Magnolia: Growing Guide

Deciduous trees and shrubs, sometimes referred to as the tulip tree, but this name belongs properly to the Lirioden-dron .


Magnificent ornamental shrubs for any garden, whether large or small. In areas where late night frosts may mar the flowers, it is advisable to select later flowering varieties or species. Full sun or very light shade, and fairly sheltered position. Tree-forming species should be confined to large gardens or parks.


Fairly demanding as regards soil, which should preferably be loamy, or in any case generously manured and constantly damp.


Species from seed ; garden varieties by layering or grafting under glass.

Magnolia kobus: Small tree, to 8 m; pure white, medium-sized flowers appear before the foliage, in mid to late spring. Magnolia liliiflora: Height to 3 m, spreading habit; the purple-red flowers do not appear until late spring, often for a second time in early to mid autumn, especially the somewhat darker coloured cultivar ‘Nigra’. Suitable for places where late night frosts may cause damage. Magnolia X soulangiana: Hybrid, height to 4 m and as much in diameter; very large flowers with a tinge of lilac from mid to late spring, some strains earlier than others. Recommended forms are: ‘Alba Superba’, pure white, medium early; ‘Alexandrina’, flowers rose red on the outside, very early; ‘Brozzonii’, very large flowers, white with a little purple, late flowering; ‘Lennei’, bell-shaped flowers, purple outside, late flowering; ‘Speciosa’, flowers purple at the base, the outer petals slightly reflexed, flowers late.

Magnolia stellata: Height to 2 m, very slow growing and therefore suitable for quite small gardens, although the mature tree is very wide and particularly beautiful. The star-shaped white flowers appear early, from early to mid spring, and consequently are easily damaged by night frost when they are grown in colder regions. Always provide a sheltered position, for instance under trees which do not cast too dense shade. The shrub itself is quite winter-hardy. The cultivar ‘Rosea’ has flowers with a slight tinge of pink; in ‘Waterlily’ the petals are more elongated, also slightly pink.

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