Types of Magnolia Trees
Magnolias are a large and varied group of trees and shrubs. They vary greatly in height from small shrubs to taller trees. With a range of evergreen and deciduous varieties that can flower in a multitude of colours, there is a variety suited to almost any garden.
GROWING MAGNOLIAS TREES
This is a fairly easy group of plants to grow, but they do have certain things they do – and don’t – enjoy:
- Most Magnolias will do better with at least some sun, so a position with at least 5 hours of it is recommended, and full sun will usually allow the heaviest flowering
- Magnolias don’t like wet soil that drains poorly. This will cause roots to rot which can lead to plant death. If your soil is clay in texture, at planting add lots of organic matter like compost to improve drainage
- Generally Magnolias prefer soil that has an acidic/lower pH. Therefore avoid adding lime or mushroom compost around these plants
- Magnolias will do fine in pots and planter boxes; just use premium quality potting mix and ensure the container is adequate for the eventual size of the Magnolia
- Evergreen Magnolias particularly are heavy feeders. Give them an all purpose fertiliser in Spring and Autumn as you do other plants, but an extra feed in early Summer will promote a flush of new growth in the warm weather.
DECIDUOUS MAGNOLIA TREES
Losing their leaves in winter means this group of Magnolias is rarely used for screening, but they are a great option as a feature tree. Their ability to flower spectacularly in late winter when colour in the garden is scarce makes them a very valuable asset to your garden. Again the final size of these plants varies from 3m shrubs to 8m medium/tall trees, so you have many choices for a suitable specimen.
Let’s take a look at some of the best deciduous Magnolias:
Perhaps THE classic winter Magnolia, its trademark are the full, cup-shaped blooms that are magenta and pink on the outside with a white interior. Absolutely spectacular as a specimen tree, it will be the star of your garden in August/September. Grows to approximately 5m x 5m.
MAGNOLIA BLACK TULIP
This more recent introduction has quickly become one of the most popular varieties. Its not hard to see why: its knockout purple tulip-shaped blooms -that can get as large as 15cm across- cover the tree and are an exquisite sight. A medium grower to about 3.5m.
Another classic, this is the unique white winter Magnolia. Its pristine white blooms just glow on a clear winter day- enough to draw you outside no matter how cold it is! Unusually for a deciduous one, this Magnolia has a crisp lemon fragrance as a bonus feature. Denudata is a taller grower, reaching 6-8m.
Characterised by its huge magenta flowers, in full bloom a Vulcan tree is staggeringly beautiful. Those blooms can be 25cm across – yes, you read that right! It makes a stunning centre feature in a garden bed, underplanted with smaller shrubs and perennials. Its very large, rounded leaves gives it interest in the garden even while not flowering. Grows to 4.5m high.
The closest you will get to a yellow winter Magnolia. The lemony, goblet-shaped flowers have a gentle perfume. The copper red tonings of the new leaf growth are another point of interest in this beautiful upright tree reaching 3x5m.
EVERGREEN MAGNOLIA TREES
Because they keep their leaves the evergreen varieties are a beautiful option to provide privacy. The evergreens are generally a little hardier to hot, dry conditions too. Most of them are white flowered, but the height range available is quite wide. Also beautiful container plants.
And now some of the best evergreen varieties:
MAGNOLIA LITTLE GEM
Probably the best known of the evergreens, this versatile variety is known for its glossy green leaves and large fragrant white flowers through the warmer months. Growing to 4 metres, this small tree can be used as a hedge, a feature tree in the garden or as a beautiful flowering specimen in a pot.
MAGNOLIA WHITE CAVIAR
Getting very popular due to its softer foliage, this variety has creamy flowers in spring that are sweetly scented. Despite its soft, delicate appearance White Caviar withstands our hot summers surprisingly well. Great as a medium hedge between 2-4m (looks great around pools!) or a feature plant in containers.
MAGNOLIA COOLWYN GLOSS
At 5-6m tall, this is a great option when you need a screening plant just a little bit taller. With larger leaves than its cousin Little Gem, the bold glossy foliage is a feature in its own right. Then the huge fragrant flowers over a long season are the icing on the cake! We sell a lot of these for use as a screen or even informal hedge.
The Magnolia that has attained almost mythical status! This small tree just exudes a lush, opulent feel into any garden. The large lime green foliage is great for giving any space a tropical air. Then the magnificent, narrow-petalled flowers start doing their thing. Oh, the perfume!
The Port Wine Magnolia is one of the very few that can grow in a shady position. Also, it is probably the shortest member of the family, only reaching 2m. The small shiny foliage is very attractive in its own right, with the purple spring flowers having a delightful fruity perfume. Great in shady garden beds, or as a pot feature on covered patios.
MAGNOLIA TEDDY BEAR
Another classic option, Teddy Bear is very popular as a screening plant due to its compact habit (4m x 2m). Its rounded dark green leaves are very attractive, and its perfumed white flowers appear from late spring through to early autumn.
This is our tallest growing evergreen Magnolia – to 8m. Again, dark glossy leaves and a succession of lemon scented blooms over the warmer months. Very useful as a screen to double story buildings or just a taller feature tree.