Growing Datura Moonflowers
Datura metel belongs to the genus of Datura that consists of several herbaceous flowering plants. Datura metel is commonly referred to as Angel's Trumpets and Moonflowers. It has become naturalized in temperate and tropical regions around the world. There are annual and perennial types depending on species and climate. Datura metel have a distinctly large trumpet-shaped flower with large green leaves that grow in an alternating pattern. The majority of the flowers are open in late evening until mid-morning.
The seed pods of Datura metel are recognizable spiky balls similar to the pods of Sycamore trees, but with fewer spikes that are more prominent.
Growing datura metel takes some patience but yields beautiful results. Warmth and moisture are key throughout the growth of the plant. Transplanting requires delicate care and attention. Datura metel doesn't seem to mind what type of soil it grows in, and it has been known to grow through cracks in concrete.
Datura metel seed pods are spiky balls that release many seeds when ripe. The seeds can be gathered and prepared for future germination. Moisture is key throughout the life cycle of the plant and germination is no different. A few processes must be endured by the seed before germination is even a possibility. Stratification and scarification are both beneficial for germination.
Stratification & Scarification
Stratification is the process many seeds endure during winter months. The seeds are frozen throughout winter and thaw upon the arrival of spring. This process of freezing and thawing benefits the seeds of datura. Scarification occurs when the seed coat is scratched or scarred before germination. This weakens the tough seed coat enough for the seedling to break through. Both of these processes benefit the germination of datura metel seeds.
Germinating Datura Moonflower
Datura metel seeds must be kept moist for 3 to 6 weeks within a temperature range around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Peat pods are easy to keep moist and transplanting pods will put less stress on the vulnerable seedlings. Place the sown peat pods in a sunny area. Remain patient while waiting for seedlings to appear. Do not let the peat pods dry out.
Transplanting Datura Seedlings
Datura metel seedlings are fragile and cannot withstand rough handling and conditions during transplanting. Knowing when to plant, where to begin growing, how to transplant, and space estimation of datura metel will reduce transplant shock and increase success rate.
Transplant once the last frost has subsided, usually around late April and early May. Regions that experience little to no winters can plant earlier, while regions that experience winter are better off waiting until May for good measure against a late frost.
Select an area that receives full sun during the majority of the day. Datura metel are sun-loving plants and never seem to get too much sun. The more sun, the larger the plant will grow as long as moisture is kept in check. Moist does not mean "wet." Select an area that does not dry out quickly or is susceptible to becoming waterlogged.
Datura metel do not like to be disturbed once the roots have taken hold. Keep the peat pod intact when transplanting to reduce transplant shock. Water thoroughly once transplanted, and carefully press the soil around and on top the peat pod. Keep the soil moist, but not wet as stated above. Some varieties can withstand waterlogged soil for a short period of time due to their tropical habitats that experience torrential rainfalls, but saturated soil should be avoided when possible.
Spacing Between Plants
Datura metel spread out laterally and become dense with foliage - up to 4 to 6 feet wide. Spacing is key, otherwise overcrowding will occur. Spacing too far apart will disrupt the attractive flow of the large white flowers. Estimate accordingly.
Soil for Datura
Datura metel do not seem to be very picky about soil. Many times datura metel will grow through the cracks of concrete while remaining seemingly healthy and stable. A loamy soil is ideal due to moderate drainage and nutrient content. Amendments of organic matter can be thoroughly worked into overly sandy or clayey soil to provide nutrients, moisture, and drainage.
Knowing how to prepare soil for planting is always beneficial. Datura metel will flourish when provided ideal soil conditions.
Insects do not seem to bother datura metel very much, but slugs may dine on the juicy leaves. Slugs can be simply plucked off and killed with salt. The Datura genus contains many species, so insects and pests in some regions of the world may cause major problems for datura metel. Pay close attention and take note of possible pests. Try to avoid pesticides and herbicides as much as possible. Insecticides may harm or kill beneficial insects that are attracted to the flowers, or may even stunt the growth of datura metel. Glyphosate herbicide (Round-Up) will kill datura metel if used too close to the plant.
Datura is highly toxic! Do not plant it where children and pets have access!
Datura contains several toxins that are lethally poisonous and cause severe delirium. Poisoned victims cannot differentiate the difference between hallucinations and reality. Scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine are the toxic agents throughout datura metel. There have been thousands of deaths worldwide attributed to intentional and unintentional consumption. Datura metel cannot be used as a recreational drug. Consumption is extremely dangerous both psychically and mentally. The dangers of consuming datura metel cannot be stressed enough.
Did you know datura is highly toxic prior to reading this hub?
Questions & Answers
Will deer eat Datura Moonflowers?
Unlikely. Datura is deer-resistant, but deer may try to consume it if conditions for foraging aren’t ideal. There are several other plants that are less toxic which can be used to deter deer.