Evergreen magnolia (Magnolia grandifolia) is a tall, spreading tree much loved for its dark green leaves and huge, white, cup-shaped, fragrant flowers, which have a lemony fragrance. Individual flowers can be 20cm across. The tree flowers for much of the year with a peak in summer.
These trees are a feature of many park and street plantings but in recent decades have also become popular as garden and hedge trees with the release of smaller, more compact varieties including ‘Little Gem’, ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Exmouth’.
As trees can reach 7-15m high and 4-9m wide, they need to be planted with plenty of room to spread in every direction. Plant well away from houses, neighbours and swimming pools. Well sited in a large garden, these evergreen magnolias provide welcome summer shade over an outdoor eating or play area as well as the enjoyment brought by their beautiful and fragrant flowers.
For a hedge or specimen plant in a small garden look for a named dwarf variety. Check out your hardware or garden centre for advice and varieties that suit your areas. Here are a few to get your thinking;:
‘Exmouth’ grows 12m x 5m (but can be pruned and shaped). It is a beautiful specimen tree with a compact upright form and white flowers in summer and autumn.
‘Kay Paris’ has a very compact, upright, densely branched habit which will grow 3.5m high and 2m wide. It has glossy dark green leaves with a wavy margin and has striking coppery velvet undersides and gorgeous hot pink new growth tips.
‘Little Gem’ grows 6mx3m (can be pruned to 2-3m high) and has glossy green leaves with a brown underside, It produces large creamy, white flowers in spring and summer.
‘Teddy Bear’ a compact feature tree that grows 5m x 4m (can be pruned to shape) and has glossy green leaves with a brown underside. It produces large creamy, white flowers in spring and summer.
Aspect Evergreen magnolia need a bright, sunny location. Young trees are frost tender and need protection in frost-prone areas until at least 2m high. In very cold zones, plant in a warm microclimate that’s protected from cold winds and frost.
Soil These trees grow in a wide range of soils with reliable moisture but good drainage. They prefer a slightly acidic soil. Before planting add home-made compost and organic matter and/or Seasol Super Compost. In areas with alkaline soil, grow magnolias in large containers with a Premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix.
Climate Although native to warm humid zones in the southern US where they prefer tropical and subtropical warm climates, they tolerate all but the coldest climates.