Brunfelsia is a genus that contains about 50 species of colorful and adorable flowering plants in the Solanaceae family. Although you’ll usually find these tropical plants as ‘Brunfelsia’ which is their genus name, you might also find them in nurseries or markets by other common names like “Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow”, “Raintree”, or “Lady of the Night”.
These interesting plants are grouped into three main sections (Brunfelsia, Franciscea, Guianenses), which vary significantly in both characteristics and distribution. They are native to several regions worldwide including the Caribbean, Brazil, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, or the Argentinian and Bolivian Andes.
About Brunfelsia Plants
- The most popular Brunfelsia species that gardeners love to grow as ornamental houseplants include B. americana, B. australis, and B. pauciflora.
- The main reasons why gardeners all around the world love Brunfelsia flowers are their tricolored flowers and drought-tolerance.
- In their natural habitat, wild Brunfelsia plants thrive in light woodland and thickets.
- Some Brunfelsia plants contain toxic and medicinal alkaloids which can have negative effects on the health of domestic animals. Therefore, it is best to grow them in a location where your curious beloved ones cannot reach them.
- The roots of ‘Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow’ contain helpful toxins that can be used to reduce fevers and can also make an excellent treatment for rheumatism, snake bites, and syphilis.
- Besides their ornamental purposes, Brunfelsia plants have aphrodisiac properties.
- In the past, people used these plants as an anesthetic, blood cleanser, diuretic, or antirheumatic medicine.
- Brunfelsia plants do well in environmental conditions that simulate their wild habitat. They prefer bright light to partial shade and slightly warmer temperatures.
- These flowers are humidity-lovers and enjoy having their feet constantly wet. For extra care, you can prune them once in a while and provide them with fertilizer as needed.
Brunfelsia Plants Features: An Overview
- The species from the Brunfelsia genus are usually neotropical shrubs, small trees, and sometimes lianas. They usually grow on their own but sometimes they will use trees for support.
- In their natural habitat, Brunfelsia plants can reach up to 12 feet (3.6 m) in both height and width. If you plan on growing Brunfelsia plants in pots, keep in mind that they won’t grow more than 3.3 feet (1 m).
- Their foliage consists of simple, shiny, oval, and green leaves that appear alternately arranged on long and slender stems.
- During their blooming period, in spring and fall, these plants produce many delicate flowers that can also come along with a pleasant fragrance at night.
- Their blossoms are rather fragile in their appearance. They are large and have five petals that can be exhibited in various shades of white, pink, lavender, and purple.
- Once their flowering season has ended, the bloomings are followed by fruits that look like small berries. They contain many seeds and, depending on their stage, can be green, orange, red, or brown.
- Thanks to their showy flowers, Brunfelsia plants can be great companions to many other species of plants including Rhododendron, Fuchsia, Muscari, or Cineraria.
Growing Brunfelsia Plants
Like most perennial species of shrubs, Brunfelsia plants are super friendly and can thrive in almost any type of environment. However, if you want to give your plants the time of their life, you might want to pay attention to their very few, but particular demands. But do not worry, gardener! As always, if you care for your plants properly, they will not hesitate to show their gratitude through beautiful growth and colorful flowers.
As mentioned above, in their natural habitat, Brunfelsia plants grow in thickets and light woodlands that provide them with partial shade. If you want to grow your plants outdoors, in the garden, plant them in a spot where they can get protection from the scorching sun. Indoors, these plants grow at their best in slightly shaded locations, such as near windows with curtain sheers to mimic their natural habitat or in room corners.
Brunfelsia plants are tropical by nature, so they do well in humid environments and warm temperatures. During the summer months, these plants enjoy average room temperatures or values that range from 68 to 71 °F (20-22 °C). Sudden temperature changes can be pretty harmful to your Brunfelsia plants, so it is better to grow them indoors in pots. This is especially true if you live in a region with harsh winters. You can also bring your outdoor plants inside when temperatures get cooler, but you must place them in a location where they can receive at least 3-4 hours of bright light daily.
All Brunfelsia species grow at a slow pace, thus many gardeners prune them only for aesthetic purposes. If you dream about achieving that specific bushiness, you can give your Brunfelsia plants a neater overall appearance right after the spring flowering. To make this happen, make sure you remove all the spent blossoms and give your plants a light trim yearly.
Although these flowers are typically disease and pest-free, they can be occasionally bothered by aphids. These intruders can weaken your Brunfelsia plants by sucking their sap, so you should act immediately after noticing some suspect presence on your plants. Unless there is an advanced infestation, aphids can be removed gently by using water sprays or neem oil.
Planting Brunfelsia Flowers
Brunfelsia plants are one of a kind and deserve the best growing medium we can provide them with! In general, these beauties perform best in sandy, loamy, or silt and acidic soils that come along with excellent drainage. When you are looking for potting soils in markets, we advise you to choose fertile substrates that are rich in organic matter.
In terms of fertilizers, your indoor Brunfelsia plants will need regular feedings once every two weeks during their growing period. Outdoor plants, however, have no high demands and do not require regular feedings unless the soil is not acidic enough. Before adding any fertilizer, go on and test the pH of the growing substrate around your plants.
If the soil is not in the correct pH range (<6.0), Brunfelsia plants will benefit from a liquid fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants applied at about ½ strength. If it turns out that the soil is acidic enough, you can just add an acidic mulch like pine needles or peat moss.
When you are growing Brunfelsia plants in containers, they will require repotting once in a while. In early spring, remove your plants from their pots to inspect their root system. If the flowers tend to outgrow their current pots or their roots seem crowded, plant them in slightly larger ones filled with fresh potting mix.
Watering Brunfelsia Plants
The secret of thriving Brunfelsia plants is the amount of water they receive daily. Big lovers of moisture, these plants prefer to have their feet wet constantly. These plants do not enjoy drought very much but you should still avoid over-watering them. Like most plants, Brunfelsias do not appreciate soggy conditions or waterlogging.
For an optimal watering routine, make sure you always check the soil in-between waterings. If the substrate feels dry to the touch, you can provide your lovely plants with water but not in high quantities. With these plants, it is best to go with the flow!
Unlike the Brunfelsia shrubs that you grow in the garden, potted plants will require a little more attention to grow healthy and happy. During the summer months, you must check your plants daily because extra warmth will dry their soil faster. In winter, these plants go dormant and need less water than usual, so you should reduce the frequency of watering accordingly.
Propagating Brunfelsia Plants
Brunfelsia flowers are so delicate and easy-going that it would be a shame not to add more of these bushy companions to your plant family. No matter how much experience you have with flowering plants, you won’t have any problems propagating Brunfelsias. These plants can be propagated by any type of gardener through stem cuttings or seeds. Both methods are very easy and usually take no more than a few minutes to finish.
If you want to surprise your family or friends with a gorgeous gift, you should propagate Brunfelsia plants using cuttings. Look for healthy stems and cut about 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) off them with sterilized garden scissors or pruners. In the next step, make sure you remove all the leaves you can found on the lower half of each cutting.
With a sharp and sterile knife, make tiny slits through the bark at the base of your Brunfelsia cuttings and dip the cut ends in rooting hormone before planting. After this process, plant each cutting in its own pot. Use a mixture of damp, well-draining potting soil combined with vermiculite or perlite. For optimal results, cover the pots with plastic bags and let the end of them slightly open.
The Brunfelsia cuttings will germinate properly if you keep them in a well-lit and warm location where they will get protection from the wind. If you provide the cuttings with water regularly to maintain the soil constantly damp, they will develop a healthy root system in 4-6 weeks.
Propagation from seeds is also a nice choice, but it will take longer to show nice results. The Brunfelsia seeds grow either in pods or seedheads and must be collected from the mother plant when the fruits are ripe. At this moment, you can safely remove the dry pods or seedheads and sow them in fresh potting soil.
Brunfelsia plants have their own way to win your heart, so why not offer them a place in your indoor or outdoor garden. These flowers look absolutely stunning and, besides that, they are relatively easy to grow, care for, and also propagate. In fewer words, once you decide to add one of these shrubbies into your collection, they will be your friendly companions for a long time!