Atropa belladonna, or yellow belladonna, is a beautiful branching herb that must be grown very carefully. Belladonna is a member of the nightshade family, and parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and animals if consumed. The plant grows up to 5 feet tall with branching, shiny leaves and berries that look tasty, but they can cause serious illness or death if consumed. Never plant this herb in a garden where children or animals can be exposed to it. However, if you have a safe place to grow it, belladonna can be a great ornamental addition to the garden.
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Things you need
- Seed tray
- Organic soil amendments
Fill a small, sealable bottle with cold water and pour in your belladonna seeds. Store the water in the refrigerator and freshen the water every day for two weeks. This imitates the normal freeze/thaw cycle of winter, which causes germination.
Sow the cold-treated seeds in a seeding tray filled with damp sand. Store the seeds in a warm area (between 17.8 and 22.2 degrees Celsius) in filtered sunlight. The seeds will germinate and form small sprouts within four weeks. Keep the sprouts consistently moist as they grow.
Mix 2 to 3 inches of organic compost, peat moss or humus into an area of your garden that receives about four hours of direct sunlight daily. Belladonna grows best in a well-draining, fertile and partly shaded area.
Transplant young belladonna sprouts outdoors in the spring, when all threat of frost has passed. If you are planting multiple sprouts, space them at least 18 inches apart.
Water the soil so that it is consistently moist but not forming puddles. Water whenever the top inch to 1 1/2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch. The plant does better being slightly dry than consistently wet.
Feed the belladonna with a balanced, liquid flower fertiliser per product instructions. Some of these products need application only once per year, while others will need to be applied three or four times. Stop feeding in early fall to allow the plant to go dormant. It will die off in the winter and return again in the spring.
Tips and warnings
- You can also grow belladonna indoors in planting pots with drainage holes. Use well-draining soil mix. Repot every three to four years with fresh soil.
- Always wear gloves when handling any part of the belladonna plant. Contact with skin can cause allergic reactions and you must be careful not to touch your skin to your mouth or other sensitive areas or you could suffer the poisoning effects of the plant.
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