Rooting Brugmansia From Cuttings

What do I cut?


First Y and flower bud

The sure sign of immature wood will be straight up, vertical growth, with no lateral growth or branches. This is called the Juvenile Stage.
A cutting taken from such wood will take its own sweet time to reach the mature, FLORESCENT
(flowering) stage. Seedlings continue growing straight up and can reach heights of several feet before the wood matures and develops the lateral branching Y signaling the beginning of FLORESCENCE. Cuttings taken from the mature growth normally produce plants that flower in less than a year.





It is common to see huge flowers, up to 24" (depending on the species), awkwardly dangling from plants that are only a few inches tall! Sunray

tinybud.jpg (65430 bytes)








Pre-Roots, Nubbies, Little White Bumps and Lenticels!


bumpy texture

Before you make your cuts, examine the texture of the Brugmansia stem you want to take the cutting from. Look for what are lovingly referred to as: pre-roots, nubbies, little white bumps and LENTICELS.. Many of the more difficult to root Brugmansia species and their hybrids, and all new-growth wood from any B. species, are smooth and lack these obvious bumps!







The Cut!


4-6 inch long cuttings are normally used. Any length or diameter can be rooted, from scrawny little woody twig to baseball bat and larger.



Sterilize your pruners or knife to the best of your abilities. Make your cut above or below a NODE which is simply the joint where new branches, leaves and flowers grow from.
You can root the portions above the top two lines and they will produce cuttings that flower quickly. The portion between the green lines may or may not flower quickly. The portion below the bottom green line will have to develop new
Y lateral growth to begin the FLORESCENT stage once again.






..............Now What?

Remove all but the smallest, new growth leaves so that your cutting can concentrate on root formation and not have to suffer the struggle to keep those heavy, no longer needed, leaves alive.


cutting stripped of all but newest growth







Water Rooting











The White spots will become future roots










The easiest way to root Brugmansia is to simply put the cuttings in a glass container, such as an ordinary drinking glass, and fill the container 3"-4" with ordinary room-temp tap water. Place the cuttings in the glass without overcrowding them. For those giant cuttings (length or diameter), you can use a bucket.

Never let the water get overly cold which happens in air-conditioned environments and when cutting are placed next to a window during the cold months. Never let the water get overly warm because your cuttings might cook and turn to mush. Fewer problems are encountered when cuttings are taken in June and July and water-rooted outside in a warm semi shady-shady environment.
Never let the water get old. The water should not be allowed to get cloudy, nor should it be a home for strange, wriggly critters. Refresh the water frequently.

Within a few short days you should see the bumps begin to pooch out (swell) and turn lighter in color. Some growers go ahead and pot the cuttings at this stage with great success. Others wait so long that the cuttings develop complex and interesting looking "root-beards", several inches long. These roots can be severely trimmed with no visible trauma to the cutting or plant.







wait for the little white bumps to swell










Note: If your cutting begins to rot in water, salvage what you can by cutting the mushy part off (back to firm wood) and try a soil-rooting method.

Water rooting


Stinky waits for roots!







How can I tell which end is the top and which is the bottom?

Soil Rooting and Potting Brugmansia Cuttings

container filled with sterile soil




Soil Rooting




To soil root Brugmansia cuttings, follow the same instructions for water rooting ... except use soil!




Plant rooted or unrooted cutting in a container filled with sterile, well drained soil. Make a hole in the soil to match the size of the cutting's new root system. Completely cover the roots with soil and gently firm the soil around the base of the cutting. Thoroughly soak the the soil with water. Replace any soil that settled after you watered. Better too dry, than too wet! Keep the soil damp but not soggy. Too much water can kill Brugmansia cuttings.
Place the newly planted cutting in dappled shade (under a tree) for its first few weeks and do not feed it. When you see signs of new growth on your cutting it's time to begin feeding it lightly and time to adjust it to more direct sunlight. At 4-6 weeks old your new plant should be fully adjusted to its new independent life. It is ready to be transplanted into a larger container if you started with a small 3 to 4" container.




None Of These Rooting Methods Seem To Work?

If you still have problems rooting certain Brugmansia cuttings you might consider the Air Layering method.









You might also try rooting compounds




such as Indole-3-Butyric Acid (IBA). IBA can help to soil-root and Air layer the smaller, smooth textured, newest growth cuttings, and the smoother woods of species such as B. arborea and B. sanguinea. IBA compounds can be purchased as liquids and powders of various strengths. Use as directed.




Stressed plants that show obvious nutrition deficiencies, insect infestations, soil borne diseases or virus symptoms should not be used for cuttings.

Brugmansia Trees

Choose the tallest, straightest and strongest stem growing from the soil and get rid of the others. As the stem grows and matures remove lower branches and leaves and continue doing so until the stem Y's . The Y can happen at any height and if you are really lucky your Y growth will begin at eyelevel or above . If it Y's at a much shorter height, you will still be able to create your own version of a tree.

poke a hole 3-4 inches deep

insert cutting

firm soil

keep in semishade-shade the first week

Other rooting methods


Another common method, that has been used for years by collectors who propagate large diameter cane cuttings of many different genera, is to lay the cutting length wise (horizontally) on top of sterile soil, leaving as many nodes/buds exposed to the sky as possible. Each node/bud is a possible new plant. If your cutting has the infamous little white bumps lightly press the whole length of the large diameter cutting into the soil, deep enough to prevent it from rolling around. For smoother woods and smaller diameters, completely cover the entire stem with soil leaving only the new growth exposed. Keep the soil damp but not soggy (much like leaving them to lay in the compost pile). Brugmansia cuttings with their pre-roots, nubbies, little white bumps and LENTICELS, are especially well designed and well suited for this method.

Note: You can lay those long lengths and large diameter canes horizontally in containers like those used to soak wall paper, filled with water. Or you can fill a 13 gallon or taller trash can with water and stand the cuttings on end, totally submerged. After you see the beginning signs of pre-roots, nubbies, little white bumps and LENTICELS, completely bury the cane horizontally, leaving only the buds and nodes exposed. Planted stem tip to stem tip - - -, a row of these rooted canes that have several new growth stems on each one and that produce "similar in size and shape" flowers of various colors, would make a beautiful hedge.
Two different canes planted side by side
= would make a beautiful stand-alone shrub/focal point, but you should choose brugs that have similar flowering periods.







How can I tell which end is the top and which is the bottom?

lay cutting horizontally

cover stem with soil and firm











The following rooting method is useful for rooting a large quantity of cuttings in a limited space.

First cut a strip of black plastic several inches wider than the height of the cuttings. The one pictured is cut from a black, plastic trash bag, about 12-inches wide and 30-inches long. Spread a thick layer of damp, long fiber sphagnum moss, over the plastic. Arrange the cuttings an inch or two apart on top of the moss, so that half their length is in the moss and tops will be sticking out of the moss. Another thin layer of damp moss should be spread over the bottoms of the cuttings to keep them from touching bare plastic when it's rolled up. 
From one end roll the strip into a bundle as you would a jelly-roll. Keep it loose but tight enough to hold all the cuttings in place. Secure the roll with rubber bands and stand it up right. The bottom of the roll is left open for water to drain out. Place your roll on a tray or in a tub out of direct sunlight. Be sure to monitor the moss for moisture and water when it appears to be drying. The moss will stay moist for a long
time so additional watering is seldom necessary

After two weeks some of your cuttings will begin to sprout roots. You can remove them at this time for potting, or let them remain in the bundle until all the cuttings have roots. I found this method works well with both hardwood and greenwood cuttings. As long as cuttings are healthy to begin with, seldom any rotting occurs.


and Instructions donated by Sue Poland

How to root arborea! 


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Take only the side shoots that come up frequently on the trunk. The stem portion of the side shoot must be at least 6 inches long. Take a sterile razor (don't use any kind of clippers, too much tissue damage and rot will ensue),
strip off all but the top leaves, dip the cutting in Shultz (IBA+NAA) Root Starter, stick in clean, sterile,
damp vermiculite, place on heat mat @72ºF and should see roots in 3-4 weeks. Don't transplant till there are quite a few roots in the rooting container. (I use clear, clean, cut off Gatorade bottles so I can see the roots)

Susie French