Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, Liam, Plants, Trees

From Stellata to Grandiflora: Magnolias Explained

japanese magnolia


Magnolias are one of the world’s oldest flowering plants still in existence today with relatives dating back over 95 million years. Today they are still adored across the world for their bountiful blooms and overall ornamental charm. All magnolias produce flowers, some of the finest flowers of any tree, but some varieties have key differences. Magnolias, depending on the variety, can be deciduous or evergreen and both have their unique benefits when helping you achieve your dream outdoor aesthetic. Read along to discover which variety is best suited to your garden!

Despite being forests being the home of magnolias, it is  a tree which has adapted remarkably well to urban environments. However, magnolias vary significantly in size so it’s essential you pick the right one to perfectly fit your outdoor space. M. susan, for example,  is a fantastic little specimen that grows to a mature height of 2.5-4m which is a perfect size for the front garden along a driveway. Conversely, M. grandiflora gallisoniensis is a tree of awesome magnitude, reaching a height of 10m and from July through to September will be covered in huge white sweetly scented flowers. This tree will become a centerpiece to even the larger sized gardens.

Deciduous MagnoliaDeciduous magnolia in bloom

Deciduous Magnolias bring their own distinct beauty which more than compensates for its bare months. The flowers for these varieties tend to bloom slightly before or just as the leaves begin to emerge. For this reason there can be beautiful colour contrasts between the bright flowers and the silver bark invoking conceptions of life, death and rebirth. If you have happened to spot a magnolia in passing and are not sure whether it is deciduous or evergreen the easy way to tell is to see whether the leaves are completely uncurled or not. Additionally these deciduous varieties offer superb autumn displays so there is a wide range of varying tones to be enjoyed throughout the seasons. The deciduous magnolias we sell are; M. Susan, M. Soulangeana and M. Stellata.

Evergreen Magnoliaevergreen magnolia

Evergreen magnolias are fantastic to add some vibrant colour all year-round. Their broad ovate leaves are a deep, emerald green with a pale green or rust-red shade on the underside. Evergreens tend to need warmer conditions as they originate from the Gulf Coast of the southern states of America. They will only do well in more mild areas of the country that do not experience prolonged periods of subfreezing temperatures. The evergreen varieties we sell are; M. grandiflora gallisoniensis and M. grandiflora little gem.

magnolia grandiflora with flower

Grandiflora Magnolia

Grandiflora is a word that tends to pop up in the vibrant world of botany, especially with magnolias. Its literal translation from Latin means ‘great flower’ and is simply a name given to those plants that have exceptionally large flowers. Grandiflora magnolias usually carry a sweet, lemon-like scent and can be as large as nearly a foot in diameter!

There are several forms which have bred from M. grandiflora since it was brought over to Europe in 1726 from the Gulf Coast of North America. All grandiflora magnolias are evergreen and as such to achieve the most profuse blossoms they will require a mild temperate climate. Providing that they can rival the most spectacular flower display of any tree around!

If you’re a Magnolia fan then you should head over to the Magnolia category on our website where we have a fantastic selection of both evergreen and deciduous magnolia along with several grandiflora to choose from.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pastime is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

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