Datura is a genus of 9 species commonly known as Daturas or Devil's Trumpets. They are also sometimes called Moonflowers, Jimsonweed, Devil's Weed, Hell's Bells, Thorn Apple, etc. However, its distribution within the Americas and North Africa is most likely restricted to the United States, Mexico, and southern Canada in North America and Tunisia in Africa, where the highest species diversity occurs.
Datura is closely related to the genus Brugmansia, and indeed, it is easy for many people to confuse the two. Brugmansia can become a massive woody tree, but Datura is smaller and less woody with upright as opposed to drooping flowers.
Daturas grow quickly and may get up to 4 feet tall. The blooms are fragrant and particularly so at night. Most flowers are white, but they may also be yellow, purple, lavender, and red. Stems are soft but erect, and they have a grayish green tinge. Leaves are lobed and lightly furred. The flowers are the standout at several inches in width. The plant is generally an annual but vigorously self-seeds seedlings grow at a furious rate to adult plants in one season. This self-seeding behavior ensures Daturas growing year after year.
The little plants will exceed your expectations with speedy growth and low maintenance.
Growing Conditions and General Care
You can grow Daturas inside or outside in a pot or simply spread seed with a light coat of sand outside in a sunny location. They are usually planted annually from the seed, but with care, plants can be overwintered. Most species are suited to be planted outside or in containers.
Daturas do best in full or close to full sun. The more light, the better in general.
Datura is a truly tropical species that does not take kindly to colder temperatures. Cold drafts are likely to result in leaf drop, and frost will kill them.
In containers, they should have porous, aerated potting soil with adequate drainage.
Regular watering during the growing season to keep the soil moist at all times but not soaking. During the winter, reduce watering somewhat, but never let the soil completely dry out.
Feed weekly with a weak liquid fertilizer that encourages blooming.
As a tropical species, they thrive in the warmer months and don't take kindly to frost and winter months. If left by themselves in winter, every Datura leaf will drop, and the plant most likely dies.
Daturas are ridiculously easy to grow from seed. They need full sun and rich fertile earth that drains well. Sow seeds directly outside into a prepared bed in fall in warmer climates and early spring after all danger of frost has passed in cooler climates.
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