Magnolia is a large genus of deciduous and evergreen trees that are popular for their beautiful and scented flowers. This is also one of the longest surviving trees on the planet dating back to about 95 million years ago, that is why mention of Magnolia is found in ancient as well as modern culture and literature. Long before it was introduced in horticulture, Magnolia has been used in China and Japan in traditional medicine.
The genus primarily belongs to Southeast Asia but grows natively in many parts of the world including the Americas and West Indies.
Today, Magnolia is popular among horticulturists and gardeners as an excellent flowering tree. The waxy flowers are known for their beautiful shape and colors and intoxicating fragrance. That is why, it has also been extensively hybridized to produce various new varieties with a broad range of colorful flowers. The most popular and widely cultivated species is Magnolia grandiflora which is an evergreen species with large leathery leaves and magnificent flowers. The plant can grow up to 6 meters in cultivation and as tall as 30 meters in wild. The foliage and flowers vary greatly according to the growing conditions. The size of leaves, flowers and the tree itself depends on the conditions of light, water and soil.
Popular Varieties of Magnolia grandiflora
A number of popular cultivars of Magnolia grandiflora are also commercially available. These include:
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Goliath’ – Nice flowering tree with bushy growth and extended flowering season.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’ – Fast growing tree with green, leathery leaves. Flowers are large and strongly scented.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ – A dwarf and slow growing cultivar with a columnar shape which reaches around 4.25 m, prolonged flowering cycle in warmer climate.
Generally, Magnolias prefer fertile and slightly acidic soil, plenty of water and good exposure to sunlight. Young plants of Magnolia need protection from strong winds.