Gardening Guru Tip of the Week – Magnolias

We welcome our resident gardening guru Geoff Stebbings from www.thebikinggardener.com with his weekly tip for what we should be doing in our garden this week.

Spring means magnolias. They have the largest flowers of any trees and the fact that most bloom in spring, before the leaves appear, makes them even more spectacular.

Unfortunately, the early flowers can be damaged by strong, cold winds and late frosts and some can be tricky to please. And it is a shame that the most spectacular of all, the huge Magnolia campbellii, with flowers like pink lettuces on towering trees, is the most difficult of all to please, only thriving in mild climates in moist, acid soils.

But there are magnolias that are easier to please. The best for beginners is Magnolia stellata which is a bushy, small tree that has masses of starry, fragrant, white flowers. Although the blooms are small, they open over several weeks so even if a cold snap spoils the open flowers there are usually more to come so you can be sure of a display every spring. It is not as fussy as most about soil and will thrive in sun or part shade.

Magnolia soulangeana is the most popular of all magnolias and again is easy to please. But it is a large plant in time and it is difficult to prune magnolias without spoiling their shape so place them carefully – not in front of your lounge window!

Secrets of success
Most magnolias prefer a deep, rich, moist soil and full sun or a little shade.

Most like an acid soil but Magnolia soulangeana, Magnolia stellata and many modern hybrids including ‘Susan’ will tolerate a little lime in the soil.

Avoid windy, exposed parts of the garden.

Very dry, sandy soils in full sun or soils that are waterlogged in winter will not be suitable.

You can find Geoff at his daily talks at the Allianz Garden Show Ireland this year which takes place at Antrim Castle Gardens from 5th – 7th May.


Catch up on Geoff’s other tips from this series:

Gardening Guru Tip of the Week – Hellebores

Gardening Guru Tip of the Week – Pruning

Gardening Guru Tip of the Week – Seed Sowing

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