Gardening: ‘Add a touch of the tropics with this biennial’

Phyl Boyce


Phyl Boyce

Echium pininana (Tree Echium) is a stunning plant for any sheltered border providing a tropical touch to any garden in late spring and early summer.

Echium pininana (Tree Echium) is a stunning plant for any sheltered border providing a tropical touch to any garden in late spring and early summer.

The plant is a native of the Canary Islands where its flower heads can be seen growing above the laurel forests. It is a biennial plant that grows about 4 feet tall with silvery green hairy leaves in the first year. In the second year the plant suddenly spurts into growth to produce a single flower spike up to 16 feet tall that is covered w

ith blue funnel shaped flowers. After flowering the plant dies and scatters its seeds. In mild parts of the country, like the south coast of Ireland, these seeds will germinate to produce new plants. In colder regiond the seeds should be collected and sown in the greenhouse in spring. Echiumd make impressive and very beautiful focal points for the large herbaceous border.

Brugmansia (Angles trumpets, tree datura)

Brugmansia is an evergreen shrub from South America. They are grown for their large , usually scented, trumpet shaped flowers. In frost prone areas grow in a greenhouse and place outside for the summer. Brugmansias may not flower the first year after planting. After that, flowers open in waves followed by resting periods. Some plants only produce one flush of flowers, probably due to the amount of sunlight while other plants produce more than one flush of flowers. The flowers are beautiful, come in a variety of colours like white, yellow, pink and red. Some flowers have an amazing smell, especially at night.

We grow our brugmansias in the greenhouse, moving them out at the end of May to a protected area, gradually increasing their exposure to sun and wind over a few days… They grow well in full sun or partial shade. In full sun and on hot days they may need to be watered daily, watch out for the leaves drooping, once watered they will pick up within a few hours. During the winter they gradually lose their leaves in the green house so water sparingly during this period. In spring, with increase in temperatures, increase watering will bring plants back to life. Prune to encourage bushy growth or limit size of plant.

Brugmansia sanguinea is a small 12 foot high tree from Peru. It produces leaves up to 7 inches long. The flowers are 8-10 inches long, drooping trumpets, brilliant orange red at the mouth with yellow veins and fading to yellow at the base. The flower has no scent, it flowers from late spring to autumn.

Brugmansia sauveolens is a native of Brazil. It produces yellow or pink flowers which are scented from early summer to autumn. Brugmansias are susceptible to white fly and red spider mites when grown in greenhouse, spray with liquid Derris to control red spider mite.