How to grow them

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - Blossom Beauty -

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.

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