so it’s important to keep in mind whose floor we’re emptying our water keys on. On the linoleum in the band room is probably okay, but you might want to think twice before emptying the water keys on your mom’s new carpet. Some players will have an old towel or tee shirt to place on the floor just for this purpose.
Cleaning the Trumpet
- Like it or not, sooner or later there will be some debris that builds up inside your trumpet that needs to be cleaned out. Unlike the flute, clarinet or saxophone, you can’t pull a swab through the trumpet once you’re through playing and clean everything all out. With regular playing you should give your trumpet a bath about once a month. Once you get used to doing it the whole process will only take about fifteen to twenty minutes.
- In order to clean the trumpet thoroughly you have to give it a bath. This can be done in the bath tub, the kitchen sink or another wash basin. It’s important to have a flat surface nearby where you can lay a towel out flat. You’ll use this towel to set the different parts of the trumpet on when you take it apart to clean it.
- Here’s what you’ll need to have to clean the trumpet:
Flexible bore brush (snake)
Valve casing swab rod
Hand towels (2)
Cotton cloth (no synthetic) tight weave, like an old dish towel
Mild soap like Ivory&#reg; dish soap
- The first step is to disassemble the horn. Set the mouthpiece to one side on the towel you’ve laid out flat. Unscrew the top valves caps one at a time, take the valves out and place them in order 1-2-3 on the towel. Then unscrew the bottom valve caps and place them in order underneath the valves. Finally, remove the first, second, third and tuning slides and place them in order to the side of the valves.
- Next take a sheet of paper towel and carefully wipe any oil off the valves. Then pick up each slide and wipe any slide grease off the tubes. If the body of the trumpet has any inner slide tubes wipe any grease of these also.
- Now take a corner of the cotton towel and feed it through the eye of the valve casing swab rod and pull a small amount of cloth through. Holding the rod in your right hand with the end pointing up, hold the cloth out to the left like a flag. Twirl the rod one half turn counter-clockwise so the cloth starts to wrap around the rod. Then pull the cloth up and over the top of the rod and pull it down the other side. This should leave the end of the rod covered in cloth and the cloth should have a slight bulge to it at the tip of the rod. Pull the fabric down the side of the rod and with the round bottom of the rod planted firmly in the palm of your right hand, grasp the rod with your thumb and fingers so that the cloth is taut. Pick up the trumpet with your left hand by the valve casing and use the rod to swab out the inside of each of the valve casings. The cloth on the rod should fit snugly into the valve casing; snug enough so you have to push a little to fit it in, but not so tight you have to fight it or so loose it doesn’t grab the inside of the casing. If the swab is too loose, lift the cloth back over the top and twirl the rod around a little more than half a turn and that will make the head of the swab bigger. If it’s too tight then lift the cloth up and un-twirl it just a bit and that should make it fit easier.
- After all the old lubricant has been removed, we can wash the trumpet. Fill the sink or tub up with lukewarm water (not hot), deep enough so that the body of the trumpet can be submerged under water. Mix in some soap, just like you were going to do the dishes. First, take the mouthpiece brush and clean out the mouthpiece in the water, running the brush up the bottom, or shank end, of the mouthpiece. Rinse and set aside to dry.
- Next, immerse the body of the trumpet in the water and run the flexible bore brush through all the slide tubing and the mouthpipe. You can push the brush down the bell but be looking down the first valve casing and stop when the brush gets that far.
- Now that the body has been cleaned it needs to be rinsed. Run lukewarm water all the way through all the tuning until the water comes out clear and then find a place where you can set the trumpet down on its bell so it can drain but it’s in no danger of falling over.
- Clean the slides next in the soapy water. Run the brush all the way through the tuning slide but only down to the end and back of both sides of the three valve slides. Rinse all four and stand them upside down in a place they can safely drain.
- Finally, take each valve one at a time and just hold the actual valve, the gray part with the three holes and six ports under the water and very carefully use the mouthpiece brush to clean out any debris in the ports. Rinse the valves off and stand them straight up in a safe place where they can’t fall over. If the bottom valve caps are dirty this is the time to wash them out as well.
- Take your second towel and wipe all the parts dry and then lay them out in the same order as when you took the trumpet apart. Then pick the body of the trumpet up and swab out the valve casing once more, using a clean part of the cotton cloth.
- Now it’s time to reassemble the horn, and we’ll start with the slides. Rub a thin coat of slide grease on the inner slide tubes of the first slide and then push the slide onto the body of the horn, then do the same with the second, third and tuning slides. Wipe off the little bit of excess grease that you’ll find after you’ve pushed each slide in.
- Next, pick up the first valve and place it part way into the first valve casing and place a few drops of valve oil on the valve itself and then push it the rest of the way in and tighten the top valve cap. Then do the dame for the second and third valves. At this point pick up the trumpet and work all the valves up and down for a short time and see how they feel. If they feel good then it’s fine; if they feel a little slow then you’ll have to take them out again and swab the valve casings out once more.
- Once you’re happy with the way the valves feel, you can put the bottom valve caps back on. It’s a good idea to put a small amount of slide grease on the threads of the bottom valve caps. Without the grease the caps could be hard to get off the next time you take the trumpet apart.
Cleaning and Polishing the Outside
- Just use a clean dry cloth to keep the outside of the instrument clean. There are lacquer polish cloths available that are okay to use which are treated with a wax that cleans and shines and won’t hurt the finish of the trumpet. If you are careful, you can also spray a polish such as Pledge&#reg; lightly on a cloth and then use the cloth to polish and remove any stubborn stains on the body of the horn.
- If the instrument is silver-plated instead of brass-lacquered, you can use a silver polish cloth to keep the outside shiny. Before you polish a silver horn, especially if you haven’t given it a bath recently, take the time to wipe the outside off with a cloth lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol. This removes the oils of the perspiration from your hands and any dirt that might be on the surface and makes the actual polishing go a lot quicker.
Helpful Hints and Reminders
- Pliers and trumpets don’t go together – ever! If your mouthpiece happens to get stuck for any reason, DO NOT use pliers to try to get it loose, and just as important, DO NOT let your dad try it either. Depending on how stuck it is, using the pliers can scratch and damage the mouthpiece at the very least. In worse cases the mouthpiece won’t free up but the mouthpipe will start to break away off the body of the trumpet. In the worst cases the person trying to “unstuck” the mouthpiece can pull the entire mouthpipe off the body of the trumpet, and the mouthpiece is still stuck!
- If and when the mouthpiece gets stuck, first ask your band director for help. Most band directors have a tool called a mouthpiece puller that can remove a stuck mouthpiece quickly and easily without damaging the mouthpiece or the trumpet. If the band director cannot help you, then take your trumpet to your local band instrument store and ask for their help.
- When you’re holding or playing the trumpet, don’t put your right little finger, the “pinky” finger, in the finger hook on the mouthpipe. Instead, place your little finger on top of the hook. In order to do this you have to raise your entire hand just a little bit, and what it does is gives your first, second and third fingers a better angle to push the valves down.
- When your little finger is in the hook your other fingers are fairly flat when they touch the valves. It’s hard to push the valves straight down in this position; instead they get pushed partly sideways at the same time they are being pressed down. When the little finger rests on top of the finger hook then the other fingers have some arch to them and can push the valves down straight every time. This makes the valves work better and faster.
- So why is the finger hook there, you ask? You need to use the finger hook at times when you have to hold the trumpet with just your right hand. This could be when you need to keep playing while you turn a page of music, or it could be when you’re playing and you need to put a mute in the trumpet or take one out. With your little finger in the hook you can still work the valves while you hold the trumpet with just your right hand.
- When you are placing the horn back in the case do not store your band method book on top of the instrument. Most trumpets and trumpet cases are designed these days so that padded inside of the lid comes right down on top of the trumpet, leaving no room for a book. Forcing a book to fit by pushing down on the lid to close it can damage the instrument.
- Keep your trumpet safe. It should only be “on your face or in the case!” Do not leave it on your chair, the sofa, the table, the floor, or the piano. If a trumpet is dropped it can cause extensive damage and expensive repair.
- Always carry your case with the lid or top side of the case toward your body. This way, if the case were to unexpectedly open for any reason, you would have the chance to pull the case against your body to prevent the instrument from falling out. If the lid is facing away from you and the case opens there is no way for you to keep the instrument from falling out.
- Whether the information is on a card inside the case, a label or an ID tag, make sure your instrument has identification on it showing that it belongs to you. Almost all band instruments have their own unique serial number on the body of the instrument so you shouldn’t mark the instrument itself, but do have proof of ownership somewhere inside or on the case.
Learning to play the trumpet is a fun and exciting adventure. Keeping it properly maintained is critical to keeping it in prime playing condition. Whether you’re new to the trumpet or have neglected it for far too long, trumpet maintenance is actually quite easy. Since the instrument is composed of valves, slides, and the body, these are the three different areas of the trumpet you need to pay attention to. From oiling the valves and greasing the slides to cleaning the mouthpiece and storing the instrument properly, here are some tips for keeping your trumpet in tip-top shape.
Disassemble it Properly
First and foremost, make sure you can assemble and disassemble your instrument on your own. Since disassembly is crucial to trumpet maintenance, you should be able to take it apart and put it back together again with ease. Fortunately, disassembly isn’t difficult. Start by removing the valves and setting them aside in a safe place. Next, remove all the slides with caution. If they’re stuck, don’t force them out or use pliers or other household tools. If you use the wrong tools you could accidentally tear the tubing apart in places you didn’t intend to. If you can’t pull the slide out with minimal effort, finish cleaning the rest of your trumpet and take it to a repair technician to have the slides pulled out.
Oiling the Valves
When oiling the valves, it’s best to do so in the comfort of your own home. If you oil your valves in a busy room, it’s more likely that someone will bump into you, causing you to drop, dent, or otherwise damage the valves. Oil the valves one at a time, removing the cap of the valve oil bottle beforehand so both your hands will be free to focus on the trumpet. With the trumpet in your left hand, unscrew the valve cap counterclockwise and pull the valve out so you can see it. Hold the trumpet so the valve is pulled out but won’t fall out. Place a couple drops of oil on the valve before you push it back into its casing. Without applying too much pressure, twirl the valve until you feel the valve stop and click back into place. As far as frequency goes, don’t oil the valves every time you play. Instead, oil them a few times a week or whenever they feel especially sluggish.
Famous Al Cass Fast is a combination valve, slide, and musical instrument key lubricant will not gum or separate under any weather conditions. 2-oz. bottle.
Greasing the Slides
If you don’t grease the slides of your trumpet, the mineral deposits found in saliva will weld the tubes together. This can lead to an expensive repair. Also referred to as “stuck slides”, if you allow your trumpet to dry out all you’ll be left with are the deposits. You won’t be able to remove these deposits with soap, water, or a cleaning kit. Unfortunately, the only way to remove deposits is via an acid bath at a professional repair shop. To avoid this hassle (and expense), all you need to do is grease the slides every month or so. If you forget to grease your slides during trumpet maintenance and the slides get stuck, never try to “fix” them with a screwdriver or other household tools. A repair technician will be able to unstick the slides without damaging your trumpet. To grease the slides, use a specialized slide grease. Slide grease is formulated with brass instruments in mind, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally damaging your trumpet in the process.
Schilke has developed their tuning slide grease to meet the requirements for easy to use slides. This keeps the tuning slides from shifting while the horn is being played. This is a very popular product.
How to Give Your Trumpet a “Bath”
Every six months or so, you should completely disassemble the trumpet for a deep cleaning. Set the finger buttons, valve top caps, and any other small accessories aside. Once your trumpet is disassembled, soak all the parts in warm, soapy water for a few minutes, making sure not to leave the trumpet in the water too long or the lacquer can peel off. From there, run a snake brush through all the tubes and scrub the valve casings with a valve casing brush. When finished, rinse all parts and dry with a lint-free towel. If you haven’t done so recently, grease the slides and add a few drops of valve oil to the valves once you reassemble the instrument.
Cleaning & Polishing the Outside
If you’re thinking about polishing the outside of your trumpet, do so sparingly. Unless your trumpet is in especially poor condition, using a clean dry cloth to keep the outside of the instrument clean should suffice. Although there are lacquer polish cloths available on the market that are OK to use from time to time, if you overuse them or aren’t careful, the wax on these cloths can lead to unsightly build-up. If you’re careful, you can also spray a small amount of Pledge on a cloth and use that to remove any stubborn stains. If your trumpet is silver-plated, you can use silver polish to keep the outside shiny. Before polishing, wipe the outside of the trumpet down with cloth that’s lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol. This process will remove any oil or dirt that has accumulated on the outside of the instrument.
The Ultra-Pure Deluxe Trumpet Care Kit contains everything a player needs to keep their instrument in top playing condition.
Helpful Advice & Reminders
- Pliers and trumpets don’t go together- ever. If your mouthpiece does get stuck, don’t use pliers or household tools to pry it loose. Your band director may have access to a special tool called a mouthpiece puller. Check with them before heading to your local repair shop.
- When storing your trumpet in its case, don’t place books, accessories, or any other materials on top of it. Nowadays, most cases are designed with compartments for accessories. Forcing a book to fit by pushing down on the lid of the case can lead to a damaged instrument.
- Whether you plan on travelling with your trumpet or not, make sure you place an identification card with your name, phone number, and email on the inside or outside of the case. This way, you have proof of ownership if your trumpet is ever lost and an easy way for someone to contact you in case they come across your trumpet.
Think your trumpet may need a repair? Check out Common Repairs for Trumpets.
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To keep your instrument in good condition, you need to take care of it correctly. We have put together this brief guide of hints and tips to help you.
You can download the PDF version of this guide here.
- Ensure no food, sweets or sugary drinks are consumed just before or during play as this can clog up the instrument
- Check that the valves still have a sufficient amount of oil on them
- Wipe the instrument down after play with a lacquer cloth. Sweat can cause issues to lacquer if this is not cleaned sufficiently
- Check the instrument over. If something looks out of place, ask the teacher to have a look at it or contact our Repairs Technician for advice
Every Two Weeks
- Take the valve out of it’s casing
- Wash this down with warm soapy water. Make sure any residue is removed
- Give the internal casing a wipe down with a damp cloth and a cleaning brush
- Make sure both the valve and the casing are dry
- Put a few drops of valve oil on the bottom section of the valve, spinning this to make sure the whole surface has a thin layer of oil
- Replace the valve and repeat with the other two (we suggest to do one valve at a time to avoid any confusion)
- If, when you blow the instrument, there is no sound coming out, you may need to twist the valves into another position
- Give the mouthpiece a wash with warm soapy water using a cleaning brush
Every Few Months
- The instrument will need bathing to clean the inside. Fill your bath with warm water and washing liquid (not a great deal needed) so the instrument is partially submerged
- Take the valves, mouthpiece, valve caps and tuning slides off the instrument and leave them to soak in the bath for about 20 minutes
- Take a cleaning brush and clean the valve casing, valves and mouthpiece thoroughly.
- Rinse the instrument thoroughly, making sure that there are no suds left
- Dry as much as you can. Leave the inside to dry naturally
- Once dry, oil up the valves (as above), grease the slides and put the instrument back together
- Please note, some manufacturers engrave the valve number onto the valve. This corresponds with the diagram above
For optimum results, we recommend buying the below items for your instrument. This will help to keep the instrument in the best possible condition.
Contains cleaning agents to make your instrument look shiny and new each time you use it. Wipe your instrument down before and after you use it.
Ideal for cleaning the inside of the valve casings. Use with soapy water for best results.
This protects your instrument against wear, and will make your instrument feel like new on each use.
Tuning Slide Grease
This will help to keep the tuning slides moving freely for longer. Handy to keep in your trumpet or cornet case at all times.
We offer a complete Trumpet / Cornet Care Kit with everything you need to keep your instrument in the best possible condition.
This plant, also known as Angel’s Trumpet, has large heavenly scented flowers which hang down en masse
Angel’s Trumpets are impressive. These large shrubs, which easily turn into small trees, stand head and shoulders above other plants in the garden. Their height, breadth and masses of fragrant, trumpet shaped flowers never fail to impress – both the eyes and the nose. Here’s what I’ve learned from experience by maintaining Brugmansias along with care tips.
This pic is a bit bright but you can see what I mean about the masses of flowers & presence in the garden a Brugmansia has. This is “Charles Grimaldi” by the way.
They are quite the common landscape plant here in Santa Barbara. There are four cultivars/varieties commonly seen here but Florida with its sub tropical/tropical climate has many beauties. Plain and simple, they’re grown for their flowers. Brugmansias have an unusual habit in that they only flower above where the stems fork which you’ll see in the picture below. So, if you have a baby plant, don’t expect it to flower until you see that “Y”. Be sure to remove all the leaves below that first fork because that will save your young plant some energy.
Here’s are a couple of close ups so you can see the “Y” or fork I’m talking about.
If you have a new plant don’t be too impatient, give it some time to bloom. I planted a Brugmansia “Double White” in my client’s garden and the flower was single for the first year of its bloom. It then turned double the following year. Here in Santa Barbara they have a long bloom time: late Winter through late Fall with the heaviest displays coming during the warmer months. Definitely worth the mess these plants make!
Looking into the lovely flowers of Brugmansia x candida “Double White”.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to grow Brugmansias in the garden:
Hardiness: Most grow in zones 8-10b but there are some varieties which are hardy in zones 7b-10b. They are semi-evergreen the colder it gets so expect some leaf drop. If you get a couple nights of frost, your Brugmansia should come back even if it goes down.
Light: Angel’s Trumpets prefer cooler sun or partial shade – this is why they love coastal Southern California (except for this year – they’re definitely not diggin’ our drought). They love it bright but need to be protected from hot afternoon sun with dappled shade. In their native environments, they grow beneath the understory of taller plants.
Water: Brugmansias like regular & deep watering to keep them looking there best. They have a rangy growth habit & will get scraggly if kept too dry. This is evidenced by the pictures I’ve saved for the end to show you how they look in a drought. Spoiler: they’re not lovely, that’s why they’re at the end!
Soil: Nothing too particular, just regular garden soil with good drainage. Top dressing with a good amount of rich compost ( I use a local compost. Give Dr. Earth’s a try if you can’t find any where you live. Both enrich the soil naturally so the roots are healthy & the plants grow stronger) every Spring will make your Brugmansia very happy.
Fertilizer: I never applied any to Angel’s Trumpets when I was a professional gardener, just lots of compost. I was reading something very interesting on a grower’s website that I wanted to share with you: they recommend feeding them with a fertilizer formulated for tomatoes which makes perfect sense.
Brugmansias are in the Solanacae family right alongside tomatoes. They aren’t crazy about phosphorous (N-P-K on the box or bag with the middle letter being phosphorous) so another suitable fertilizer for them would have numbers like 30-10-20. Fertilize in early Spring & then a couple of times during the growing season.
Pests: I’ve seen them with spider mite & whiteflies. They’re also susceptible to mealybugs, beetle & broad mites.
Pruning: Brugmansias are vigorous growers & will get rangy in no time. They flower on new wood so pruning helps with that bloom that we want. I pruned so they’d look better in the garden & wouldn’t get too tall. I pruned the established ones down about a foot or 2 in early Spring & then did a couple of lighter prunes throughout the season. If you have one that’s really leggy then go ahead & give it a really good pruning but stay above the forks.
“Charles Grimaldi” grows to at least 12′ tall but here it’s kept under 6′ tall with regular pruning.
Size: Most get 12-16′ by 12′. They are a few which cap out at 8′ (which are billed as dwarf brugmansias) & even a newer called “Angels’ Summer Dream“ which stays under 3′ but the flowers are 6″ long. So sweet – I want that one!
Flowers: Two words: Huge & fragrant! Brugmansias flower abundantly if all their needs are met. No, the fragrance is not there merely for the pleasure of we humans. It’s particularly strong & heady at night to attract pollinators to the flowers.
Some varieties having larger flowers than others. There are some with double & triple flowers – these are extra showy. They can be white, yellow, coral, pink, orange & red. Florida growers offer many more varieties than we have here in California because their climate is much more suited to their likes.
As I mentioned, most of the flowers come on new wood. A word of warning: they do drop a lot of flowers & leaves so if you’re a neat freak, this may not be the plant for you.
Brugmansias are especially beautiful to look up into.
Containers: The dwarf varieties are suitable for containers but just make sure they’re large enough. You will need to water them more in pots especially the bigger they get.
As Houseplants: I’ve never tried growing one indoors because I think there are so many more plants which are better suited to our home environments. However, you can bring it inside in the cold months just be sure give it as much light as possible. Or, you can force it into dormancy & have it wake up when put back out into the great outdoors.
This is “Betty Marshall”, a single white variety.
Here’s the Red Flag: All parts of this plant are poisonous. However, there are many of them growing in Santa Barbara and we’re all still alive. Before you gasp, numerous plants are poisonous – poinsettias, mistletoe, oleanders, azaleas & rhododendrons just to name a few. I’ve touched Brugmansias quite a few times over the years with no reaction whatsoever but you might be more sensitive. Keep them out of your eyes and use common sense … don’t eat them. If your pets like to munch on plants, then Brugmansias aren’t a good choice for you.
This is a Datura which grows as a ground cover. Notice the flowers are the same, just smaller and they grow upward. Brugmansias once had the genus Datura too.
There’s a video after these last oh so lovely pictures so be sure to check it out. Our summer evenings are warm and I can always tell if there’s a Brugmansia nearby – their scent gives them away. I love to hold those flowers to my nose and take a big inhale!
These photos won’t win any awards but you can see how Brugmansias look in a drought.
Poor plant – dead branches with ugly, stunted foliage & few flowers.
Big mistake – each of these 6 plants gets 12′ x 12′ Do you think they’ll be sorry?!
Potted Brugmansia Plants: Growing Brugmansias In Containers
There are few trees that can stop a person in their tracks like a Brugmansia can. In their native climates, brugmansias can grow to be up to 20 feet tall. Not at all an impressive height for a tree, but what makes them so impressive is that the entire tree can be covered in foot long trumpet-shaped flowers.
Brugmansias are commonly called Angel Trumpets. Brugmansias are frequently confused with or thought to be the same as daturas, which are also commonly called Angel Trumpets. This is an incorrect assumption though. Brugmansia and daturas are not directly related to one another (they are listed in two separate genus). The brugmansia is a woody tree, while the datura is an herbaceous shrub. The two different angel trumpets can be distinguished by the direction of the flowers. In brugmansias, the flower hangs down. In daturas, the flower stands upright.
Many people look at brugmansias and assume that they can only be grown in tropical climates. While it is true that brugmansias are tropical trees, they are actually very easy for someone in a colder climate to grow and enjoy. Brugmansias can be easily grown in containers.
Growing Brugmansia in Containers
Brugmansias do quite well grown in containers and can be easily grown by a northern gardener in a container. Plant your brugmansia in a rather large container, at least two feet in diameter. Your container brugmansia can go outside when the nighttime temperatures stay above 50 F. (10 C.). and can remain outside until the fall when the nighttime temperatures start to fall below 50 F (10 C.).
Be sure to keep your container brugmansia thoroughly watered while you keep it outside. They do need a lot of water and your container brugmansia may need to be watered up to twice a day.
Most brugmansias will not grow to their full height if they are grown in a container. At the most, the typical container grown brugmansia will reach a height of about 12 feet. Of course, if this is too high, a container grown brugmansia tree can be easily trained into a smaller tree or even a shrub size. Pruning your container brugmansia to a desired height or shape will not affect the size or frequency of the flowers.
Overwintering Brugmanias in Containers
Once the weather turns colder and you need to bring your brugmansia in from the cold, you have two options for over wintering your container brugmansia.
The first is to simply treat your container brugmansia as a houseplant. Put it in a sunny location and water as the soil dries out. You probably will not see any flowers while your container brugmansia lives in the house, but it has nice foliage.
Your other option is to force the container brugmansia into dormancy. To do this, put your brugmansia in a cool (but not cold), dark place, such as a garage, a basement or a closet. If you would like, you may trim your container brugmansia back by about a third before you store it. This will not hurt the plant and may make storage a little easier for you.
One the plant is stored, water it sparingly, only about once per month. Be warned, your container brugmansia is going to start to look pretty pathetic. It will lose its leaves and some of the outer branches may die. Do not panic. As long as the trunk of the brugmansia tree is still green, your container brugmansia is alive and well. The tree is only sleeping.
A month or so before it is warm enough to take your container brugmansia back outside, start to water your brugmansia more frequently, about once a week. If you have room in your house, bring the container brugmansia out of its storage space or set up a fluorescent light bulb to shine on the brugmansia. In about a week you will start to see some leaves and branches start to grow. You will find that your container brugmansia will come out of dormancy very quickly.
Once you put your container brugmansia back outside, its growth will be very rapid and you will have a lush, breathtaking, flower filled brugmansia tree again in just a matter of weeks.
By Cindy Watter, U.C. Master Gardener of Napa County
The first brugmansia I ever saw was growing in an enormous pot someone had placed against the wall of an otherwise insalubrious alley in Eureka, California. The creamy, dangling flowers looked like art nouveau lampshades, and the blooms had a scent that was a combination of vanilla and rosewater. Brugmansia’s common name is “Angel’s Trumpet,” and it lives up to its name by making everyone around it take notice. In a word, it is spectacular.
This tree originally came from the area of South America near the Andes. It is no longer found in the wild, but is easily cultivated. It is a tropical plant, but can be grown in some areas with very cold winters. In this case, it is best to grow them in a container that can be pulled indoors during a freeze. Here in California, you will need to cover a brugmansia with a cardboard box, or a cloth over a frame on a freezing night. I do it every year, just for a few nights.
Brugmansia is a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, and is closely related to datura (common name “Devil’s Trumpet”) and jimson weed (datura stramonium). Brugmansia is poisonous, like many of the nightshades. (However, the benign potato, eggplant, and tomato are non-toxic members of that family.) All parts of the plant are dangerous to ingest–the leaves, the seeds, the root, the lovely flowers. Extracts from this plant can cause hallucination, coma, and/or death. If you have a thrill-seeker in the family or simply an omnivorous toddler or pet, maybe this plant isn’t for you. But if you find it beautiful, as I do, don’t be afraid. Use common sense–do not eat brugmansia!–and wear gloves when you work with it, or at least wash your hands afterward. Avoid getting plant juices in your eyes. These are excellent rules to follow with any plant, by the way.
Brugmansias like plenty of light–filtered, if the sun is very strong–as well as water, and a lot of fertilizer. Feeding it every two weeks is not too often. To spur initial growth, use a balanced fertilizer, with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. After it produces buds, use any fertilizer made for flowers. Don’t let the soil dry out. I repotted mine into very attractive, enormous terra-cotta pots. They looked elegant, but soil dries out faster in unglazed terra cotta. Having them in pots made them more portable as I searched for the best light/shade conditions, however. I look forward to putting them in the ground soon, where they will need less water.
The best soil for brugmansia is one that has been amended with plenty of compost. Make sure the hole is twice as big as the root ball. Shake some of the dirt off the roots, put the plant in the hole, and then fill the hole with a combination of soil and compost (which allows the roots to spread and seek/retain moisture). Put some mulch around the stem, but not against it. Give it a good slosh of water, and sit back and enjoy your beautiful plant, which will be very attractive to bees and butterflies.
I have seen several brugmansias around Napa, usually in the golden yellow “Charles Grimaldi” variety, which can grow over ten feet tall and features generous repeat blooms. A friend of mine who lives in Oakland has one that is twelve feet tall and produces lush ruffled flowers at Thanksgiving. I asked her what she does to care for them, and she replied, airily, “Nothing, except for pruning.” (Her back yard must have a seam of very rich soil and an underground creek, then.) That brugmansia also benefits from sun all day long. Failing that, brugmansias planted against a heat-retaining wall can be successful.
In our climate, we don’t have to prune brugmansias until the spring. Leaving the old growth on is good for frost protection. When you do prune them, remove the lateral branches and other old growth. Throughout the growing season, prune for shape and to encourage new growth, which produces the flowers. Wash your shears in soap and hot water before and after each use. (This is another good rule to follow when pruning any plant.) When you are pruning, you can take a 6-inch cutting of old wood and put it in a damp mixture of sand, perlite, and vermiculite. Plant it with the root side down. Keep it moist and out of the direct sun and in a few weeks you will see new growth. You have successfully propagated a brugmansia. You can also take the same cutting, pull off any lower leaves, and place it in a glass of water. Change the water daily and keep it out of direct sun. In a few weeks, roots should form.
Once established, a brugmansia needs relatively little care, and will repay you with a stunning display of flowers and scent, in addition to luring bees and butterflies. It is a visual and olfactory delight. I had been having a hard week, and a Master Gardener who works in a nursery dropped over a few days ago with a watermelon pink “Little Miss Lili” brugmansia. Instant euphoria! Suddenly, I felt just fine.
Workshop: U. C. Master Gardeners of Napa County will hold a workshop on “Toxic and Carnivorous Plants” on Saturday, October 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at the University of California Cooperative Extension, 1710 Soscol Avenue, Napa. Foxglove. Lily-of-the-valley. Wisteria. These common plants and many others are toxiix. Who knew? Sundew. Venus flytrap. Pitcher plant. Carnivorous, or so we’ve heard. Join the UC Master Gardeners and explore the fascinating properties that plants have to protect themselves and survive in inhospitable places.Online registration (credit card only);Mail-in/Walk-in registration (check only or drop off cash payment).
Master Gardeners are volunteers who help the University of California reach the gardening public with home gardening information. U. C. Master Gardeners of Napa County ( http://ucanr.edu/ucmgnapa/) are available to answer gardening questions in person or by phone, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to Noon, at the U. C. Cooperative Extension office, 1710 Soscol Avenue, Suite 4, Napa, 707-253-4143, or from outside City of Napa toll-free at 877-279-3065. Or e-mail your garden questions by following the guidelines on our web site. Click on Napa, then on Have Garden Questions? Find us on Facebook under UC Master Gardeners of Napa County.