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Magnificent magnolias: the darling of the spring garden

Although the winter has us firmly in its grip, it heartening to know that before long the magnificent magnolia will once again grace us with its majestic flowers. Magnolias are one of Ladybrook Nursery’s favourite large shrubs/trees. They are valued around the world for both their flowers and their form. Grown as large shrubs or trees, they produce showy, goblet or star-shaped, fragrant flowers that can be white, pink, red, purple or yellow. Deciduous magnolias usually flower in spring before the leaves emerge; evergreen magnolias flower in flushes from summer until early autumn

Magnolia care

Most magnolias grow best in moist, well-drained, slightly acid soils, however, they can also fare well in neutral to slightly alkaline soils.  Magnolias are adaptable to most soil types – clay, loam or sandy soils – but most will grow poorly in wet or poorly drained soils. Well-established plants can be moderately drought tolerant. Magnolias thrive in gardens that receive full sun to light shade. If possible, magnolias should not be exposed to strong winds as these can damage large flowers and the typically brittle branches.

If you’re looking to plant a magnolia in your garden this year, then here are 4 recommendations from Ladybrook Nursery:

Magnolia ‘soulangeana’


Magnolia ‘soulangeana’ or the saucer magnolia is possibly the most popular and most widely-grown Magnolia tree. It boasts an abundant display of vibrant pink-purple flowers with white, inner petals. This early flowering Magnolia tree creates a stunning garden feature with a full, rounded crown, blossoming from March onwards.

Tree – spreading

Height: 6m

Foliage: green – deciduous

Flower colour: white pink or purple goblet-shaped

Flowering: spring

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Magnolia ‘stellata’


Magnolia ‘stellata’ produces a mass of bright white star-shaped, fragrant flowers, opening from silky buds quite early in spring from March-April. The foliage is bright green and glossy, occasionally turning an attractive bronze tint in the summer. This white magnolia is ideal for the small garden and is also suitable for growing in pots. 

Tree – compact

Height: 3m

Foliage: green – deciduous

Flower colour: pure white, star-shaped

Flowering: spring

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Magnolia Kobus

This deciduous tree can grow up to 40 feet tall and blooms in early spring with a profusion of white-tinged pink goblet to saucer-shaped blossoms that are 3 to 4 inches wide. Best grown in moist, well-drained and preferably acidic to neutral soil. Magnolia ‘kobus’ prefers sun or partial shade. Magnolia ‘kobus’ is a fairly hardy plant, but flower buds can be susceptible to late-season frosts.

Tree

Height: 10m

Foliage: green – deciduous

Flower colour: white fragrant followed by pink fruits

Flowering: spring

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Magnolia ‘merrill’

Magnolia ‘merrill’ is a small, but vigorous-growing deciduous tree/large shrub, grown for its profusion of large, white, star-like fragrant flowers on bare stems in spring. Blooms at an early age. It’s a good cultivar which can be grown either as a shrub or a small tree and would be a very attractive addition to any shrub border.

Tree/ large shrub

Height: 8m

Foliage: green – deciduous

Flower colour: white abundant

Flowering: spring

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

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