Gardening

Chinese Magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana)

I love magnolias. They have a very elegant bearing, and flowers… very, very beautiful. But most species are quite large trees, which cannot be grown in small gardens, much less in pots, except one, which is not actually a species but a hybrid: Magnolia x soulangeana.

This is ideal to plant in any corner that meets certain requirements, so if you want to know what its needs are and how it is cared for, then I will present it to you duly .

Origin and characteristics of the Magnolia soulangeana

Image – Wikimedia/ Kroton

Our protagonist is a hybrid that is obtained by crossing Magnolia denudata and Mangolia liliiflora. It is a small tree or deciduous shrub that does not exceed 5 meters in height known as a deciduous magnolia, Chinese magnolia, lily tree, deciduous magnolia, or tulip tree.

The leaves are elliptical, broad, and somewhat leathery, green in color. Its trunk can grow straight or slightly sloping, depending on the location and the space it has. Its flowers are large, white or pink depending on the variety, and appear before the leaves.

Varieties

The most popular are:

  • Alba: white flowers.
  • Lennei: with crimson or pink and white flowers inside.
  • Rubra: pinkish-reddish flowers.
  • Speciosa: the inside of the flowers is white, and the outside is pinkish-purple. They take longer to sprout and are smaller, but last longer before dropping from the plant.

What are the care of the tulip tree?

If you dare to buy a copy, I recommend you take care of it as follows:

Location

The Magnolia x soulangeana has to be outside, but where? Well, it will depend on the weather:

  • If they are very hot, with strong insolation: under the shade of taller plants, shading mesh, or similar.
  • If they are warm or soft: it can give you a few hours in the sun.

Earth

It will depend on where you have it:

  • Garden: the soil must be acidic (pH between 4 and 6), loose, well drained and fertile.
  • Pot:
    • Temperate climates with frosts: as long as the substrate is rich in organic matter and not calcareous, you can use any.
    • Climates with hot summers and mild winters with very weak frosts: mix akadama or volcanic clay of small-medium grain (3 to 5mm) with 30% pomx or perlite.

Irrigation

Moderate to frequent, especially during the summer season when the soil dries up much more quickly. But you must bear in mind that it does not resist waterlogging, nor drought, because of this, it is highly recommended to check the humidity of the substrate or soil before watering, for example with a meter or a stick.

Use rainwater, lime-free or with a low pH (between 4 and 6). It is an acidophilic plant, which means that if the water and soil are calcareous, it will immediately begin to have yellow leaves due to lack of iron. If it happens, don’t hesitate to water it next time with water and a little iron chelate (on sale here ).

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Besides water, Magnolia x soulangeana will need compost to be well. Therefore, I advise you to fertilize it with fertilizers for acidophilic plants following the instructions specified on the packaging in spring and summer. 

Planting or transplanting time

In spring, when the risk of frost has passed.

Pruning

You don’t need it. Since it has a rather slow growth, if you consider it necessary you can direct its branches with the help of ropes, but I do not advise it. It is a plant that over time acquires its magnificent adult bearing.

Remove only dry branches after flowering.

Multiplication

Being a hybrid, it does not bear fruit or seeds. But that does not have to worry you, since it can be multiplied easily by means of soft wood cuttings with leaves in late spring or late summer.

Once you have them, you impregnate the base with homemade rooters, the potted plants with vermiculite.

If all goes well, they will emit their own roots in a month.

Related article:The best homemade rooters for your cuttings

Plagues and diseases

Has not. It can be affected by fungi if it is watered in excess, but nothing that is not easily avoided by controlling the waterings.

Related article:How to eliminate fungi in plant soil?

Anyway, if you see that the leaves are falling fast and it is not autumn or winter, and you notice the soil very wet, treat it with fungicides.

Rusticity

The Magnolia soulangeana resists frosts down to -15ºC, but it cannot live in tropical climates, since it needs to feel the passage of the seasons to know when to bloom and grow (spring-summer) and when to rest (autumn-winter).

At the very least, to be successful, the thermometer should drop to at least 0 degrees, and then rise to no more than 10-15ºC.

What uses is given to Magnolia soulangeana ?

Only ornamental. It is a very beautiful plant, which looks great as an isolated specimen or in groups. Likewise, it is also worked as bonsai, although it is not easy as it requires special fertilizers to reduce the size of the leaves.

What did you think of this magnolia tree?

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