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Deciduous Magnolias

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April 3, 2019

Some are amazed when they find out there are other magnolias besides the Southern Magnolia today on Southern Gardening. 

The magnolias that surprise people are the deciduous varieties that can surprise in the spring with their beautiful flowers and fragrance.  Star magnolia is one of the earliest to bloom in the spring.  It is a small tree that looks very shrub-like.  The flowers are primarily white of pink tinged.  The narrow looking petals are actually called tepals.  The flowers can be up to 4 inches in diameter.  It is common for the flowers to start opening with a few warm spring days only to be damaged by frost.  Even with the frost risk, this is a small tree to have in the landscape.  Saucer magnolia is by far the most popular of the flowering magnolias.  It flowers in the middle of spring, past the risk of late frosts.  The flowers are huge.  They can be up to ten inches across.  The colors will vary from white to pink to a bold purple depending on the variety.  There are many selections and cultivars to choose from and the decision may be hard to make.  Cucumber magnolia is a late blooming magnolia.  The flowers are green yellow for the native and very pretty yellows with some of the selections.  This can be a big tree, up to forty feet tall.  The name comes from the way the seed pod looks, like small cucumbers.  Plant these magnolias in full sun with good soil drainage for the best flowering performance.  The planting hole should be wider than you may usually dig. 

Magnolias are choices for low maintenance, easy to care for plants.  I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening. 

Department: Coastal Research & Extension Center

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