Virtues: We love the saucer magnolia tree (Magnolia ×soulangeana) for its tulip-like spring flowers, small size, bold leaves and ease of care.
Common name: Saucer magnolia
Botanical name: Magnolia ×soulangeana
Flowers: Showy, fragrant white to pink cup-shaped 5-inch flowers appear in early to mid-spring, before leaf out.
Foliage: Large oval leaves, dark green in summer and yellowish in fall. Fall color is brief and not striking.
Habit: Deciduous tree to 30 feet tall and wide. May have multiple trunks, or the branches start low on one main trunk. Bark is smooth and silvery.
Season: Spring, for flowers. A good small shade tree in summer. Pale bark, spreading, open form and large, fuzzy flower buds make this tree pretty in winter.
Origin: A cross between two Chinese magnolias, M. denudata and M. liliifllora.
Cultivation: Grow in moist, fertile soil in full sun to part shade. Full sun promotes the best bloom. Fairly adaptable to soil and pollution. Problems include late frosts ruining flowers and heavy snow breaking the uppermost limbs. USDA Zones 4–9.
Bottom image attribution.
Top image attribution.
Get a low-cost guide to common tree-care tasks.
Take an online course in gardening.
Save on great gardening products throughout the year and get a bunch of free gifts with your Horticulture Garden Rewards membership.