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March Resilient Plant

Monday, March 11, 2019
by Josh Steger | Director of Horticulture

Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata

This month we’re enjoying Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata). Native to Japan, the Star Magnolia is a stunning specimen shrub for early spring.

Highly adaptable, this specimen can be grown as a tree or shrub.  How do you do this? The Star Magnolia is entirely versatile based on what the gardener chooses. For example, you could do little to no pruning so it grows into its natural form. Or if you’re looking to have more of a vertical tree like specimen, prune off the lower limbs right after it blooms.

If your Magnolia is young enough you should be able to train it into a tree after one growing season. If it’s an older specimen, it could take a few years to form into a tree. Taking off too many branches will stress out any tree, so be sure to take your time with your Star Magnolia. Star Magnolia shrubs grows 7 to 8 feet all around.  When Star Magnolia is grown as a tree, it grows about 10 to 15 feet high. Star Magnolia grows best in slightly acidic, moist soil and needs at least 5-6 hours of full sun per day. Full sun is also ideal for spectacular blooms.

The best thing about this specimen is it’s early bloom time and beautiful blooms.  The Star Magnolia produces 3-4 inch creamy white flowers in April before any of the foliage comes around. This is one of the earliest flowering shrubs for our zone 5 landscape.  These flowers give off a great aroma to attract early Garden visitors and pollinators.

One more thing! If you’re looking to bring a little freshness and interest to your space, Star Magnolia is an excellent choice for forced branches. We generally do some winter pruning in late January and mid February when temperatures are starting warm up a bit. Trim off a few branches of your magnolia and set them in a vase of water. Adding a little bleach to your water will inhibit bacteria from growing, that way your cutting(s) will remain healthy. Your branch should bloom within 2 to 3 weeks.

Magonlia stellata made our list of resiliency for several reasons.  First, it can be grown as a shrub or tree based on the gardeners choosing and will flourish either way. Second, it’s one of the first specimens to bloom in a space; providing freshness, color and a source of food for early pollinators. Lastly, it can grow in full to part sun locations in zones 4-9.  If you’re looking to give Star Magnolia a try, we recommend getting one from Bruce Company in Middleton, WI. You will be glad you did!


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Tags: Garden Display and Design, Exhibits, Green Initiatives

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Madison WI 53706

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