Heralding the coming of spring, Magnolias, especially the deciduous varieties hold a special place in the hearts of many a gardener with their stunning displays of large, fragrant blooms on elegant naked branches. Originating in Asia there are over 100 species and unnumbered cultivars. They are well adapted to Australian conditions and provided you give them a good position and adequate food and water they will reward you for many years.
Magnolias can be a little sulky for the first few years so feed them well when you first plant them with a good compost, build a well around the base of the trunk to direct water into the root zone and mulch well to keep the roots moist and cool. Choose a north or east facing position with shelter from hot winds and frost.
Here are 10 of our favorites with a brief description and their height and width noted so you can make a good choice for your site:
Magnolia x soulangeana cv. 3m X 3m; one of the old varieties and the basis of many cultivars Magnolia x soulangeana is perhaps the most common Magnolia seen in Melbourne gardens.
Magnolia stellata 1.5m X 1.5m; a slow-growing medium-sized deciduous shrub of broadly rounded habit, flowering in early spring. This Magnolia is particularly stunning because of it fine white petals. It also comes in a pink variety Magnolia stellate rosea.
Magnolia ‘Caerhays Belle’ 7m X 5m; a very narrow, fastigiate shape, excellent for a small garden because it needs almost no pruning and has a beautiful fragrance.
Magnolia ‘Phillip Tregunna’ 5m X 3m; an upright tree, with a vivid purple flower and a beautiful fragrance.
Magnolia ‘Ruby’ 3m X 2m; a beauty because of the beautiful, exquisite shape of the bud and also a white edge around each of the petals. Does well in a smaller garden and can be pruned to shape.
Magnolia ‘Vulcan‘ 3m X 2m; a hybrid raised in New Zealand. The flowers are large, wine red and lightly perfumed.
Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ 4m X 2.5m; with perfumed primrose yellow fading to cream coloured flowers. It is later flowering than other magnolia varieties blossoming in late spring.
Magnolia ‘Royal Purple’ 3.5m X 1.2m; a beautiful new magnolia from New Zealand; a narrow yet stunning column with 20cm cup and saucer shaped blooms, dark red purple with a gorgeous perfume. A great choice for a small space.
Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ 5m X 2.5m; a very popular plant used as an ornamental lawn tree or as for screening and even hedging. It is an outstanding variety of Magnolia grandiflora with a compact habit, deep green discolourous leaves and large white blooms.
Magnolia ‘St Mary’ 6m X 3m: A wider growing variety with large glossy apple green leaves. It is a hardy and versatile plant that will tolerate a range of conditions and is relatively pest and disease free. During the warmer months it produces beautiful, creamy-white, fragrant flowers and will flower from an early age.