How to grow them
Climate Deciduous magnolias like a chilly, moist winter followed by a warm (but not too hot) summer. They thrive in south-eastern parts of Australia as long as winters are cool enough to induce dormancy, and they can be wellwatered through hot summer weather. They’re not a plant for tropical or sub-tropical areas.
Aspect Magnolias thrive in full sun, but they’ll also grow well in the filtered shade beneath large old trees. Avoid planting in areas which are deeply shaded. Also, try to avoid wind-exposed locations, as strong winds can damage or destroy the flowers and break the finer branches. Soil They prefer an organically enriched soil which holds moisture but also drains well. A slightly acid soil is ideal, but magnolias will also tolerate alkaline soils that contain plenty of humus (compost and manure). At planting, dig a wide hole and add a blend of compost and rotted manure to the excavated soil before returning it to the hole. Once they’re established, they resent root disturbance so avoid the urge to transplant trees.
Water Newly planted trees need regular watering, until they become well established. Mature trees will tolerate dry spells, but they’re
not really drought-tolerant plants. Water every week or two during dry periods through spring and summer, and apply a 5cm layer of mulch around the base to help retain soil moisture.
Fertiliser If you prepare the soil well before planting, with additions of manure and compost, a young tree will not need additional feeding for the first year. Give established magnolias an annual feeding in spring, using a controlled-release fertiliser for trees and shrubs. As summer approaches, apply a scattering of manure over the soil and top with a layer of compost mulch. Water in well.
The star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) has a more shrubby form, so is great for small gardens.
The lily magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora) has narrow, upright blooms, reddishpurple on the outside, opening to deep pink.
Make a springtime scene with pink on white, for a coconut-ice look! Try this pairing of a pink magnolia against a white ornamental pear tree.
Up close and personal, you can see by their form magnolias belong to one of the most ancient groups of flowering plants.