Simply Magnificent! Magnolias are a very ancient genus with fossilized remains showing their presence on earth even before the honey bee arrived. As a result of this you will find that Magnolias are usually pollinated by some form of beetle. The genus was not actually called Magnolia until the 17th century when they were named after a French professor of Botany called Pierre Magnol. Deciduous Magnolias are from Asia and evergreen Magnolias are mostly from America.
These days a strong influence on the development of the genus comes not from France, Asia or America but New Zealand. The Jury family from Taranaki and Oswald Blumhardt from Northland have raised many highly desirable hybrids and introduced them to the world. If you want to plant a New Zealand bred deciduous Magnolia look for such delights as "Athene", "Atlas", "Iolanthe", "Vulcan" and "Star Wars" to name just a few.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
Once you have chosen a Magnolia or 3 then this is one tree that must have the correct planting position. This is important for many reasons, not the least being that they resent being moved. The trees do not have a tap root but their fibrous roots are sensitive to disturbance. Do your best to choose a sunny position away from strong cold winds. Magnolias can tolerate frost, however a late frost in spring could damage the emerging flower buds.
The soil must be free draining and if possible rich with organic matter. If your soil is poor, add some compost, rotted leaf mould or peat and mix in well. As with many trees with fibrous roots, Magnolias don';;;;;t like their surface roots getting too hot so they will thank you for a nice layer of mulch aplied just before summer. They are acid lovers, so a side dressing of acid fertilizer aplied in early spring will also keep them hapy. You can buy especially formulated acid fertilizer from any good garden centre. Never aply lime. Water well during dry periods.
Magnolias need space to grow to really show off their beauty so consider this when planting. Little pruning should be required other than to maintain a nice shape.
Now sit back and wait for spring when the bare branches of deciduous Magnolias will be covered with beautiful large goblets with a tantalizing perfume. The colour choice ranges from crisp white, softest to deepest pink, ruby red, wine red and warm yellow.
Evergreen Magnolias have large scented cream flowers that apear in summer and autumn. In contrast to the above they are far more tolerant of wind and can cope with more moisture in the soil. Whilst I adore the deciduous Magnolias I respect the evergreen cultivars and would not be without them in the garden. The large dark green glossy foliage with tactile russet under-felt always looks good. Top that off with beautiful waxy cream flowers with a fresh fruity fragrance and you have a very handsome specimen tree. Definitely on my top 10 list.
Magnolias should not be overlooked in any planting scheme; I certainly would not consider creating a garden without them.