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Magnolia Trees

Magnolia trees are beautiful - that's undisputed. So, it's no surprise that customers at Gardeners Dream find it so hard to choose just one magnolia tree from our full range! We have carefully selected a range of magnolia tree varieties that will bring beauty and elegance to your garden. Browse our plants now and read our full guide to magnolia trees below to learn more about these magnolia plants. In the UK, you will be hard-pressed to find a serious garden without a magnolia tree or shrub. But what makes magnolia so popular and why do gardeners all over the country have such a soft spot for this wonderful plant? This guide explores the amazingly diverse world of magnolia. Buy our range today and get free UK delivery. 

Introduction to Magnolia Trees

Magnolias are a very large genus that has at least 210 plant species with upwards estimates being closer to 340. It is a flowering plant that belongs to the family Magnoliaceae - which gets its name from Pierre Magnol, a French botanist who first categorised the magnolia family (and many others).

The plant itself is historically significant and it has been found in the fossil record (95 million years ago) before bees first appeared! This has led scientists to theorise that the plant was originally pollinated by beetles when it was an ancient genus.

Magnolia is native to Southeast Asia, the Americas and the West Indies. It can grow in almost all locations and does extremely well in the UK.

You will find either evergreen magnolia or deciduous species - check our full range of deciduous trees to learn more. Magnolias are spreading trees or shrubs and come in a range of sizes - perfect for gardens of all sizes.

Each year they produce flowers that are fragrant and large - perhaps most unusual is that deciduous species tend to flower before the leaves appear in the spring. In autumn most magnolia trees also fruit.

The early flowering and late fruiting means that they can prolong the colour and harvest from your garden fruit trees!

Popular Magnolia Tree Choices

So, now we have discovered a bit about magnolia trees, you're probably wondering which magnolia of the 340 types are best for your garden - after all you're spoilt for choice.

Below we have listed some of the most popular UK magnolia choices.

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Magnolia grandiflora is an evergreen species that provides large white open flowers. The flowers open from May through to September.

What makes Magnolia grandiflora stand out is the colours and contrast between them. The foliage is a lush glossy green that is offset perfectly by the creamy white flowers. The blooms are as distinctive as our range of high-quality roses here at Gardeners Dream.

This plant is a medium to large magnolia tree and will eventually reach heights of 10 metres or so (if you choose not to cut it back). They prefer to grow in full sun or partial shade areas with acidic/neutral soil.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

This is a small tree that is native to Japan with decadent and pretty star shaped flowers. The flowers open in late winter or early spring giving your garden an unusual interest at a time when most plants are dormant.

The flowers range in colours depending on your tree. You can expect pale pink, dark pink and white flowers. Because of its unlikely blooming time, it makes an excellent specimen tree or large lawn shrub.

Magnolia stellata is typically a hardy shrub; however, it shouldn't be planted in wind-exposed areas or parts of the country that are liable to late frosts.

Royal Star (Magnolia stellata)

Within the Star Magnolia species, the Magnolia stellata Royal Star sits on the throne. It is a multi-award-winning magnolia plant that presents with pink buds that open to crown-like white flowers.

The flowers are commonly referred to as 'starburst' and you can enjoy them sooner than most other magnolias as the Royal Star blooms 10 days earlier.

It is a fast grower and if you're looking for a tree to establish itself quickly and take its rightful place in your garden, the Royal Star should be in your shortlist of magnolias.

To add further colour and foliage to your garden, explore our full range of garden plants for more.

Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Magnolia virginiana goes by several names so don't be confused when perusing our wonderful magnolia selection in our shop! These are the common names for it;

  • Sweetbay Magnolia (also Laurel Magnolia)

  • Swampbay

  • Swamp Magnolia

  • White Bay

  • Beaver Tree

It was the first magnolia that was identified and described by modern botanist standards and has become the plant that typifies what you might expect magnolia trees to look like.

These magnolia trees can grow to extraordinary sizes (up to 100ft) and if you're looking for a magnolia to tower over your other garden plants, this is the one.

It can be found in both deciduous and evergreen varieties, and this actually comes down to the climate of the area you live in - if you live in a colder region the plant will go dormant during the winter while it remains evergreen in warmer climates.

If 'laurel' caught your eye, then take a look at our full range of laurel trees in the UK next.

Saucer Magnolia

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) is a hybrid magnolia. Once again, it has lovely blooms and flowers in pink, deep purple and white.

Of the magnolias we have listed so far, the Saucer Magnolia is the most popular early spring magnolia grown by UK horticulturalists - it is especially well liked in England where it thrives.

It is a deciduous multi-stemmed small tree or large shrub, and the flowers display in sensational fashion - when the tree is still bare. The Saucer Magnolia takes its name from the flower shape, with many plants having cup or saucer shaped flowers.

We love this southern Magnolia at Gardeners Dream, but it's not the only shrub that can thrive in your garden. Discover other shrubs with all manner of flowers in our full range of shrubs.

Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata)

The oddly named Cucumber Tree (as it does not grow cucumbers) is one of the most interesting trees you can buy and grow in the UK. It likes moist and fertile soil with a full sun or partial shade location.

It is however fairly tolerant and can grow well in both drier and wetter soils. Magnolia acuminata is native to North America (specifically the Missouri river basin).

If you're looking for aroma, this is likely not the magnolia for you as compared to other magnolias it is less fragrant - with that said the flowers are tulip-like and showy - making up for the lack of fragrance. They're also very hardy trees and provide a lot of shade coverage from early summer with their dark green leaves.

For even more shade cover, you might want to consider browsing our willow trees next.

Evergreen Magnolias

Evergreen magnolias provide year-round interest and typically flower prolifically during from late spring to mid-summer. They prefer slightly warmer climates compared to deciduous magnolias but do well in the UK due to milder winters compared to other world locations.

There aren't any native species of magnolia to the UK, so it is best to select an evergreen plant that originates in an area with a similar climate. If you're seeking out a stunning display with a long flowering season, then you should probably opt for an evergreen.

Evergreen varieties of magnolia include Chinese evergreen magnolia (Magnolia delavayi) and southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora).

Deciduous Magnolias

Deciduous plants differ from their evergreen counterparts because although they don't provide as much interest throughout the year - they do have floral displays at unusual (normally when most needed) times. If you want to have your garden in bloom from early spring, then plant a magnolia that's deciduous.

Another aspect of deciduous plants is that they tend to be a little hardier and more tolerant to some of the more adverse areas of British weather. Whereas evergreen plants don't always fare well with colder climates, a deciduous plant will cope by entering a dormant phase.

They also cope well with hot summers providing they have adequate hydration throughout.

Some great deciduous varieties include kobus magnolia (Magnolia kobus) and loebner magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri) which is a hybrid of kobus magnolia and star magnolia.

For more deciduous plants that transition with your garden from summer to early fall/autumn, take a look at our ornamental trees next.

Planting Magnolia Trees

There are a number of considerations you should make when planting magnolia;

  • They prefer acidic soil (which can be supplemented with acidic mulch).

  • They range significantly in size, so opt for small shrubs for small gardens and larger shrubs for bigger gardens.

  • If you're planting a magnolia tree you should ensure you have adequate space as they can grow very tall and have a tendency to spread.

  • They have fleshy roots so don't plant them alongside plants with invasive or aggressive root structures.

Once you have worked out the answers to the above points you will have a better idea about which magnolias will suit your garden best.

Don't worry if you have a neutral soil as you can always add acidic mulch to help create an acidic soil. Most magnolias will not grow well at all in alkaline soil so don't be tempted to risk it.

Not sure that this plant species is right for your garden? No problem. We have hundreds of plants online at Gardeners Dream.

Caring for Magnolia Trees

There are a few problems you might encounter when growing magnolias;

  1. Fungal diseases - the UK can sometimes have a wet/warm climate which contributes to fungal diseases that magnolias are susceptible to. If you notice your plant showing signs of disease it is best to remove that portion of the plant entirely.

  2. Damaged branches - in high wind or exposed areas, magnolias can get damaged branches. You can either remove the branch altogether or if it is an important branch wrapping it at the break will help it heal.

If you want to encourage pollination with magnolias, you want to make your garden as wildlife (specifically insects) friendly. Plant flowers that attract bees to encourage pollination. Alternative, choose a blossoming fruit tree like an apple tree.

A magnolia tree will need sunlight and you should always plant them in full sun or part shade - don't be tempted to plant a magnolia in a full shade position.

It might take a few years for a young magnolia to mature and then produce flowers - which brings us onto our next section - beautiful blooms.

Tips for the Best Magnolia Flowers

Now you have chosen and planted your magnolias you will be eager to witness it in full bloom. Magnolias can present in many different shades;

  • Pure white flowers

  • Pale pink flowers/Pink flowers

  • Deep purple flowers

You can also get a wonderful array of fragrances from your plants like lemon scented flowers, and various shapes from discs to star-shaped blooms.

To get the best flowers you should follow the following tips;

  • Avoid planting in full shade or even part shade.

  • Use acidic fertilizer wherever possible.

  • For colder climates use cold hardy types.

  • Ensure your soil is moist but well drained.

And that's it, all the tips you need to enjoy stunning floral displays. Make sure you check out our amazing range of magnolias at Gardener's Dream. We stock;

  • Magnolia Trees

  • Magnolia X

  • Large Trees

  • Larger Magnolias/Larger Shrubs

  • Small Tree/Small Shrubs

Visit Gardeners Dream today to pick your perfect tree - with FREE UK delivery you have every excuse to have a look! And don't stop there, from small garden trees to shade-loving herbaceous border plants, we have it all.

At Gardeners Dream, we are passionate about bringing high-quality plant varieties to gardens across the country. Our free delivery guarantee applies on every order - whether you are looking to buy a small forest, some climbing plants or just a few flowerbed shrubs. Revitalise your garden with beautiful plants.

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