Saturday, March 27, 2010

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Magnolia x soulangiana

Magnolia x soulangiana
Saucer Magnolia
(Sometimes called Japanese Tulip Magnolia)

An absolutely breath-taking sight in early spring when the large, tulip-shaped flowers open on bare branches, this gorgeous magnolia, is, in fact, one of the very first harbingers of spring, along with the bright yellow of forsythia and those happy. happy little crocus.

It's a relatively small tree--a great specimen for a larger yard--growing 20' to 30' tall, and can be multi-trunked or single-trunked. The flowers are various shades of white, pink and purplish-maroon, depending on the cultivar.

The only drawback to this tree's spectacular spring beauty is that the flowers can be burnt by early spring frosts, a depressing sight indeed. If they are lucky enough to prevail without a killing frost however, you will be blessed with a virtual carpet of pink as the petals fall off, as you can see here outside this blog author's very own kitchen window:

A nice cultivar that we recommend is 'Jane', smaller (growing to about 10 feet) and with a deeper purplish pink color to the flowers, which seem to persist extra long.

'Jane' blooms later than the larger M.soulangiana making it less susceptible to late freezes.

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