Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Growing Magnificent Magnolias In The Garden Reviewed

When we moved here many years ago we inherited a gorgeous Magnolia tree. If you have a garden and suitable conditions I would recommend growing a Magnolia.

There are many types from small trees to very large trees. Colours are so beautiful and range from a shell-like pink, dark pink, yellow, purple, red and white. If I could I would have one of each. 

 

The Beauty Of  A Magnolia

It is true that the flowers only last a few weeks or just over a month in Spring but they are so worth waiting for each year and for me signal that Spring is truly here and the poor weather is mostly behind us. It is a sign of hope, of joy and more than once has made my heart full of happiness. 

Nothing lifts my spirits quite like looking out of the window on a spring morning to see our beautiful Magnolia in full bloom its delicate yet robust flowers carried proudly on bare stems.

Magnolia generally flower on bare stems so you just see the beautiful flowers carried on bare branches. As the flowers fade the leaves come in, gorgeous soft green leaves that last all summer and well into autumn.

Winter gives us the bare branches that have their own architectural splendor especially when snow or frost lies on the branches. We drape the bare branches in festive lights which look very pretty. 

Magnolias are fascinating. They are an ancient tree primarily pollinated by beetles. Flying insects and bees may well visit now to take advantage of any pollen, but they are not what Magnolia originally sought to attract. 

However, do not worry you will not be overrun with beetles as you really do not often even see them.

Magnolias come in a wide variety of sizes and colours. They usually carry gorgeous tulip shaped flowers or in the case of Stellata, a star shaped flower.

Most are deciduous but there are a few that are evergreen though these will usually require a more sheltered place. If you want fragrance then there are Magnolias with scent. 



Colours vary from a light blush pink of Magnolia Soulangiana, the deep purple of Magnolia Susan and the delicate white fragrant stars of Magnolia Stellata or the yellow flower of Magnolia Acruminata "Yellow Bird". There are too many to mention here but you can easily find a Magnolia you like.

Magnolias can grow to be very large but we can also buy smaller varieties more suitable for smaller town gardens. It is really a case of checking the full grown size of the tree. 

This is not however a quick growing plant. We will need to have patience for it to grow over ten or even twenty years. However, it is still so very beautiful in its younger years, it is always worth introducing a Magnolia into a garden. 

I know we will be leaving this house and garden in the next few years so I have bought two smaller magnolia varieties which I am growing on in pots that will be ready to plant out in our new garden once we move. 

It may be that we do not get to see them full-grown but they will bring us so much pleasure as they grow from beautiful delicate buds to full gorgeous blooms with lovely green leaves. 

 

  

Magnolia Soil Conditions And Watering

Magnolias love neutral to slightly acidic soil which is free draining. Our soil is slightly acidic but is heavy clay and our magnolia has grown very well. This is perhaps as our soil is very fertile which is also something Magnolias love. 

However, not everyone will have acidic soil so if you have alkaline soil and want to grow a Magnolia you are best to buy Magnolia Grandiflora or Magnolia Delavayi.

It is best to plant your Magnolia in a sunny spot. If it is sheltered as well that is a bonus as the flowers won't be blown off so much by the wind or so damaged by frost. 

 


A good rule of thumb is that the colder the area you live in choose a later flowering variety. That way you will be less troubled by frost and cold winds damaging the flowers or tree. Good varieties for cold areas are Magnolia Apollo or Magnolia Caerhays Surprise.

A grown magnolia takes care of itself with regards to water, in fact, you can do more harm than good watering it once it is well established. Naturally, its roots will go down to seek water so best to leave it alone. The last thing you want is for the roots to grow upwards seeking the water you are providing. 

However, in its first year it will need good deep watering and maybe also in its second year, you can give it deep drinks of water. It is always a good idea to mulch around a Magnolia of any age each year with bark.

 


Pruning A Magnolia

This plant has specific pruning needs but do not be worried by this. If you have planted it in an appropriate area for its size pruning will be minimal. 

Each year after flowering check it over for any broken or crossing branches and prune those out completely. 

Be careful not to prune too much as Magnolias can become stressed and cease to flower. A good rule is no more than a third of the plant is pruned each year. 

Sadly our naturally huge magnolia was planted by previous occupants really too close to the house so we have to prune it rather more than I would like to keep it smaller than its natural size. 

We are careful though to prune only up to a third each year and over the last 20 years have left at least one year in every 3 where we do not prune anything except broken or crossing branches. 

A smaller magnolia or one that has more space to grow naturally may well only need pruning once every few years. 

If you have a Magnolia only ever prune it after it has finished flowering and the green leaves are growing in. Mid-summer is a perfect time. If you prune in the autumn you will cut off many of the flower buds. 



Planting A New Magnolia.

it is a good idea to buy your Magnolia as a mature plant as you can afford. It will establish itself much better. However not too large a plant that it is difficult to plant easily. Also do your research as to variety, so that you know the fully grown tree will fit comfortably into the space available. 

The roots of a Magnolia are surprisingly shallow so you don't need to dig a really deep hole. Do however make it wide enough so there is no competing grass around the plant. 

The planting hole needs to be the same depth as the pot and we should be careful to treat it gently and not damage any roots. Firm in carefully and after watering deeply give it a good acidic mulch. Bark mulch is perfect for this purpose. 



We give Magnolia the best chance if we plant it in Spring or late Autumn. Patience is a virtue though as a young newly planted magnolia may need a couple of years before it flowers well. However, I promise you it is well worth the wait. 


Magnolia Flowers In The Home. 

Each Spring I pick a few whole blooms or take the fallen petals and place them in a large bowl of water. This makes a pretty display. The petals are quite thick and sturdy so are easy to handle and float in the water. sometimes I also place whole flowers in the water to float which is a beautiful display. 



Simply replace the petals every few days or if they start to go brown to keep the display fresh.

It really is a gorgeous way of having Magnolia flowers inside our homes to enjoy all day and evening. 

Spring really is showtime for the Magnolia but it is a beautiful and majestic tree all year round. 

I absolutely love Magnolias, they always lift my spirits after winter and I look forward to seeing their beautiful and exquisite flowers each and every year. 


 

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16 comments:

  1. Wonderful and informative review. Thanks. I have never grown a Magnolia but I sure love photographing their blossoms.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Mary, Yes I agree the blossoms are beautiful on Magnolias and your photos are gorgeous !

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  2. Welcome back Raintree Annie. Delightful to see the return of your knowledgeable gardening articles. I lived in Savannah, Georgia for many years and the Magnolia trees there are magnificent. It is interesting to read more about Magnolias and how they grow and flourish.

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    1. Thank you, it is good to be back! Yes I believe the Magnolias in Savannah are very beautiful. They grow well here in UK too. There are many colours and varieties to suit various locations.

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  3. A very interesting article Magnolia trees are very beautiful and come in a dwarf or smaller variety I believe.

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    1. Thank you, I totally agree Magnolias are beautiful! Yes there are varieties that are smaller. Just to mention two possibilities, Magnolia Stellata at 10 foot tall when mature, with its white star like flowers is one of the best for a small garden. Or Magnolia laevifolia Gails Favourite is lovely and reaches only about 6-7 feet high.

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  4. I have multiple magnolias in my backyard and I love them all! One of my favorites is the Little Gem Magnolia which has white blooms that look like the Southern Magnolia tree but the Little Gem doesn't get any where near as big as the Southern Magnolia. Each member of our family has a favorite that we planted when we first bought our home. We all love the "tulip" magnolia trees which make our backyard our own personal paradise in the spring. We also have mostly clay soil and the magnolias seem to thrive here.

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    Replies
    1. Wow your garden must look so stunning in the spring when all your Magnolias bloom! I love the idea of each member of your family planting a magnolia, that is so lovely and special. You have beautiful varieties of Magnolia.

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  5. I also meant to say, your magnolia is indeed magnificent!

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  6. Jasmine, it is so wonderful to have you back at Review This Reviews! You and your excellent posts have been greatly missed during your leave of absence. This post about growing magnolia trees is another example of why your writings are so valuable! This post, like all of yours, is informative, educational, actionable, well researched, and based on your wealth of personal knowledge and experience about successful gardening. Your magnolia is magnificent and I am so glad that you are thinking ahead and starting some younger magnolias that you will be able to take with you when you are ready to move to a new home. Your photographs are also gorgeous. I’m very tempted by that that blue throw pillow!

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    1. Oh Thank you so much for your very kind words Margaret, I appreciate it and it is good to be back :) Yes it will be a wrench to leave our gorgeous Magnolia behind when we do leave this house in a few years but we have lots of photos and are raising the two young Magnolias, which are smaller types, to plant in our next place. I am glad you enjoy the photos and I am happy that you like the Magnolia pillow :)

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  7. Magnolias are truly magnificent trees. We had a Star Magnolia in our yard and I was amazed that when we pruned it, the wood of the tree has such a beautiful fragrance as well. I loved our tree and now my son gets to enjoy it as well. Thanks Raintree Annie for all your helpful hints and tips!

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    1. Oh that is so lovely for the Star Magnolia tree to have such fragrance! It is one of the small ones I bought and am growing on in a pot to take with me. It is lovely that you enjoyed your magnolia and now your son gets to enjoy it as well. When we plant a tree we plant it for generations.

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  8. I love your magnolia pillow, that's gorgeous! We lived on street that was tree-lined on both sides with magnolia's - when they were in bloom the street was like walking through heaven! Magnolia trees are spectacular!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Barbara I love that magnolia pillow too and appreciate your kind words :) Oh that would have been lovely to walk down a Magnolia tree lined street! It must be so beautiful!!

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