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Tulip Magnolia

Facts About the Tulip Magnolia Tree

The Tulip Magnolia Tree is a marvelous tree planted for its ornamental value.  Its scientific name is Magnolia Soulangiana.  It’s often also called the Saucer Magnolia due to the saucer shape of its flowers.  There are several varieties, but they are all very spectacular and similar in growing characteristics.  This tree is deciduous, meaning that it loses its leaves and hibernates during the winter, with new buds of leaves and flowers forming each spring.

This tree prefers southern and warm climates that receives plenty of rainfall each year.  In many southern yards, the tulip magnolia stands as an anchor plant and center piece of the landscape.  The reason that this tree is not found in more northern climates is that it flowers early in the spring before the leaves unfurl.  These early and beautiful flowers are very susceptible to frost.  A late frost will kill the flowers, but not necessarily the tree, but the flowers are the main reason for wanting this tree in your yard in the first place.

The blossoms of the Tulip Magnolia are four to eight inches long or even more.  The flowers are tulip shaped and that is where the tree gets its name.  The flowers are showy and the petals will be light pink to purple.  The leaves are also very large ranging in size from four to six inches long.  They form in a bud and then unfurl after the tree has blossomed at nearly their full size.  The leaves are green on top and more pale and fuzzy underneath.  The flower buds are fairly large, whereas the leaf buds will be smaller and fuzzy.

The Tulip Magnolia tree has multiple trunks and has low branches.  The low branches and multiple trunks make this tree a favorite for kids to climb.  The bark is fairly smooth and has a mottled gray color to it.  It grows to a height of about 20 to 30 feet.  Experts advise home owners to trim the tree to keep it under 20 feet.  Trimming and pruning allows you to shape the tree as well as better manage its growth before it becomes overgrown.  It also will keep your kids from climbing to even greater heights. 

The tree will grow at a moderate rate and it likes moist soil that drains well, where its roots can grow deep.  It can tolerate moderately acidic soil and fertilizer is rarely needed.  It also prefers to grow in a location with full sun in hardiness zones 4-9.  The tree’s roots are fleshy and grow deep in search of water.  This makes the tree difficult to successfully transplant.

The tree has no autumn color to speak of, but the amazing colors of the spring blossoms more than make up for that.  It bears a non-edible fruit that is shaped a little like a cone.  The fruit matures in late summer.  During that time, even though the fruit is not something you can enjoy, you can definitely enjoy the shade.  The leaves are ample and large which will provide you plentiful shade to enjoy your days.

It’s best to plant this tree as part of a total landscaping plan.  It should not be planted in an area where other trees or plants will take away its glory.  This tree begs to be fully visible in order to show off its colorful flowers and large leaves.  It should be planned to be a centerpiece or to be placed at a fence corner.  Also consider that this tree will offer shade below it.  You can use it to shade a less sun tolerant flower garden that will compliment the stateliness of the tree.  You could also use the shade as a place to sit and enjoy your landscape.



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