There are numerous reasons for growing magnolias. Magnolia flowers are not only extremely attractive, but even the trees bearing them are equally stately. Even when the trees are not in bloom, they are charming and have a poise that is difficult to explain in words, but definitely magnificent. There are other beautiful plants bearing attractive flowers such as some orchids, but they are not easy to grow. Contrary to this, magnolias can be grown easily, as their requirements are less and very simple. According to Ernest Wilson, the noted British plant hunter of the 20th century, magnolias not only flower very freely and bear wonderful blooms as well as foliage, they can be cultivated with equal ease. This probably explains why so many people grow magnolias.
Over the years several new varieties that grow to smaller heights have been introduced. As a result, today magnolias can also be grown in small gardens - at least one plant can be grown with ease provided you select the variety with care. If you have just enough space in your garden to grow one Magnolia grandiflora, an evergreen magnolia, which is commonly known as southern magnolia, you can take delight in their exquisite flowers for several months in a year.
Precisely speaking, magnolias are among the most ancient flowering trees that mankind has known. These trees are found growing in abundance in North America, Central America and the West Indies. The Southern Magnolia or the Magnolia grandiflora is one of the most popular trees of this genus and it is found growing naturally in North America. This majestic tree may often grow up to a height of 50 feet.
Magnolia flowers come in a number of hues - white, purple or pink. Each bloom may measure anything between 3 inches and 12 inches across. The petals of a number of Magnolia flowers are strap shaped, subject to the species. Magnolia seeds remain viable for several years; in some cases they may remain inactive for as many as 15 years to 20 years! The blooms of Magnolia are protogynous in nature. In other words, the flowers appear before or together with the leaves. Each Magnolia flower has about nine to 15 tepals (undifferentiated petals and sepals). The stamens of Magnolia flowers are found on extended torus and are early deciduous, while the filaments are extremely short and may be white or purple. The anthers of the flowers are introrse (facing inward) or latrorse (opening toward the side).
Magnolia has been honoured as the official state flower in Louisiana and Mississippi. In fact, Mississippi has been nicknamed as the "Magnolia State". On the other hand, often Houston is known as "The Magnolia City". This is primarily owing to the fact that several Magnolia trees are found growing the length of Buffalo Bayou.
Magnolia flowers do not have any genuine petal or sepal - they are composed of tepals (sepals and petals in unison). In addition, the blossoms of Magnolia also do not produce true nectar. On the contrary, they produce large quantities of pollens.
The fruits of Magnolia are cone-shaped and have a reddish-brown hue. The seeds of these fruits are kidney-shaped and red in color. The seeds ripen some time between the middle and end of autumn.
In Chinese medicine, the flower buds and bark of the species named Magnolia officinalis have been used for long to treat various heath conditions. The bark and flower buds of Magnolia possess anti-angiogenic and anti-anxiety properties. On the other hand, people in different areas in Japan use the leaves of Magnolia obovata to wrap foods.
As discussed earlier, it is very easy to look after Magnolia trees, as their requirements are few as well as simple. The Magnolia Society International says that once the Magnolia trees establish themselves, they need very little care. Nevertheless, like many other trees, Magnolias also require some amount of care with a view to flourish optimally.
While growing Magnolias, especially a Southern Magnolia, you should preferably let the trees grow in a manner that their lower branches hang down to the ground. When you do this, it will help to conceal the leaves and they can fall freely on the ground and subsequently decompose to provide the trees with additional nutrients. Then again, you may also cut back the lower branches to enable you to mow the ground beneath the tree. It all depends on your choice.
If it is essential to prune the trees, undertake the task after their flowering season. In case you want your Magnolia tree to grow having a specific shape, do the necessary pruning while the plants are young, but again after they have finished blossoming. Pruning old or mature Magnolia trees will actually harm the plant, as they do not heal properly after pruning.
In case the tree is growing any root that is beginning to encircle the plant, cut it immediately. Water the Magnolia trees only if you feel that there might be a dry spell or drought. You should never water Magnolias in any other situation. Magnolias also do not require to be fed, so don't fertilize them.
If you wish to give good care to your Magnolias, you should do so by selecting the right spot to plant them. In case you are a beginner, you need to select a suitable place where the Magnolia tree will not endure floods at any time. In fact, Magnolia trees grow best when planted in acidic soils. Ensure that the spot you select to grow a Magnolia is large enough to provide the tree with adequate space to flourish even when it is mature. Always remember that a Magnolia tree has the potential to grow up to a height of 100 feet.
Magnolias shed their leaves during the summer. If you are concerned about debris in your garden, you can get rid of these dead leaves. Alternatively, you may collect them in a specific spot in your garden and later used the leaves to mulch the Magnolia tree itself.
Ideally, you should plant the bulb of a Magnolia tree during late summer - the period when Magnolias regenerate naturally. Before planting the bulb, dig a planting hole that is at least twice or thrice of the bulb's size. Subsequently, position the bulb in the hole along with some mulch in such a manner that the layer of the mulch is about 6 inches higher than the Magnolia bulb.
In case you want to grow a good Magnolia tree that will offer cover as well as privacy for your entire property or at least the front yard, you should plant vigorous Magnolia trees along the boundary of your property at a small distance from one another. When they mature, the stout Magnolias will not only serve as sentinels, but also provide your home with the correct or desired amount of elevated bush cover on all sides. In addition to providing shade and cover, the flowers of some of these trees will also make your yard perfumed when there is mild breeze during the spring.
The leaves of Magnolia are large and leather-like and you need to collect them and put them in a bag as soon as they fall on the ground. As the leaves have a fibrous texture, the leaves of Magnolia usually do not make very good compost. If you allow the dropped leaves to remain below the trees, they will take a long time to be converted into somewhat good compost. On the other hand, these dead leaves may cover the roots of the tree and host insects and diseases that may eventually be detrimental for the health of the Magnolia trees. As the Magnolia trees are evergreen, they will shed their leaves from time to time all through the year.
It is advisable that you do not plant your Magnolias too close to any structure. However, if they are already growing close to any structure, you will be required to prune their roots from time to time with a view to stop them from becoming tangled and choking themselves. You should take special care to prune the roots that seem to be surrounding other roots. In case the leaves are allowed to grow naturally, they may ultimately kill the tree, as they will suffocate other roots, thereby diminishing the nutrient supplies to the tree.
You should never stress yourself while growing Magnolias, whether you are growing your first or the 100th tree. Always remember that Magnolias require very little care provided they are given enough space and nutrients.