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by Colour Your Life • Thursday March 9, 2017

We can probably all remember the righteous indignation that accompanied the announcement that a retailer in one British town promoted dust pans and brushes as Mother’s Day gifts – it just wasn’t on!  Mother’s Day should be a special occasion - a chance for everyone to make a fuss of that special lady.  The gift of a glorious Magnolia – so much a signature plant of this time of year, is just right for this.

Whether you go for the simple stars of Mangolia stellata or the glorious goblets of Magnolia soulangeana, planting one of these winners is a wonderful way to celebrate Mother’s Day. Smaller varieties are perfect for container growing, so Magnolias can deliver their magic even if outdoor space is in short supply.

Magnolia Stellata

Magnolia stellata is the perfect choice for container growing, flowering profusely in spring with white or delicate pink flowers, depending on variety.  Magnolia ‘Susan’, which produces glorious purple-red flowers with the bonus of fragrance, is another great option if space is limited. 

Take the time to choose an attractive pot that will be big enough to accommodate the shrub as it grows.  There’s a fantastic range to choose from these days and a well-potted plant will really make the gift a winner!  With more space, you might consider planting directly in the ground.

Sorts of Magnolias

Whether buying or being bought for, there is an exciting range to choose from.  Here are a few pointers: Magnolia x loebneri is a wonderful shrub or small tree for the garden, producing masses of star-shaped flowers, 8-13cm across.  Look out especially for ‘Leonard Messel’, which produces pale, lilac pink flowers or ‘Merrill’ for white flowers. 

For large goblet-shaped flowers that come in mid and late spring, look to Magnolia soulangeana.  ‘Rustica Rubra’ is a beauty, its purplish red flowers being reminiscent of a good glass of country red, alternatively go for ‘Lennei Alba’ with its pure white blooms.  Magnolia campbellii would be great if space allows (it is a bigger tree) because it produces those intriguing ‘cup-and-saucer’ shaped flowers.  ‘Darjeeling’ or ‘Charles Raffill’ are very lovely.

Planting zone of Magnolias

Magnolias really can be the showpieces of a garden.  Put the big ones in prominent positions or with other trees in woodland garden situations.  Most prefer soil tending towards acidic, although some, including Magnolia stellata and Magnolia x loebneri, are happy in alkaline soils.  They are very light on maintenance, needing nothing more than a trim in late winter to remove any untidy shoots that spoil the framework. 

They do in fact personify what mums everywhere dream of: something beautiful that gives loads of enjoyment and asks for almost nothing in return!


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