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Plant of the Month: Japanese Magnolia

By Alice Marty, Mobile County Master Gardener

From late winter to spring, a number of blossoming trees contribute to brighten our surroundings. The Japanese magnolia is perhaps the loveliest of them all.

The saucer magnolia Magnolia x soulangeana, also known as the Japanese magnolia, tulip tree, or star magnolia releases its large, hairy bloom buds in February or March, well before the leaves appear.  It is deciduous in contrast to the native Magnolia grandiflora found in the Southern states that keeps its leaves year-round. The blooms really stand out on the leafless branches in the winter landscape.

Large and striking, the blossoms are available in a range of hues, including white, rose-purple, lavender-pink, dark reddish purple, and pale yellow. The petal's outermost surface is the brightest color, while its interior is typically a creamy white tone. The size of the flowers varies from roughly 4 to 6 inches across.

The trees generally grow to be about 15 to 25 feet tall with a spread of 10 to 15 feet.

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