It is only early February but with a mild couple of weeks in January all the Spring flowering plants and trees are already shifting to Spring growth, the Magnolia buds are swelling, their downy exterior is showing promise of what lays inside.
Magnolias are some of the oldest specimens of our flowering trees and they stay the same today as they did thousands of years ago in Asia and then making their way to Europe in more recent years, these beautiful shrubs and trees are one of the early signs of Spring and their early development is one of the first signs in the garden.
Magnolia Susan and Soulangeana are beautiful classic varieties and deserve their recognition as they are stalwarts of the Magnolia genus with their large tulip shaped blooms while Magnolia stellata is the more featherier type flower also sometimes called the star Magnolia although just as beautiful a bloom and more often more of them.
Magnolia Leonard Messel has flowers of dark sugary pink on the outside with a paler pink inside. They are spicily scented and more than happy in an exposed position. Though most magnolias prefer a soil on the acid side of neutral, it has the ability to adapt to a limey soil. Magnolia Galaxy looks splendid when it produces stunning, purple-pink to red, tulip-shaped flowers, which are lightly scented. Magnolia Heavenly Scent is exactly that, it’s a lovely magnolia tree with goblet or tulip shaped, large flowers in April-May that are highly fragrant with pale pink outside, fading to white inside. The softly coloured, spring flowers contrast wonderfully with the dark green foliage. Its upright habit looks great in a multi-stemmed form that actually resembles more of a conical shape.
We do have something for everyone and if you prefer your trees and shrubs evergreen then we have just the Magnolia for you; Magnolia Grandiflora is the Evergreen Magnolia and its foliage is quite different from the deciduous options above, it has a much larger waxier leaf with a rusty coloured downy underside, it grows, like the Heavenly Scent in a naturally conical shape and has the most amazingly huge creamy white globular blooms, not many now unless we have a belter of a summer but the quantity is outweighed by the magnificence of the few flowers it does have, being evergreen they are more expensive than the deciduous varieties but if evergreen is your thing or these flowers that flower later, into the summer catch your eye then we have just the Magnolia for you!
Magnolia trees require little care and are resistant to most diseases and pests. They are long lived with life spans of 100 years or more given the right growing conditions.
Most varieties tolerate hot summers (not that we get many of those in Ireland) and moderate drought (likewise!), they also are a resilient choice for gardens in cooler and inclement climates. Younger trees should be watered regularly until fully established and will always do better in drier spring and summers if watered when necessary.
Magnolias typically need very little pruning other than to remove damaged branches or for aesthetic reasons. The best time for pruning is soon after the tree has finished blooming, in either late spring or early summer. Pruning too late in the season will result in fewer blossoms the following spring.
If your magnolia is growing and flowering well, there is no need to fertilise. However, if your tree isn’t thriving or has yellow leaves, you should have your soil tested. If you do need to fertilise, wait until the spring then apply a slow release fertiliser just as your tree starts to leaf out int he case of deciduous varieties.