Landscape Feature: Star Magnolia

Landscape Feature: Star Magnolia
Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’

 Early Spring Color

Star magnolia, or Magnolia stellata,  is a beautiful sight in early spring. Throughout winter it’s fat, fuzzy flower buds are evident. As the soil warms, they gradually swell and break open to reveal the stark white or pink flushed petals inside. When fully in bloom, the star magnolia offers a striking display of flowers on seemingly every branch tip, and a mildly sweet scent that graces the nearby landscape.

Summer foliage of the star magnolia is medium green and held rather densely. In fall, the leaves change to a bronze-yellow before dropping. In winter the bare twigs hold the tight fuzzy buds at their tips until the first warm days of spring arrive.

Landscape Feature: Star Magnolia
Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’

Size and Use

Very slowly attaining fifteen to twenty feet in height and ten to fifteen feet wide, it may be considered a large shrub rather than a tree. Ours was three feet tall when I planted it eight years ago. It is not yet six feet. Because of the slow growth rate and large potential size, it works best as a specimen/focal plant or in a mixed shrub border.  It is particularly well suited for small landscapes.

Landscape Feature: Star Magnolia
Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’

Range and Culture

This magnolia is not unique to the south. A native of Japan, Magnolia stellata is hardy in zones 4-9, performing beautifully in the north and south alike. It is quite flexible in it’s sunlight requirements, working very well in sunny or dappled shade environments. Star magnolia performs best in well drained, acidic soil with a well mulched root zone to maintain consistency in soil moisture and temperature. Prune, if necessary, immediately after blooming.

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