Some of the aristocrats of the gardening world are the magnolias. They are an ancient group. Many of the new hybrids are outstanding improvements of the more familiar old selections, but remain relatively unknown. All like good drainage, rich soil with ample humus, ample watering, and shelter from wind when they are blooming. Early light training will insure a strong structural framework to support the canopy of the mature tree. Flowers come in many colors and sizes now. Anything from whites, pinks, purples, and mixes of these colors to reddish tones, and yellows, some even have blue or green tones. Petals are correctly called ‘Tepals’ and can vary in number and size as well as shape. Long narrow ones give the flowers a star like look to the blooms and are grouped together and known as ‘star’ magnolias. Others are chalice, tulip, or goblet shaped, even lily like and offer the largest in flower size.
Size of blooms can be as small as a couple inches to over 1 ft, some largest forms are up to 1 1/2 ft across, and that is pretty big for a flower! There is also fragrance to many of the varieties. Size of mature plants ranges from shrubs to 6-8 ft up to trees over 100 ft. They are long lived and usually pest and disease free.
There are evergreen and deciduous types as well.
The newer selections tend to be superior in qualities over their older counterparts. You can get large flowers in profusion, better colors, better growth habits, etc.
Some particular favorites:
Apollo is glowing violet purple, large flowers are star like in profile and blooming is profuse. perhaps 10″ blooms
Atlas is huge, white blushed purplish pink at the base on the outside of the tepals and sizes up to 14″ come with this variety.
Athene is a bloom of exceptional quality. cup and saucer shaped blooms (outer tepals open widely to form a saucer while inner tepals stand upright and form the cup) White blushed pinkish purple at the base, profuse, young bloomer
Iolanthe is huge, purplish pink blooms well over 10″ and egg sized buds
Vulcan is a brilliant star performer. Ruby red purple cup and saucer blooms give a flamboyant display. Huge 10″ + blossoms are profuse.
David Clulow is one of the best white magnolias obtainable.
Tina Durio is another great white, larger flowered and profuse
Manchu Fan is not as big as some, but there is a refined quality to the blooms, white and profuse.
Sayonara is similar in quality, white also
Felicity is a nice reddish purple, young bloomer and profuse
more to come later.