If you’re looking for a showy flowering tree that’s not too large but grows fast, consider the Magnolia! There are some gorgeous Magnolia hybrids that work well in clay soil, making Magnolias a better choice for most landscapes than dogwoods, which prefer well-drained soils.
Magnolias are known for their immense purple-pink and white tulip-shaped blooms. A few varieties have ivory or pale yellow blooms. Right now they are at their best, providing a real show in the early spring before their leaves form.
There is a family of compact hybrids with women’s names like Jane, Susan, Betty and Anne (we call them “the girls”) that make ideal lawn trees, big enough to walk under when they grow up. Many of them re-bloom lightly during the summer and fall.
The star Magnolia “Royal Star” is also a favorite, with gleaming ivory white waxy petals and a nice compact shape. This variety rarely exceeds ten feet tall and wide, and generally grows like a large shrub rather than a tree form.
Magnolias naturally grow multiple trunks and lots of spreading branches, hanging down to the ground like giant shrubs. They are very attractive in a “clump” form with multiple trunks, “limbed up” to show off their attractive silvery bark.
At GoodSeed Farm and we have one that has been in our gardens about twelve years. Her name is “Jane” and she’s a real show-stopper when she’s in bloom! If planted carefully and fed a steady diet of “Holly Tone”, magnolias can add several feet of growth in a single season. We like to use pine bark mulch around Magnolias because they are acid-loving. A bit of pruning can really enhance this tree; simply removing sucker growth gives them a simpler and more graceful shape. Pruning off horizontal limbs from the bottom up makes a clump-form tree with room underneath to plant other things.
This is a very good time to plant young trees, getting them established before the weather gets hot. If you shop for Magnolias right now you can compare blooms, and enjoy them for a few weeks after you plant.
Steve Boehme and his wife Marjorie own GoodSeed Nursery & Landscape, located near Winchester, Ohio at 9736 Tri-County Highway. More information is available at www.goodseedfarm.com or call (937) 587-7021.