The Thorn Apple (Datura) is a native of Mexico and similar countries, none are hardy, but owing to rapid growth some succeed well if treated as half-hardy annuals, and make effective plants in a short season.
Varieties of Thorn Apple
The best varieties of Thorn Apple are:
- D. ceratocaula, from 2 to 3 feet high, with large, scented, trumpet-like flowers, often 6 inches in length, and 4 or 5 inches across, white, tinged with violet-purple, expanding in the afternoon and closing on the following morning.
- D. fastuosa is a handsome species, having white blossoms smaller than the preceding; there is a fine variety of it with the tube of the flower violet and the inside white. The most striking forms of this species bear "double" flowers, the primary corolla having a second and sometimes a third corolla arising form its tube, all being perfectly regular in form, and often being parti-colored, as in the single variety with violet flowers.
- D. meteloides is a handsome Mexican plant, called in gardens Wrights Datura. Isolated specimens of it have a fine aspect in sunny but sheltered nooks. It is from 3 to 4 feet high, has wide-spreading branches, and blooms from the middle of July till frost sets in, the flowers white, tinged with mauve; from 4 to 6 inches across, showy and sweet, but the leaves emit a disagreeable odour.
- D. suaveolens, another good white variety, is a profuse bloomer, its flowers being perhaps larger, but single.
- D. sanguinea has flowers of a deep orange-yellow tinged with green towards the base; it does not flower quite so freely as the white kinds, but should be grown for its distinct character.
How to Grow
The plants hitherto known as Brugmansia are now considered to belong to Datura. They are of easy cultivation, and soon make large plants. The best way of growing is as standards, so that their long drooping flowers may be better seen. In the flower garden a sheltered but sunny position should be chosen. The plants may be safely put out about the end of May in good warm soil.
When in a house, either in tubs or in the border, an annual pruning should be given early in the spring, and they should be kept within bounds. Under glass the chief enemy is green fly, but fumigation soon disposes of this.
The propagation of these plants is simple, the young shoots being merely taken off in spring and struck in a gentle heat, one cutting in a small pot. Grow them on as fast as possible keeping them to the one stem until of good height. They will yield a few flowers the first autumn when planted out, but as they get older they flower more profusely.