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Star Magnolia

Star Magnolia

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) in Kew Gardens, England. (Emőke Dénes (Wikipedia Commons))

In a previous program I praised my Sweet Bay Magnolia, and it has since occurred to me that its neighbor in my garden, a sweet little Star Magnolia with the botanical name of Magnolia stellata, may be jealous. So I’ve decided I should tell you about her.

Actually, she should have been mentioned first, as she blooms first each year, usually in early April, and that is obviously something that captures my attention.

This really dainty magnolia is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and matures slowly to 15-20 feet in height and width. But mine is nowhere near that size and is possibly twenty years old. It may be a bit cramped by its neighbors.

It grows best in full sun to partial shade and is not fussy about soils. It can grow as a shrub or small tree with multiple trunks. It makes a wonderful specimen as an accent in the spring garden and needs to be easily visible from the house, as it blooms so early.

The flowers are white and slightly fragrant, and they appear before the tree leafs out, so they contrast with the grey bark. The petals of the flowers are somewhat loose, so I always think of my Stella’s flowers as having a slightly disheveled look, which adds to her charm.

This star magnolia is certainly a spring “star” but fades into the adjacent greenery a bit once her precocious flowers fade away.

Reference: Landscaping with Trees in the Midwest by Scott Zanon.

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