There is an exquisite quality about the diminutive Asian magnolias. They lack the impact and stature of the American magnolias but compensate with refinement and proportion. Most of these magnolias grow 15 to 25 feet tall, occasionally taller, and typically take on a nice oval-upright form early on. One that is at the smaller end of the size range is Siebold's magnolia, or Magnolia sieboldii, also known as Oyama magnolia. This native of China, Japan, and Korea only reaches 10 to 15 feet at maturity with a similar width, making it suitable for most urban gardens and courtyards. But it is also a superb plant for the woodland edge as its native habitat is beneath the forest canopy. Like all magnolias it has splendid flowers and these are produced through May and June, with an odd blossom later in the summer. But unlike many magnolias which produce upright or chalice shaped blossoms, the flowers on Siebold's magnolia are gracefully nodding. They emerge from egg-shaped buds which, upon opening, reveal deep-red stamens, which are all the more stunning against the immaculate white petals, and they're fragrant. And in addition to bloom, Siebold's magnolia produces oval fruits which turn carmine in autumn and are quite eye-catching when framed by the yellow autumn foliage.

This gem of the Oriental magnolias thrives in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil and part shade. It does not tolerate poor soil or drought. Siebold's magnolia is suited to all but the warmest or coldest parts of the US. It does very well in the UK and New Zealand and the cooler parts of Australia.


Oyama magnolia

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