High summer and warm temperatures bring forth the astonishingly beautiful pure white flowers of Magnolia grandiflora. This is the evergreen magnolia that is native to the southern United States. It is the only evergreen species of magnolia grown in our area , but comes in several varieties. All possess the huge white flowers, but varieties vary in overall size, leaf shape and growth habits. Theyare all incredibly fragrant, with a light lemony scent that is not overwhelming. It is a transcendant experience to stick your face into one of these enormous flowers and close your eyes……
Magnolias are very ancient plants, somehow surviving while many other plants became extinct. They are virtually disease and pest free. The evergreen magnolias evolved in an area with infrequent (or non-existant) snowfalls. They don’t handle heavy snow loads on their branches very well….. you must shake it off or they will break ! In the Pacific Northwest, our snow is usually very wet and heavy and is catastrophic to these trees if left in place. Hello sleepless nights ! Magnolia grandiflora grows and flowers best in full sun. It will grow in shade, but will be ‘looser’ and flower less, if at all. I have seen these trees espelliared against walls (in England), where they receive extra shelter in winter and a summer baking that they love.
Some of the varieties we sell include :
A dwarf variety, with all aspects and habits of the regular types only at about 1/2 the size. Flowering is very heavy, with 6″-8″ flowers produced on most branch tips in July and August. My own experience with this plant is that needs a warmer spot and guaranteed shelter in winter. Full sun is a must. Growth is twiggy, bushy and never over 20′, usually less.
One of the very best varieties. The reverse side of the foliage is a rich rusty brown, being covered in a soft, suede-like ‘indumentum’, or fuzz. The flowers are 12″ across, strongly fragrant and produced randomly all summer. Eventual height is said to be 50′, but in our area I would say more like 30′ in a lifetime.
Bracken’s Brown Beauty
A compact grower, with tighter foliage with a bold cinnamon brown undersides. Abundant flowers are only 5″-6″ across and produced all summer. These smaller types are better suited to big pots on decks etc if placed in a sheltered spot. Extra cut branches make stunning wreaths !
I have noticed that this variety is very gangly when young. It seems to be very popular though. Perhaps because it is so fast growing- (2′-3′ per season), even in a pot. The flowers are very large and so are the leaves. Old (last years’) foliage turns bright yellow on all varieties, and falls off constantly. This is messy ! But the beauty of these plants outweighs this one drawback and more than compensates for any cleanup needed.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’