2017

 
 

Japanese magnolia, Saucer magnolia, or Magnolia × soulangeana, is an old cultivar that was initially bred by French plantsman Étienne Soulange-Bodin (1774–1846), when he crossed Magnolia denudata with Magnolia liliiflora in 1820 at Château de Fromont near Paris. And to the present time it remains one of the most popular magnolias grown, especially in the southern US and in the UK. This long-standing popularity is based on solid assets. It is a multi-stemmed, spreading tree with a graceful, vase-shaped elegance. Its size, usually about 25 feet tall and 25 feet wide, is small enough that most gardens can accommodate it and it has attractive gray bark. Growth rate is moderately fast when young but slows with age, after about 20 years. The flower buds appear in late autumn and winter and are borne at branch tip making a very prominent display. And Japanese magnolia is one of the first trees to bloom in the year when, in late winter, the flowers open before the leaves. These narrow goblet shaped blooms are six-petaled, white shaded to pink and create a stunning display. In full open, they may be as much as 6 inches across, and possess an arresting fragrance that will perfume the entire garden. Regrettably, when they are grown at the northern end of their range, the bloom can be ruined by late frosts but in mild winter regions the floral show is usually safe. And the show is not over in Spring. This sprawling tree casts a nice shade for summer. The leaves are large, as much as 8 inches by 4 inches, and are an attractive emerald green and turn a good clear yellow in autumn.

Japanese magnolia does not like droughts or alkaline soil. It does best with some afternoon shade, in a moist, acidic, well drained soil. In addition to the US and the UK, it does well in Australia and New Zealand.

Also look at one of the parents of this tree, the lovely Yulan magnolia, or Magnolia denudata.

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Japanese magnolia

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