Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, November  2017
 Magnolia stellata - by Heather Smith

Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia) from Japan is a lovely shrub/tree with large showy multi-petalled flowers, white and, rarely, pink.

This was one of the first plants I bought for my garden and it was doing fine until a builder, doing some work for me, plonked heavy stuff on top of it. This broke the leader and squashed the rest.  Years later I am still wondering if I should replace it or not. However it flowers beautifully and reliably every April.

I find it fully hardy and, as I have slightly acid soil, Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia do well. M. stellata will also do in neutral soil and likes it moist and well-drained. It is generally very easy.

It flowers on bare branches in spring and sporadically during summer with the foliage appearing later. 


Cutting back is best done after flowering before the next year's flowerbuds develop. It can be propagated with root cuttings but seed is difficult.
This Magnolia comes from Japan and has been grown here for 140 years and there are cultivars but the species plant is stunningly beautiful. 

I have only seen photographs of the pink one but think I prefer the snowy-white.

Mine would be taller and a better shape were it not for the accident and, as a tree, can reach 10 feet and as a shrub can be as wide. So it needs some space.  It deserves its space.