Magnolia stellata is a deciduous bush or small tree which was first grown in Japan and was originally introduced to Europe in the late 18thCentury. It takes its common name – Star Magnolia – from its white, slightly fragrant, star shaped flowers, 3-4 inches across, which appear in early to mid spring. Slow growing, rarely exceeding 12 feet in height and spread, and quick to produce flower, it is the form of magnolia most suitable for a small garden, or even as a pot grown patio plant. However the splendid canopy of flower decking a mature magnolia stellata in early spring can earn it a place in any garden, large or small.
Growing Magnolia Stellata
Magnolia Stellata grows best in neutral or slightly acid soil, well enriched with humus when planting, and in sun or part shade. Avoid chalky soil and sites exposed to cold winds. Once planted, this easy-to-grow species needs little attention. Simply;
- Mulch annually, and in dry weather to prevent moisture loss.
- Avoid root disturbance after planting, controlling weeds by bark chips or fabric rather than by hoeing.
- Shake any snow from the branches, which may otherwise break under the weight.
- Prune only when needed to remove diseased or unsightly growth or to control size.
Propagating Magnolia Stellata
Magnolia Stellata can be raised from ripe seed sown in spring, but seed may take up to 18 months to germinate. For quicker and more reliable results take softwood cuttings or layer vigorous new sbhoots emerging close to the ground. For the expert gardener, grafting will produce the best results of all.
Varieties of Magnolia Stellata
The true species plant is the most widely grown, and the one most likely to be found in most nurseries or garden centres. However, a number of other varieties have been developed, including some forms with pink or pink flushed flowers. These are more likely to be available from specialist growers and nurseries. Popular varieties include;.
- Magnolia Rosea. Height and spread 8-12 feet. The glorious semi double star shaped flowers appear pink in the bud, but mature to white.
- Magnolia Royal Star. Height and spread 8-12 feet. An improved white form with more tepals ( magnolias don’t have true petals or sepals) than the species plant.
- Magnolia Water Lily. Height and spread 8-12 feet. More vigorous than most varieties with large ( 4 inch) ivory white flowers, although some clones have pink flushed flowers. The flowers are initially an attractive goblet shape before opening into the normal flatter star.