Magnolia

July 2015 Talk by Carole Lea

Magnolias are one of the most beautiful plants that can be grown in our gardens. They are one of the most primitive flowering plants and fossils of them can be found dating back 65 million years. This was before bees evolved so most Magnolias are pollinated by wingless beetles. They were named by Carl Linnaeus after Pierre Magnol an early French botanist. We normally grow two types of Magnolia. The deciduous yulan group are precocious in that the flowers develop before the leaves. The white Magnolia is Magnolia Denudata and other common varieties are Magnolia Soulangiana and one known as 'Starwars'. New hybrids are being created by Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and others including 'Elizabeth' that is a late flowering yellow variety. The other common Magnolia is the evergreen 'Little Gem ' which comes from the giant Bull Bay Magnolias of the USA. Plant Magnolias in a wide shallow hole out of the wind and water regularly particularly while young. Mulch and fertilise twice a year. Have patience as they can be slow to develop. If you want to prune a magnolia to improve its shape tie a ribbon round the branches you want to remove while the tree is bare and you can see the shape. Leave and cut off after flowering.
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