Magnolia Stellata Popular for a Small Garden
Common name: none
One has just to see magnolias in full bloom to appreciate that they are truly among the most beautiful of all shrubs. Ancestors of the magnolias we grow today lived on earth during the Cretaceous period, making them some of the first flowering plants.
Of the garden forms of this large group of flowering trees and shrubs, two members in particular add a great deal to the scene in spring. Magnolia stellate (AGM) produces white, star-shaped blooms, and another great favourite, Magnolia x. soulangeana, has large, goblet-shaped.
Popular species and varieties
One of the best species for the smaller garden is the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) (AGM). It is a slow-growing, rounded shrub that seldom exceeds 3m (10ft) in height. In mid-spring the hairy buds open to reveal the pure white, numerous-petalled flowers. It is no stranger to our gardens, having been introduced from Japan in 1862. There are a number of selected cultivars available, among which is ‘Waterlily’ (AGM), with broad petals, and the free-flowering ‘Royal Star’.
Another great favourite, Magnolia x soulangeana, is a hybrid of Magnolia denudata and Magnolia lilliflora, originating from France in 1820, and now found in gardens worldwide. It is among the easiest to grow, being very hardy. Position with care as it will grow into a tree-like structure, covering itself with pale to deep pink, goblet-shaped blooms in early spring. There are many cultivars, ranging from pure white to a rich deep purple; all have a slight fragrance. Flowers appear before the leaves,
There are also many hybrid magnolias available, such as ‘Vulcan’, a brilliant ruby-red raised in New Zealand. The bright pink ‘Star Wars’ is another good choice.
Soil type Good, fertile soils are preferred. Check before purchase, as some magnolias do not like alkaline soils.
Planting This is best carried out in spring. Magnolias are happy in sun or light shade, Choose a spot where they are not subjected to cold winds.
Pruning Any unwanted shoots or branches should be removed after flowering.
Propagation Layer in late winter or early spring. It will usually take two years before rooting takes place. Alternatively, try taking 10cm (4in) long cuttings of half-ripened shoots with a heel, in early summer. Magnolias are difficult to root.
Pests and diseases It is most unlikely that pests will be a problem. However, frost can damage buds, causing them to turn brown, and buds can sometimes be attacked by grey- mould fungus disease.