Q: I have a seven foot tall angel trumpet plant. It has numerous large white trumpet flowers. I would like to keep it alive for next year but someone told me it would freeze. Can I cut it down and cover the stump with pine straw?
A: Many people have planted angel trumpet plants around Atlanta in the last few years. It’s no surprise – the coarse shrubs are covered with stunning flowers each autumn. But the plant, which is in the same botanical family as tomatoes, can sometimes be killed by Atlanta winters.
Your idea of covering the stump with mulch after the first frost is good. Wait until Thanksgiving to cut the main stem down to six inches in height. Put a gallon pot over it and cover it with a mound of straw.
For insurance, though, you should collect some green stems in late September to root indoors. Use your pruning loppers to cut off a couple of large branches, then strip off the biggest leaves.
Cut a dozen twelve inch lengths of the branches, noting which end of each section pointed toward the branch tip and which end pointed toward the plant’s trunk. Place the “trunk” ends of the sections in a small plastic bucket and cover the ends with six inches of water. Put the bucket and branch sections in a sunny window in an unused bedroom.
You’ll be surprised to find how fast the ends of the lengths will sprout roots. The other ends will soon sprout leaves. You can plant the rooted pieces in individual pots by late December and then plant them outdoors in April.