"Gosh honey. That looks like a bundle of twigs. Are you sure it's alive?" I could hear my husband's inquisition in my head as I considered purchasing a Japanese Magnolia for my front yard in January. Patience is a virtue most experienced gardeners possess. And the rewards are beautiful, sometimes aromatic, natural masterpieces.
There is something to be said about the gardener who can appreciate the form of a small deciduous tree in winter. The color and texture of the bark and the interplay of the branches are amazing all on their own. And, with Japanese Magnolias, the fuzzy flower buds that form before almost any other flowering tree in early spring are a sign to me that winter is fleeting (especially this year) and that life is abundant.
Japanese Magnolias go by several other names - Saucer Magnolia, Tulip Tree, Tulip Magnolia and I am sure there are others. Buds emerge in early spring before any foliage is visible on their branches. Their flowers are shaped like, hmmm, tulips or cup and saucers. Sometimes it is all in the name.
These trees and shrubs are perfect for the Houston area. Houston is known as the Magnolia City for a reason (though I am sure that has more to do with the Southern, evergreen varieties). All Japanese Magnolia cultivars will require well-draining soil, regular watering (especially when first planted and through the hottest or driest parts of the year), part-sun or part shade (no afternoon sun, especially in our Summer heat), and mulch around the base. Microlife 6-2-4 would be a great choice for fertilizing your Japanese Magnolia. Most cultivars are considered very disease resistant and many are also deer resistant as well. And for an added benefit, the cultivars we carry are cold hardy to below zero Farenheit.
Some of the cultivars we have are:
Black Tulip Magnolia
- Large, deep purple flowers
- Tree form - 15-20' tall and 6-10' wide
- Moderate Grower
- Medium size, white flowers, fragrant and showy
- Large Shrub or Tree up to 25' tall and wide
- Fast growing to 12' tall, 15' wide
- Large, purple-pink flowers, fragrant and showy
- Large Shrub or tree, 25' tall if maintained as a tree
- Moderate grower, 15' tall and 10' wide
- Medium size, pink flowers, fragrant and showy
- Large Shrub or small tree, 10-15' tall and 12' wide
- Slow grower
Royal Star Magnolia
- Medium size, white star like flowers, fragrant and showy
- Large Shrub or tree, 10-15' tall, 10-12' wide
- Moderate grower
Just in case you are curious, I did not purchase a Japanese Magnolia in January. Unfortunately, I don't have the space or light requirements for one in my front yard (Maybe next year.... In my back yard...In my new garden... Big smile here).
So what did I actually hear when I brought the tree I selected for my front yard home?
Ummm. "Honey, that just looks like a bunch of sticks. Are you sure it's alive?"
I bought a lavender twist redbud and I am patiently awaiting my spring reward.