There is nothing quite like a Magnolia in bloom to announce the coming of spring. The sight of their naked branches festooned with gorgeous cup-shaped flowers is truly breathtaking. And, what’s more, some varieties are wonderfully fragrant. These beautiful trees are valued for their longevity, large flowers in shades of white, yellow, pinks purples, and frequently attractive leaves and conelike fruits.
Latin name | Magnolia spp.
Common name | Magnolia
Family | Magnoliaceae
Magnolias were first discovered in the Orient and were named in honour of the 17th-century French botanist Pierre Magnol. There are approximately 240 species of trees and shrubs, plus hundreds of varieties. Magnolias are native to North and South America, the Himalayas and have its main distribution centre in East and South East Asia where two-thirds of the species are represented.
Did you know | Magnolias are believed to be the earliest known flowering plants, existing even before bees. The blooms were pollinated by beetles and therefore produce large amounts of pollen that beetles could feast on.
Magnolias include both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. Evergreen magnolias, like Magnolia grandiflora
, flower throughout the year and grow in most areas. Deciduous magnolias, like Magnolia x soulangiana
, flower in late winter and ideally prefer cool to temperate zones. Although they naturally grow in tropical and subtropical climates, many varieties are quite hardy. Magnolias are easy to grow and once established they need minimum attention.
When it comes to growing Magnolias, location is everything. They need adequate sun to flower; in cooler regions, full sun is ideal and in warmer areas, they will appreciate some shade. While they are hardy to frost, their delicate blooms can do with some extra protection so be sure to plant it in a position that is sheltered from cold winds.
Magnolias are ideal for urban gardens as their shallow root systems will not disturb foundations, pathways or underground pipes. This, however, makes them sensitive to root disturbance so ensure you select the right spot for planting your Magnolia the first time around. Furthermore, when planting your magnolia, ensure that it is not planted deeper than it is growing in the nursery bag.
Magnolias thrive in slightly acidic, loamy, well-draining soil, but will also grow in neutral soil. When planting, dig a large hole with plenty of acid compost and keep them well mulched with pine bark or other organic material. Keep your Magnolia well-watered, especially during dry spells, and never allow the soil to dry out completely. Feed regularly in spring and continue mulching the roots in summer to retain moisture.
Popular species native to North America:
Laurel, Southern Magnolia, Sweet bay | Magnolia grandiflora
Sweet bay | Magnolia virginiana
Big-leaf Magnolia | Magnolia macrophylla
Umbrella tree | Magnolia tripetala
Cucumber tree | Magnolia acuminata
Thompson’s Magnolia | Magnolia tripetala × virginiana
Popular species native to Asia:
Lily magnolia |Magnolia liliflora or Magnolia quinquipeta
Yulan magnolia Magnolia denudata or Magnolia heptapeta
Saucer magnolia Magnolia soulangeana
Oyama magnolia Magnolia sieboldii
Star magnolia Magnolia stellata
Discover more species and varieties in the Knowledgebase collection below!
Nurseries that may stock Magnolias:
Do you have a Magnolia in bloom? Share a post using the hashtag #MagnificentMagnolia