How to Grow Angel's Trumpet (Pricklyburr)

Angel's trumpet flower

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

In This Article

Angel's trumpet (Datura inoxia), which also goes by the common name of pricklyburr, is a perennial flower that is native to warm climates. In cooler climates, it’s often grown as an annual. The plant has a small, shrub-like appearance, growing wider than it is tall. It features dark green, oval leaves that can reach up to 8 inches long and have a soft texture. And it blooms sporadically with fragrant, upward-facing, trumpet-shaped flowers in the summer and fall that can grow up to 7 inches long and 4 inches at their widest part.

The plant is closely related to the Brugmansia genus, which also features trumpet-shaped flowers and uses the common name of angel’s trumpet. However, Brugmansia flowers are generally larger and last longer than Datura flowers. Angel’s trumpet should be planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed and the ground has warmed. The plant has a fairly rapid growth rate. Despite its beauty, care should be taken when planting because Datura inoxia is highly toxic both to people and animals. 

Botanical Name Datura  inoxia
Common Names Angel’s trumpet, pricklyburr, downy thorn apple, desert thorn apple, Indian apple, moonflower, sacred datura
Plant Type Herbaceous, perennial
Mature Size 2–3 ft. tall, 3–6 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Loamy, well-drained
Soil pH Neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Cream, pink, lavender
Hardiness Zones 9–10 (USDA)
Native Area North America, Central America, South America
Toxicity Toxic to people and animals

Angel's Trumpet Care

Angel’s trumpet plants are fairly easy to care for. You can either purchase nursery plants in the spring or start seeds indoors roughly seven weeks before your area’s projected last frost date. Transplant young plants into the garden once spring temperatures are reliably warm. Be sure to space your plants at least a few feet apart to account for their mature size, as crowded angel’s trumpet plants often produce fewer blooms. Select a planting site that gets a lot of sunlight, a key to healthy growth for angel's trumpet.

There is no need to deadhead (remove spent blooms) your angel’s trumpet plant, but you can if you wish to keep the plant looking tidy and prevent it from self-seeding. Deadheading also can help to stretch out the plant’s overall blooming period. Pruning typically isn’t necessary, but you can lightly trim the plant at any point during the growing season to keep its shape neat and growth in check. Prune off any dead, damaged, or diseased stems as they arise. Angel’s trumpet usually doesn’t have any major issues with pests or diseases. But it can be afflicted by some common plant pests, including whiteflies, mealybugs, and spider mites. Treat any issues with an insecticide or a natural remedy as soon as you spot them.

Light

Angel’s trumpet does best growing in full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. It can grow in partial shade, but this often will cause the plant to be leggier and produce fewer flowers. 

Soil

The plant can survive in a variety of soil types. But it prefers a rich, loamy soil with sharp drainage. A neutral or slightly alkaline soil pH is best, and it can even tolerate very alkaline soil. For container plants, a loose all-purpose potting mix is generally fine.

Water

This flower has moderate moisture needs. During its first growing season, water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Standing water can lead to root rot on a plant. Mature plants have some drought tolerance but still prefer a weekly watering during spells without rainfall and/or during the warmest parts of the year. Water whenever the soil has dried out about an inch down. Reduce watering in the winter; only water to prevent the soil from completely drying out.

Temperature and Humidity

Angel’s trumpet prefers warm temperatures. It has good heat tolerance as long as its moisture needs are met. But it’s not very cold hardy, and frost and freezing temperatures can damage or kill it. Ideally it should be kept in temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity typically isn’t an issue for the plant with proper watering. It’s possible to bring angel’s trumpet indoors for the winter in areas outside of its growing zones. Place it by a bright window, and protect it from drafts. But many growers prefer simply to start new plants in the spring. 

Fertilizer

If you have rich soil, supplemental fertilization might not be necessary. But if you need to give your plant a boost, feed it in the spring with a fertilizer made for flowering plants, following label instructions. Compost mixed into the soil in the spring can also be beneficial.

Is Angel's Trumpet Toxic?

All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous alkaloids, especially the seeds and flowers, that are toxic to people and animals when ingested. Just a small amount is enough to kill a person or large animal. 

Symptoms of Poisoning

Some symptoms of toxicity in people and animals include disorientation, enlarged pupils, abnormal heart rate, abnormal respiratory rate, hyperthermia, gastrointestinal issues, lethargy, seizures, and paralysis. If you suspect poisoning, contact a medical professional immediately.

Angel's Trumpet Varieties

There are several other Datura species that also use the common name of angel’s trumpet, including: 

  • Datura metel: This species is slightly more cold-tolerant than Datura inoxia but otherwise is very similar to the plant.
  • Datura ferox: Also known as the long-spined thorn apple, this species sports intimidatingly large spines on its seed pods. 
  • Datura stramonium: Commonly called thorn apple or jimsonweed, this plant also is notable for its small, prickly seed capsules, as well as its trumpet-shaped flowers.