Every year I give a talk at my local garden club. It's an event I look forward too as members send in lots of interesting and challenging questions.
This year did not disappoint and I thought you might like to see some of the questions and answers.
The first part of this series is on Magnolias. You can also read my answers on Peonies here
Q1. Are any magnolias grafted and if so, what are the rootstocks?
• Most magnolias sold today are grafted plants.
• This means that the long wait until the first flowering can be avoided.
• The scion material (upper part of the plant) used to make the graft comes from the flowering tips and branches of existing plants.
• Some grafted tree magnolias will even flower while still in their pots but it would be very bad luck for a grafted plant not to be flowering away within 3-5 years from planting.
The two common rootstocks are Magnolia champaka and Magnolia acuminata.
Seedpods of Magnolia champaka
Q2. Is the rootstock worth keeping if the top dies and can the rootstock be re-used?
• If you let it grow you could end up with a very large tree (e.g. acuminata can grow to 30m!) with fairly insignificant flowers.
• If you have a lot of space you could try and grow it on.
• But remember that it will probably take 5 years or so before it starts flowering, and only at this point would you be able to identify it.
Seedpod of Magnolia acuminata
For more questions and answers read the next part of the series on Peonies here