Our plant of the month is the Magnolia! Huge, lush Magnolia trees are a hallmark of any southern yard design, and they are blooming all over right now. Magnolias have wide, waxy leaves that offer ample shade, and their large flowers are beautiful and fragrant. You’ve certainly seen them, and are probably familiar with their distinctive blooms. They are also extremely hearty, and they have an interesting role in history.
Magnolias are one of the oldest flowering plants. Being over 100 million years old, they existed before bees. They produce pollen, not nectar, so they rely on beetles for pollination. Ancient Asian civilizations cultivated various types of Magnolias for therapeutic and symbolic purposes. The Magnolia even plays its own part in U.S. history! Andrew Jackson planted two Southern Magnolias in the White House gardens in honor of his wife. They still stand there today as the oldest trees at the White House.
The flowers of Magnolias are extremely large, and their velvety petals are thick and soft. They are closely related to the lotus plant, so their flowers have some similarities. Magnolia flowers can be enjoyed indoors by cutting the flower right at the base, where it attaches to the leaves and branch and then floating it in a shallow bowl of water. They remain fragrant and beautiful for a long time before wilting.
Placement of magnolias is the most important factor to consider when you’re choosing whether or not to add one to your backyard landscape design. The canopy can grow up to forty feet in diameter, so they need plenty of space. Different varieties of Magnolia need different amounts of sun. Evergreen ones prefer full sun whereas deciduous varieties like partial shade. A reliable landscape designer will help you choose a cultivar that is perfect for your space.
One of the reasons Magnolias are popular is because they are durable and easy to care for. They are able to tolerate high temperatures and are also drought-resistant, so they are an excellent choice for Gainesville landscaping. Magnolias rarely need pruning other than for aesthetic purposes or to remove crossed branches, and as long as they are flowering well, they don’t require fertilization. Once established, these low-maintenance plants can provide shade, a powerful aroma, and lots of southern charm for centuries to come.