Japanese Magnolia trees are planted extensively throughout the southern United States where the winters are mild. This large tree provides blooms in early spring and is considered one of the first signs of spring in many areas. It’s resistance to pests and disease makes it a favorite of many landscapers and homeowners.
There are several varieties of this popular tree available commercially. This tree is also called the saucer magnolia and tulip magnolia. It is a deciduous tree that provides flowers in very early spring. These blooms may be white, pink or purple according to the variety. Three of the most common cultivars available are the Star Magnolia, Loebner Magnolia and Little Girl hybrid. The star magnolia has white flowers and is one of the earliest bloomers. The Loebner magnolia can produce white or fuchsia colored blooms with a strong fragrance. The little girl hybrids are a much smaller version of the Japanese magnolia as they reach only about 20 feet in height rather than the 30 feet of other varieties.
The Japanese magnolia tree prefers well drained, fertile soil. The tree can reach a height of 30 feet with a spread of 25 feet so it is important to choose a planting location that will not require pruning later to keep it within available space. It will prosper in full sun or partial shade, particularly when the shade is in the afternoon.
When planting the tree dig a hole that is 6 inches deeper than the root ball and work organics into the soil. Make sure the bottom of the hole is flat, rather than a cone shape, to maximize the ability of the roots to spread into the surrounding ground. Replace 6 inches of the mixed soil back into the hole so the top of the root ball is just below ground level. Fill in around the root ball with the remaining dirt and water thoroughly. Water regularly until the roots have established themselves. The Japanese Magnolia is not drought resistant so it will require watering whenever the weather is dry for a long time.
Japanese Magnolia trees are resistant to many pests and are not prone to any disease. They bloom very early in the spring and the blooms can suffer from a late frost. This tree is also not drought resistant and will not grow well in very dry environments without regular watering. When planted in a location where it can grow naturally the tree will require only minimal pruning. Check annually for damaged branches or branches that may cross and rub together. These should be removed to prevent the tree from being vulnerable to pests and disease. Powdery mildew can occur when there is not enough air circulating within the branches of the tree. Remove additional branches within the tree as necessary to increase air circulation and prevent this disease.
Japanese magnolia are extremely popular landscaping trees in many warm areas. The variety of bloom colors can make every landscape beautiful.