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How to: prune angels trumpet

Photo - Robin Powell

Angels trumpets (brugmansia) are native to the subtropical forests of Brazil and Chile. There they grow beneath other trees in an unruly and tangled mess of branches, illuminated by those sensational flowers. 

We want those fabulous flowers in our gardens, but prefer them to hang from a more elegant shape. Fortunately, elegance requires only judicious pruning and shaping. Angels trumpets can be pruned into neat shrubs, but we like them best trained as ‘trees’. Single trunks supporting an umbrella of branches show off the hanging flowers perfectly. Here’s how to do it.

1. Choose one shoot to become the main leader or trunk and stake it tightly upright. Your chosen leader will fork into a Y-shape when it is between 80cm-1.5m tall.

2. As the leader grows remove any other shoots coming from below the soil, and rub off shoots that emerge on the trunk.

3. Create a balanced framework of branches by cutting above the Y, and above a node where you want the next branching to occur.

4. Once you have your desired shape, enjoy those flowers! Our angels trumpets flower up to 20 times a year. (For maximum flowers feed ground-grown plants with tomato food and potted specimens with a granular fertiliser formulated for flowering plants.)

5. General shaping can be done anytime throughout the growing season. Plants will generally take one month to flower after a tip prune.


In early spring, once there is no risk of frost, cut back the growth to your original framework of Y joints. Angels trumpets flower on new green wood only, and will be back in beautiful bloom a few months after this heavy prune.


Photo - Jacqui Martin/


Text: Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross