Splendid large Magnolia flowers are irresistible in spring, but don't overlook the many Magnolias that flower in late April, May, and beyond, avoiding late frosts and extending the season of bloom. Magnolias prosper in rich soil that is moist but well drained. Full sun or up to about 50% shade is fine. Unless otherwise stated, the Magnolias offered grow to small trees about 20 feet high and wide, somewhat greater with age.
Magnolia 'Apricot Brandy'
Multicolored flowers blend pink and yellow to form an overall peach color. From the late Phil Savage. (M. acuminata 'Fertile Myrtle' x M. sprengeri 'Diva'). Z. 5-9
Nicely branched plants, grown in 4-gallon pots.
Magnolia 'Coral Lake'
A unique color in magnolias: Coral Pink! Not just a simple color, but a complex blend of coral and yellow and pink. The inner petals are primarily pink shades, but the outer ones blend in vertical yellow striations, creating a shimmering effect. The late David Leach crossed two yellow magnolias, 'Legend' and 'Butterflies', intending to produce a new yellow magnolia, but he speculated to us a few years ago that a beetle must have infiltrated with pollen from another magnolia to produce this unexpected but felicitous result. 'Coral Lake' blooms prolifically, and flowers have a pleasant fragrance. It forms a small, semi-fastigiate tree, and flowers open late, avoiding most frosts. Z. 5-9
From the Arboretum Wespelaar in Belgium comes this new yellow magnolia, which they claim is one of the best if not the best yellow magnolia in their collection. 'Daphne' produces long-lasting, deep yellow, upright flowers at the ends of shoots well above the leaves. The habit is compact and it is smaller and yet more floriferous than other yellow magnolias in their collection. Although this selection was made in Belgium, the magnolia was actually raised from seed that they had received from American magnolia breeder, August Kehr. (M. acuminata 'Miss Honeybee' x M. 'Gold Crown'). Z. 5-9
Rich rose-pink flowers with a fine fragrance bloom so late that frost damage is nearly out of the question. Breeder Dr. August Kehr described the color as light Neyron rose, but this does not do justice to the shimmering effect that the several shades of rose-pink create. When first opening, the buds can even show a bit of green, which only adds to the allure. And all this happens in very late April and through much of May—truly something new in horticulture! After a lifetime of hybridizing magnolias, the late Dr. Kehr considered this great magnolia his finest creation, and, indeed, a plant blooming at one of our May Open Houses a couple years ago was the star of the show. PHS Gold Medal winner. (M. 'Woodsman' x M. 'Tina Durio'). Z. 5-9
Unusual bone-white flowers are stained with vivid magenta-pink at the base and carry a stripe of the same bright color right to the tips. Flowers are produced early in the season, well before the leaves emerge. 'Fireglow' grows upright with a single trunk and thick, leathery leaves. From the late Phil Savage. Z. 5-9
Brilliant unfading flamingo-pink flowers open just before leaves emerge on a pyramidal tree from the late Phil Savage. The flowers have a tulip shape which is retained until shattering. (M. acuminata 'Fertile Myrtle' x M. sprengeri 'Diva'.) Z. 5-9
Nicely branched plants, grown in 3-gallon pots.
Magnolia 'Frank's Masterpiece'
Hybridized by the late Dr. Frank Galyon, 'Frank's Masterpiece' is a strong-growing, upright magnolia. Flowers are 10-11 inches across and have unusually broad tepals colored deep red purple outside. Z. 5-9
A new dwarf magnolia, perfect for smaller gardens! 'Genie' reaches only 10-13 feet tall and produces in spring small tulip-shaped flowers of deep maroon-purple on both sides of the petals. Spring flower buds are also noteworthy, being a sensational black-red. Heaviest bloom takes place in early spring, but 'Genie' also produces slightly lighter-colored flowers in midsummer, which is when we shot our photo. This introduction from New Zealand is the result of years of breeding with the goal of producing a smaller-growing magnolia with richly colored flowers. PPAF. Z. 6-9
Magnolia 'Golden Gift'
During our visit with the late David Leach in 1997, he was eager to show us this new selection, which is the first yellow magnolia of smaller stature, reaching only 6 feet wide by 8 feet high in 10 years, perhaps twice as large at maturity. (Other yellow magnolias generally form a small tree.) Flowers are a strong yellow, and they are produced in multiple terminal buds and even axillary buds from the trunk all the way to the tips of the branches. A plant in bloom is a huge globe of yellow, and the flowers keep opening for about 4 weeks. A truly exciting introduction. Z. (4)5-9
Magnolia 'Hot Flash'
The late Dr. August Kehr rated this magnolia with deep yellow flowers as his best yellow magnolia. It is also very late flowering. Dr. Kehr was a USDA research scientist who devoted his life to improving magnolias, particularly in developing magnolias that bloom as late as possible before the leaves emerge in order to avoid late frosts. Although Dr. Kehr passed away in 2001 at the age of 87, his magnolias will continue to enrich our own as well as future generations. (M. 'Woodsman' x M. 'Elizabeth'). Z. 5-9
Huge, lightly branched plants, grown in 5-gallon pots.
The first yellow magnolia, 'Elizabeth', came from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and here is a further development based on 'Elizabeth'. 'Lois' is a newer yellow magnolia, noticeably darker than 'Elizabeth'. 'Lois' also blooms later than 'Elizabeth' but still before the leaves emerge. It grows as a vigorous, rounded tree to 20 feet or more. It also has a pretty rust-brown fall color. We are grateful to Dr. Lola Koerting, who made the original cross, for supplying scionwood to us. Formerly identified as Magnolia #11/60 (M. acuminata x M. #853 'Elizabeth' sibling). Z. 5-9
Magnolia 'March till Frost'
Another breakthrough in magnolia breeding from the late August Kehr. This hybrid starts to flower in spring and continues to flower with hardly a break until frost. Indeed, we visited Dr. Kehr one September and found this magnolia full of deep purple flowers. ([M. liliiflora x M. cylindrica] x M. 'Ruby'). Z. (5?)6-9
Magnolia 'Pink Royalty'
Highly double flowers have up to 16 tepals and are a rich coral-pink. A strong, fine fragrance adds to the appeal of this hardy selection from the late Phil Savage. Because of its exceptional hardiness, it's one of the best magnolias for the North. (M. acuminata 'Fertile Myrtle' x M. sprengeri 'Dark Diva'). Z. 4-9
Well-branched plants, grown in 5-gallon pots.
Magnolia 'Pink Surprise'
An extended bloom period lasting up to a month produces great flower power on this complex hybrid from Dennis Ledvina. Tiny buds during the winter are wonderfully hardy, but they open—and that's the surprise—to large, wide-tepaled, bright pink flowers. The flowering period is prolonged because of the many secondary flower buds, which open after the primary buds, giving a whole second wave of bloom. Z. 5-9
Magnolia 'Porcelain Dove'
A rare hybrid of the Asian Magnolia globosa with our native Sweetbay bred by Todd Gresham and named in allusion to his home, Hill of Doves, in California. 'Porcelain Dove' is a mostly deciduous small tree with heaviest bloom in June and additional flowers appearing throughout the summer. The 4-inch white flowers open in late afternoon to reveal a ring of rich red stamens, and the fragrance is surpassed by no other magnolia we know. Much hardier than expected, 'Porcelain Dove' survived undamaged and flowered normally after -22°F. in Pennsylvania. Plant this magnolia where you will linger on a June evening, savoring its heady perfume. Z. 5-9
Magnolia 'Purple Prince'
Rich Easter-purple color with black shadings make this magnolia one of our favorites. Inside tones are a bit lighter than on the outside of the flower. Flowers have the plump shape of the old 'Lennei', which adds to its appeal, and make their appearance in mid-April. Created by the late Dr. Frank Galyon of Knoxville, Tenn. (M. liliiflora 'Darkest Purple' x M. x soulangiana 'Lennei'). Z. 5-9
Specimen Plants, grown in 5-gallon pots. Limited quantity.
Magnolia 'Red Baron'
Large flowers in rich red with extended hardiness (for such a combination of size and color) are the draws on this new release from Dennis Ledvina. (M. acuminata x M. 'Big Dude'). Z. 5-9
Magnolia 'Rose Marie'
A color break in magnolias! Large flowers with broad tepals open wide displaying a brilliant rosy pink on the exterior, and this vivid color carries through to the interior in shades of medium pink. Flowering begins late, avoiding most frosts. The tree blooms at a young age and is particularly floriferous. We have Dennis Ledvina in Wisconsin to thank for this oustanding new introduction, and Dennis reports that bloom can continue for up to 6 weeks. Truly outstanding! (M. 'Pink Surprise' x M. 'Daybreak'). Z. 5-9
Large flowers with 6-7 rounded tepals create a sumptuous appearance on this hardy selection. The broad tepals are rich lavender pink on the outside and lighter pink inside. The glossy, wrinkled foliage is also distinctive. Z. 4-9
Magnolia 'Royal Splendor'
This stunning release from Dennis Ledvina has flowers of an intense reddish pink on the outside, the interior being a lighter pink. Dennis reports that its glowing color really stands out in the garden. It is also an unusually heavy bloomer with many lateral flower buds which provide a succession of bloom for as long as a month. (M. 'Pink Royalty' x M. 'Daybreak'). Z. 4-9
Magnolia 'Sun Spire'
One of the late Dr. August Kehr's last introductions, and he thought it was one of his best. Deep yellow flowers are produced on a small columnar tree with somewhat the shape of the old-fashioned Lombardy Poplar. To our knowledge, this is the first deciduous magnolia with this shape, which makes it useful for small gardens and even perhaps as a street tree. As with all of Dr. Kehr's yellow magnolias, bloom is late enough to avoid nearly all frosts. Z. 5-9
Magnolia 'Yellow Bird'
Brilliant yellow flowers with a greenish tinge at the base open with the leaves on this release from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Actually, it is also quite beautiful in the bud stage as the flower buds are held upright and are as much as 4 inches long and are colored rich yellow. The leaves are lush and very dark green. Flowering is late enough that frost damage is well nigh impossible. This easy-to-grow small tree also blooms while still young. Extra hardy, too. (M. acuminata x M. x brooklynensis 'Evamaria'). Z. 4-9
Magnolia virginiana 'Greenbay' - Sweetbay Magnolia
This pretty selection has wonderfully fragrant flowers, which are also reported to be among the largest flowers of all M. virginiana, and they open over an especially long period. This magnolia has a nice upright-oval habit of growth, and of particular interest, the leaves remain evergreen, even after -20°F. Selected by Tennessee nurseryman Don Shadow from seed received from the legendary Joe McDaniel. Z. 5-9
Magnolia virginiana var. australis 'Mardi Gras' - Variegated Southern Sweetbay Magnolia
Creamy golden swirls and speckles decorate the handsome tapered foliage of this selection. Unlike some other variegated plants, 'Mardi Gras' appears to grow as vigorously as the species, probably 15-20 feet high and wide in our area, larger in the South. As it is semi-evergreen, be sure to site it where it will be protected from winter winds and winter sun. Z. 6b-9
Magnolia virginiana var. australis 'Ned's Northern Belle' - Southern Sweetbay Magnolia
This introduction by Ned Rader in northern Ohio may well be the hardiest version of evergreen Southern Sweetbay to date. It has retained its leaves most the winter at temperatures well below zero and has been reported to survive nearly -30°F, though it will defoliate after such extreme cold. Wonderfully fragrant flowers, typical of Southern Sweetbay, are produced abundantly in May, and additional flowers appear off and on through the summer. It grows tall and narrow, and after 17 years it reached 25 feet tall with a spread of only 8-9 feet. Keeping in mind that no plant develops its full hardiness until it has a degree of maturity, it would be advisable to protect young plants with a burlap barrier at the colder end of its range. Z. 5-9
Magnolia x brooklynensis #204 Black Beauty
Yes, stunning near-black flowers, the darkest we have ever seen! More technically, the flowers are a very dark purple, the same shade as the "black" Tulips, and chalk-white interiors serve to highlight the dark exteriors. Better yet, flowers appear in late April and through much of May and have never been damaged by frost in our garden. Finally, M. x brooklynensis, a hybrid of M. acuminata and M. liliiflora is one of the hardiest garden hybrids and easily tolerates temperatures of -20°F without damage. We are indebted to Dr. Lola Koerting, former director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Kitchawan Research Station, for supplying us with scionwood of this thrilling introduction. Z. 4b-9
Magnolia x brooklynensis 'Ambrosia'
Multicolored flowers of strong yellow with shades of green are striped and striated throughout with purple—quite an eyeful! This U.K. introduction forms a vigorous-growing tree, reaching 20 feet or more. Typical of M. x brooklynensis, bloom starts in late April, avoiding most late frosts. Z. 5-9
Magnolia x brooklynensis 'Hattie Carthan'
Parchment-yellow flowers are subtly striated with magenta and are complemented by a delightful fragrance. The flowers have unusually heavy substance and appear with the earliest leaves in late April and May, so late that there is virtually no chance of frost damage. There is frequently repeat bloom in summer. After 12 years in our garden it has reached some 15 feet in height with a spread of less than 8 feet, so it would seem suitable for a narrow spot. One of our favorite magnolias, this Brooklyn Botanic Garden release honors a Brooklyn plant lover who mounted a campaign to save a neighborhood Magnolia grandiflora. Extremely rare in commerce. (M. x brooklynensis). Z. 4b-9
Magnolia x wieseneri - Wiesener Magnolia
Rarely found in the trade, this natural hybrid of M. sieboldii and M. hypoleuca displays upward-facing creamy white flowers with red stamens. Flowers are enhanced by an exceptional fruit-punch fragrance. It grows as a large shrub, maturing at only 10 feet, thus suitable for smaller gardens, and it definitely prefers to grow in dappled sun. Z. 5-9
Magnolia zenii 'Pink Parchment'
Magnolia zenii is an exceedingly rare magnolia, restricted to a few dozen plants in its native China. This is the first named selection of M. zenii, and it was grown by Michael Dirr from Arnold Arboretum seed. It proved to be sturdier and more drought tolerant than other M. zenii specimens. The flowers are white with purple-pink striping on the outside, pure white on the inside, and they are larger than normal. They have an excellent, sweet fragrance. M. zenii blooms early (with Forsythia) and has proved hardy, including flower bud hardy, to -28°F. Z. (4)5-9
Magnolia acuminata - Yellow Cucumber-Tree Magnolias
A handsome small forest tree with bold deciduous foliage, the Yellow Cucumber Tree Magnolia bears yellow flowers, and it is, in fact, the ultimate origin of all yellow-flowered Magnolias! Because this subspecies blooms roughly the same time as it leafs out, there is rarely a danger that frost will damage the flowers.
Magnolia acuminata 'Blue Opal' - Cucumber Tree Magnolia
A blue magnolia? Well, not exactly, but Magnolia acuminata 'Blue Opal' does have bluish-green buds, which then open to yellow flowers. Z. 5-8
Stocky plants, grown in 5-gallon pots.
Magnolia acuminata 'Brenda' - Cucumber Tree Magnolia
The most brilliant deep yellow of any magnolia, bar none, according to the late magnolia guru Dr. Frank Galyon, as well as our own observations. Flowers are particularly full as they can have up to 9 petals (besides 3 sepals). It is also slow growing, forming a rounded tree of only 12 feet high and wide, nice for a small specimen. Raised by Tennessee plantsman Mike Stansberry from open pollinated seed of M. acuminata ssp. cordata. Z. 5-8
Magnolia acuminata 'Skylands' Best' - Yellow Cucumber Tree Magnolia
A repeat flowering yellow magnolia! From the Skylands Botanical Garden here in New Jersey comes this selection with unusually large yellow flowers, 6 inches across, which appear in late spring with repeat bloom in late summer. Leaves are dark green and especially handsome. Z. 5-8
These deciduous Magnolias, most native to the United States, are grown primarily for their foliage as they have decorative leaves which range from large to immense. They all have correspondingly large white flowers which open among the fully expanded new leaves in late spring. These trees are a little slow to establish in the garden, but after a couple of years they seem to get their bearings and shoot up with abandon. Cold winters have shown that they are much hardier than expected, and many can be grown even into Canada. Every gardener should try to accommodate at least one of these interesting and lovely trees.
Magnolia macrophylla - Bigleaf Magnolia
With immense leaves up to 3 feet long and fragrant flowers a foot or more across, Magnolia macrophylla challenges the vocabulary of the catalogue writer! Suffice it to say, this is the largest-leaved hardy tree that we know of! In keeping with its elephantine parts, it reaches 40-50 feet and is suitable for larger properties. In spite of its exotic appearance, it is native to large parts of the U.S., and it is fully hardy in the North and into southern Canada. Z. (4)5-9
Magnolia tripetala - Umbrella Magnolia
Banana-like two-foot-long leaves clustered at the ends of branches produce a decidedly tropical effect. White flowers in May add to the appeal of the Umbrella Magnolia, which can grow into a substantial tree of 20-30 feet, best sited at the rear of a planting where its lush foliage sets off finer-textured shrubs and perennials. Planting a few young Umbrella Magnolias together will lead your visitors to believe they have wandered onto a tropical plantation! Z. 4-8
Magnolia x loebneri - Loebner Magnolias
A hybrid of M. stellata and M. kobus exhibiting particularly good hardiness, wind resistance, and tolerance of unfavorable soil types. It grows well in Zone 4 of Canada and has been untouched by bitterly cold winters. It quickly becomes a large shrub or a small, multistemmed tree, and the flowers are reminiscent of M. stellata. Z. 4-9
Magnolia x loebneri 'White Rose' - Loebner Magnolia
White flowers have abundant petals, which remain firm and perky, much like a white rose or perhaps a gardenia, and the petals droop only well after the bloom has faded. Magnolia x loebneri is noted for sturdiness, wind resistance, and tolerance of unfavorable soils, and 'White Rose' has also proved to be unusually hardy as it was undamaged and bloomed normally in Dennis Ledvina's Wisconsin garden after -28°F! We're indebted to Dennis for sharing this plant with us. Blooms appear in early spring. Z. 4-8
Magnolia x soulangiana - Saucer Magnolias
The popular Saucer Magnolia is a hybrid of M. denudata and M. liliiflora bred in France about 1820. We offer selected cultivars which are far superior to the unnamed Saucer Magnolias commonly found in most garden centers.
Magnolia x soulangiana 'Lennei' - Saucer Magnolia
A famous vintage selection from Italy with flowers as sumptuous as a Victorian chapeau! The flowers, dark purple on the outside, white inside, appear just before the leaves in April and continue into May with an occasional repeat in midsummer. Forms a large, broad shrub. Royal Horticultural Society First Class Certificate awarded in 1863. Z. 5-9
Bushy own-root plants, grown in 3-gallon pots.
Magnolia x soulangiana 'Lilliputian' - Saucer Magnolia
Abundant light pink flowers bloom late on a slow-growing shrub which is smaller than other Saucer Magnolias and thus suitable for limited-space gardens. A 10-year-old plant should measure about 8-9 feet high and less wide. Z. 5-9