The best of spring blooms: Asian magnolias

Few flowering trees are as magnificent in early spring as the Asian magnolias! Flowers emerge long before the leaves (anywhere from mid-February to late March depending on the weather), and many of them are quite fragrant. Most of the Asian species of Magnolias are large, upright shrubs or small trees, usually staying below 20’ at maturity (with the exception of Saucer magnolia, M. soulangiana, which eventually becomes a full sized shade tree). In return for their beautiful spring show, they do have some requirements to pay attention to when choosing one to plant in your yard or garden. They are very prone to flowering during an early spell of warm weather, only to be zapped by frost a few days later, though there are several hybrid cultivars that flower a little later in spring, thus generally avoiding damaging frosts. These are known as the “Little Girl” hybrids (look for cultivars with the names ‘Ann’, ‘Jane’, ‘Betty’, ‘Judy’, or ‘Susan’).  Magnolias do not like to be crowded up against other plants, performing much better in an open space with good air circulation in full sun. It’s also important to keep new plantings well watered the first year while they get established. Without further ado, here is a small sampling of Asian magnolias!

IMG_0482Magnolia acuminata ‘Butterflies’


Magnolia x ‘Jane’


Magnolia denudata

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