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Japanese Magnolia Tree: Varieties, Care, and Other Important Facts

Japanese Magnolia Tree
The Japanese magnolia is a must have tree variety for a beautiful landscape. You can plant hybrid magnolia varieties that flower in vibrant colors and appreciate their spectacular blooms.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Last Updated: Feb 23, 2018
Hands Touching Magnolia Flowers
While listing some of the most sought after flowering trees, we cannot miss the Japanese magnolia. You might have known it by different names - tulip tree, lily magnolia, red magnolia, and purple magnolia. The shape of a fully opened Japanese magnolia flower resembles a saucer, hence it is alternatively called the saucer magnolia. A broadleaf, deciduous tree by nature, the leaves turn bright yellow in fall season. It blooms in shades of white, light pink, dark pink, and purple. Not only the blooms are showy and attractive, they are fragrant too.
Japanese magnolia, scientific name Magnolia liliiflora, is actually an ancient tree species that has its origin in southwest China. The name Japanese magnolia is assigned as the first trees imported to America were from Japan. Even during the non-flowering months, the yard still looks spectacular with its dark green foliage and silver-gray bark. What's more, it is suitable for planting in any type of landscape design. So, if you have been planning to grow some attractive trees in your yard, opt for this magnolia cultivar. The following is a brief info about Japanese magnolia, which you ought to know before growing it.
As the demand for this ornamental tree is very high, several tulip tree hybrids are being developed that have specific traits. Some of the popular varieties include Royal star Japanese magnolia (pure white flower), Ann Japanese magnolia (bright pink blooms), butterfly Japanese magnolia (creamy yellow flower), and Jane Japanese magnolia (red purple petals). Choose magnolia tree type carefully, and the priority should be suitability of the variety with the climatic conditions in your area.
Though seeds are viable, propagation of magnolia tree is commonly done with the help of vegetative methods, such as softwood cuttings, grafting, and mound layering. The plant saplings are obtained from matured trees, hence they take less time for flowering, which is not so in case of normal propagation by seeds. Also, one drawback of seed propagation is that the crown shape, size, and tree vigor of magnolias grown from seeds may vary from the mother tree.
Growth Rate
When planted in favorable conditions, the growth rate of this flowering tree is optimal. As far as the height of Japanese magnolia is concerned, this tree species grows to about 15 - 25 feet at maturity. The tree spread measures about 20 - 30 feet. However, some gardening enthusiasts succeed in training it as a shrub. According to your landscape plan and garden layout, you can control the height of this beautiful tree with a little effort.
This deciduous tree thrives well in USDA zones 5 - 9. It prefers to grow in moist, well-drained soil, and areas that receive partial shade to full sun. You can plant it long before the arrival of frost. As the right time arrives, prepare soil according to the horticulturist directions. Make a hole in the soil, slightly larger and deeper than the original container. Transfer the tree sapling in the hole and cover the roots with soil. Tamp the soil to remove air pockets and water deeply.
In the first few days, magnolia tree care involves regular watering. Once established, irrigate only when the top soil dries out. Laying a mulch layer helps in conserving moisture, regulating soil temperature, and preventing weed growth. For established magnolia, consider fertilizing in late winter. You can prune the tree in any desirable shape after flowering is over. While pruning, remove old branches, weak twigs, and diseased branches by cutting them near the main stem.
Growing Japanese magnolia is not a concern for gardeners. But, the worrying issue is susceptibility of the tree to some diseases and pests. The disease infestation is less, when required growing conditions are maintained properly. Some Japanese magnolia tree diseases are leaf spot, verticillium wilt, and sooty mold. And dreadful pests for this tree include Japanese beetle, slugs and leaf miners.
The flowering period of Japanese magnolia starts in early spring and continues till summer and fall. As they develop before the leaves, the flowers look more beautiful on the bare branches. The blooms are large, scented, and long-lasting, thus lending a heady scent in the flower garden for a long period. No wonder, they are pollinated with the help of beetles. So, do not delay in visiting your local nursery and select healthy tulip tree cultivar that grows well in your area.