Brunfelsia: yesterday, today and tomorrow

One of the most beautiful perennial plants is definitely Brunfelsia, originating in western India and tropical America, spontaneously spread mainly in Brazil. This plant is also known in other parts of the world and is particular as they have called it in the Anglo-Saxon countries, or “Yesterday, today, tommorow” because of its abundant flowering.
This plant has a very large root and can reach very important heights, from a minimum of two meters up to a maximum of five meters. The plant is formed by straight and woody stems in the lower part, semi-woody in the upper part, while the twigs that make up the crown are covered with a gray-green bark.
Brunfelsia has oval-shaped leaves with a pointed end with a variable appearance since in the upper face the color is decidedly darker than that of the underlying face.
The many flowers for which Brunfelsia is famous, sprout on the end of the upper branches or among the leaves, presenting themselves flat and equipped with five petals with wavy edges.
The color of these very particular flowers varies from purple when they have just blossomed, passing through a color similar to that of lavender (lilac, almost blue) in full bloom, to get to white before wilting.

Cultivation methods

Brunfelsia must be placed in bright, but partially shaded places, in fact in Northern Italy it is also possible to keep it totally exposed to the sun. In spring and summer this plant can also be kept in direct sun exposure for at least a couple of hours, but preferably in the less hot hours, that is, in the early morning or at dusk. In winter, however, it must be kept indoors or in a greenhouse because Brunfelsia fears the cold a lot, taking into account that the ideal temperature is between 20 and 10 ° C.
The optimal soil for its cultivation must be acid and well drained, preferably with a layer of clay and peat or a mixture of sand and silt.
This plant loves humidity so you have to water it often, especially in very hot periods. Young plants need a lot of water to develop roots and for a thick crown, paying attention that the soil is not drenched too much and that we remember to decrease the quantity of irrigation water in the winter period.

Diseases and possible remedies

Brunfelsia is not used to suffering from fungal diseases, but like any plant it can suffer from root rot caused by excessive stagnation of water. The parasites that could attack it are mealybugs and white flies. When it presents a yellowing of the leaves, it means that the plant is suffering from little light or an abundant supply of water: in this case the watering must be stopped and the plant must be moved to a brighter place.
To prevent the attack of pests, just help the plant with a pyrethrum treatment or manually remove the mealybugs with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. To prevent the roots from rotting, just get well-drained soil and drain the saucer from excess water.


Brunfelsia, especially the American one, has the honor of inheriting the name of the German botanist Otto Brunfels.

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