Saucer Magnolia, Magnolia ×soulangeana
Foliage: About 5 inches long; alternate; deciduous
Height: About 25 feet
Spread: About 20 feet
Shape: Oval to somewhat rounded
Saucer magnolia is generally a small (occasionally medium) multi-stem tree that is known for its outstanding flower display in March (February in southern U.S. and April in northern U.S.). Flowers are about 8 inches in diameter; outer sides of petals (actually called tepals; about 9 tepals) are various shades of pink-purple while inner sides of tepals are white. There are numerous cultivars (more than 50) that vary in flower characteristics (color, size, date of emergence, fragrance, and flower bud hardiness), plant form, hardiness, and growth rate. Because this species flowers in late winter and early spring, flowers are vulnerable to low temperatures. In most years flowers (or flower buds) are damaged to some degree, ranging from slightly damaged to total destruction, by sub-freezing temperatures. To avoid this damage, one should select a late-flowering cultivar such as ‘Brozzonii’, ‘Lennei’, ‘Speciosa’, or ‘Verbanica’. When flowers are undamaged, the flower show is magnificent.
Zone: 4 to 9
Light: Full sun to part shade
Soil type: Average
pH range: Acid
Saucer magnolia cultivars are suitable wherever a small tree is appropriate in a landscape. However, one should realize that the primary showy feature, the superb flower display, will only be realized about one in every four years since low temperatures damage flowers. As mentioned in the Main Features section, select a late blooming cultivar to minimize the potential for low temperature damage.
Saucer magnolia is relatively carefree but will require irrigation during periods of drought.
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October 3, 2018