Plant Profile: Saucer Magnolias


Magnolia x soulangeana is commonly known as the Saucer Magnolia and is also known by some as the Tulip Magnolia. It is a deciduous hybrid magnolia that is a landscape show-stopper. The stunning cup-shaped blossoms open from late February to April, with some blossoms reappearing throughout the summer months and even into winter.

The saucer magnolia is hardy to Zones 4–9 and does especially well in our Mid-Atlantic region. It grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet, but it can be trained as either a shrub, a small tree with multiple stems, or a single-trunk tree.

Plant it in full sun for best flowering results. It can take most all soils conditions. It has some drought –and pollution-tolerance. It does need some protection in areas with cold winters for the first couple of years.

The only drawback to this early season tree is that a late frost can sometimes impact the flowers and cause them to brown and drop off prematurely.

It is related to our native Southern Magnolia and was first cultivated in 1826. New introductions include the “Little Girl series” from the U.S. National Arboretum. In my own garden, I have ‘Jane’, which has dark pink exterior and white interior.

My favorite grove of Saucer Magnolias is at the Enid Haupt garden at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. The trees line the main formal garden and put on a show that rivals the famous Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms. It is the perfect spot to enjoy lunch outdoors on an early spring day.

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Allison O'Reilly.

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