Thursday, July 24, 2014


I won't attempt to give a species name to this plant as there are several hybrids and a great deal of confusion in its taxonomy right now. As far as I can tell it does not even have a common name. It is in the Solanaceae family which has such unlike members as tomatoes and eggplant along with poisonous members as Brugsmania (angel's trumpet) and Datura (jimpson weed). Like Brugmansia and Datura which is used by medicine men in South America, it is likely poisonous and hallucinogenic. Iochroma is native to the mountains of Ecuador. 

Iochroma is not hardy in my zone 8a garden, as I well know from trying it outside several years. I always take cuttings which root easily and overwinter them in the greenhouse. Up until this year my results with Iochroma in the flower bed were fairly dismal. The plant remained small and produced few flowers. This year I put a rooted cutting into a five gallon pot and gave it lots of water and some fertilizer. Wow!! It grew to 2 or 3 times the size it usually becomes in the soil, and had flowers at the end of every branch. I had found the key! Plenty of water! A few days ago I decided to move the pot containing the Iochroma into a spot that would get less sun as the days are getting hotter. The next day all of the flowers were gone (eaten off) and about a third of the leaves. Yesterday all the leaves were gone and the whole plant was just bare stems. I suppose the culprit could have been a squirrel or a deer, or even some insect larvae (tomato horn worm type?), but whatever it was, I hope it has a belly ache now!

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