With the much anticipated warm weather’s arrival we have been seeing the familiar blooms of Magnolia trees in and around Westchester County. Magnolias (Magnolia spp.) are a diverse group of flowering trees known for their robust and fragrant blossoms. Although their are many species of Magnolias only a few are commonly used in landscape design. They are, however, among the most popular species for creating a focal point in a landscape.
When it comes to landscape selection there are 3 main types of Magnolias. One species is a Native North American and the other two are Asian in origin. All of these species feature a dark green leaf that grow in excess 10″ in length. The trees have an overall tropical look to them which is part of the reason that they have grown to be so popular over time. Their cone-like seed structure is also a visually appealing feature of the Magnolia which ripens to a bright reddish color come fall.
North American Magnolias
The Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is definitely the most commonly planted of the three but there are several species of magnolia that are native to the eastern United States as well. The Southern magnolia is a stately evergreen tree with large white blooms and they are surely equal in beauty to the Asian variety. However the flowers appear several months later than the Asian. One of the many reasons that you see these gorgeous trees everywhere is their unusual ability to grow in both sun and shade environments and are adapted to most soil types (with the exception of overly wet soil conditions). It is certainly a great idea to enrich the soil with compost while transplanting these trees but they are extremely resilient and will grow just about anywhere!
This variety of Magnolia became very popular due to their smaller sizes and early spring blooms of gorgeous flowers. Some of the blossoms even appear before the beautiful leaves reach full potential! They quickly became known for their ornamental vale and they were the perfect “patio” tree that can even be grown in large decorative planters. A huge difference between the North American Magnolia and the Asian variety is the Asians need full sun and very rich soil to reach their peek bloom. A huge plus for the Asian variety is that they are practically immune to most pests and typical disease problems! However, powdery mildew may occasionally infect these beauties. A great way to combat this is to rake the leaves each fall to help keep the disease stay under control.