A magnolia tree or shrub in full bloom is, quite simply, one of the most spectacular garden sights you’ll ever see. Most flower early in the year, and the sight of their fabulous flowers – either proud goblets or spangly stars – on naked branches never fail to draw gasps of admiration. Great for beds and borders, or as fantastic specimens, there surely should be a place in every garden for a magical magnolia. Yes the buds can be susceptible to frost, but with the possibility of such a breathtakingly beautiful display, we think you’ll agree that they’re well worth the risk!
We’re sharing our favourites below, together with all the tips and information you need to make magnolias a success in your garden.
Magnolia White Pink
It is the white pink varieties and their goblet-shaped flowers which surely provide the most iconic of magnolia images. Starting with a delicate pink colour at the base, the petals of each bloom fade almost to white at their tips – and when they adorn the branches in mid-Spring, they are a truly stunning sight.
They prefer acidic soil, so you may need to consider adding ericaceous compost to your planting hole, and they are happy in full sun to partial shade.
They are particularly good varieties for smaller gardens, as they become shapely shrubs for many years and, even when mature, are manageable small trees.
Magnolia Stellata ‘Waterlily’
This is a slow-growing, rounded, medium sized deciduous shrub which is also great for the smaller garden. It is happy in full sun or partial shade and isn’t fussy about soil, but it does appreciate a more sheltered position to enable it to provide the very best display.
The flowers are simply stunning – glorious, pure white and star-shaped, up to 5in across – when they appear on its naked branches from February to April.
Yellow-coloured magnolias are less common than their pink cousins and come in shades from pale apricot to rich butter – and make an interesting addition if you’ve already got a white pink variety, or you just fancy something, well, a little more exclusive!
Like the white pink varieties, they are hardy in the UK and their variable habit allows them to be grown in gardens of all sizes – which makes them extremely flexible. The earliest varieties flower in March, some flower as late as May (when the flowers are accompanied by fresh foliage), however most varieties flower in April.
Magnolia Loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’
‘Leonard Messel’ makes a beautiful, rounded small tree or large shrub and is a truly elegant choice for the smaller garden. In April its rose pink, star-shaped flowers emerge from darker pink buds to smother its bare branches.
Happy in full sun or partial shade, it is fully hardy, although it will be better in a sheltered spot – and whilst it isn’t fussy about soil, it will appreciate plenty of ericaceous compost being added to the hole at planting time.
Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’
One of the darkest flowering of all the magnolias, ‘Black Tulip’ in full flower is, quite simply, a gorgeous sight. As its name suggests, the flowers are tulip-like in shape, grow up to 6in diameter and are a wonderful shade of deep burgundy-purple. Another deciduous variety, the flowers crowd the bare stems from as early as March through to May – and, as the flowers are less ‘loose’ than other magnolias, the blooms are more wind-tolerant too, although it’s still best to plant in a position which provides shelter from strong winds if possible.
It has a neat, upright habit and grows steadily to form a wonderful large shrub up to 20ft x 15ft – and under-planted with an array of Spring-flowering bulbs provides a truly jaw-dropping display that will be the envy of the neighbourhood.
Our Top Magnolia Tips
- Where possible, plant your magnolia in full sun to enjoy the best growth and most prolific flowering.
- Magnolias will tolerate any fertile, most garden soil that is not dry or alkaline, although it never hurts to add a generous amount of ericaceous compost at planting time.
- A sheltered site really is the ideal location, as this way you’ll provide protection from cold, drying winds – which have a habit of whipping away the delicate flowers far too soon – and therefore you’ll get to enjoy your magnificent display for longer.
- Magnolias seldom need pruning, and some even consider that any pruning simply ruins their glorious shape. If you do need to remove deadwood, then make sure you do this between mid-Summer to early Autumn, as cuts made in late Winter or early Spring will ‘bleed’.
- Magnolias are not easy to strike from cuttings, so layering shoots near ground level is the easiest method of propagation.
- And if you’d like a magnolia but aren’t sure where to place it, then remember that they’ll also work in pots and containers – just make sure they have enough space, enough food and enough water to keep them happy.
So now you have all the information you need to make a magnolia happy in your garden, come and check out the wonderful varieties we have available!