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TREES & Plants

Star Magnolia

The star magnolia is a small, compact  ornamental tree grown for its early spring flowers. Opening in early spring before the leaves unfurl, the flowers are cluster of white petals sometimes touched with pink. Because they bloom so early, they are vulnerable to damage by late spring frosts in the Midwest. Star magnolia is best planted in a sheltered location such as near a patio, an entryway or in a shrub border.

 

Botanical name: 
Magnolia stellata
All Common Names: 
Star Magnolia
Family (English): 
Magnolia
Family (Botanic): 
Magnoliaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (foliage falls off)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant
  • Pink
  • White
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Multi-stemmed
  • Rounded
  • Spreading
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Mixed border
  • Patio/sidewalk
Time of Year: 
  • Early spring
More Information: 

Size & form

A small tree or large shrub which grows 15 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide.
Shape is rounded to oval, densely compact, with a twiggy branching habit.

Tree & Plant Care

Grows best in full sun, well-drained, organic rich moist soil.
Shallow roots benefit with a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperature and conserve moisture.
Avoid extremely windy sites.
Minimal pruning required.

Disease, pests, and problems

Chlorosis in high pH soils, magnolia scale, early frost damage, powdery mildew

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan.

Bark color and texture 

Young plants have a smooth, shiny chestnut brown bark turing a silvery gray bark with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, 2 to 4 inch long elliptic leaves.
Saucer magnolias leaves are dense and smaller than other magnolias. 
New leaves emerge with a bronze cast turning to a medium green and yellow-brown fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Very showy, fragrant white flower with a pink tinge.
Solitary, each flower has 12 to 18 petals (tepals) and is 3 to 4 inches across.
Flowers before leaves emerge.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Mature 2 inch fruit is a knobby cluster (aggragate) that opens to reveal reddish-orange seeds.

Cultivars and their differences 

‘Centennial’  (Magnolia stellata 'Centennial'):  Small-size, upright, pyramidal tree; has numerous, large white flowers with pink tinge

‘Rosea’ (Magnolia stellata 'Rosea'):  This cultivar has an oval to round shape with a dense, bushy habit.  Pink buds open to fragrant, light pink, star-like flowers.  This plant flowers in late April which is later than the species.

‘Royal Star’ (Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star'):  oval to round shape; flowers later than species; star-shaped fragrant, white flowers