It would be hard to find a more spectacular flowering shrub or tree than the Magnolia. The older soulangeana (also spelt soulangiana) varieties herald the end of winter with their stunning mass display of purple and white flowers on the bare branches.
In small gardens there is always a place for the bushy star-flowering stellata varieties, the tulip-shaped liliiflora varieties or one of the eight "Little Girls" which are crosses between these two.
Once the newer hybrids such as the deep purple-red Magnolia x 'Vulcan' or the clear pink Magnolia x 'Star Wars' (pictured on right) become established in gardens and produce their magnificent spring displays, they will be in great demand.
Magnolias love well drained soil, rich in organic matter. A good feed of organic fertiliser is spring is very beneficial as is a thick layer of mulch. They prefer a slightly acid soil.
They have very few pests, but snails and slugs love the foliage. Occasionally scale may be found on the branches. In wet springs, the leaves often suffer from leaf spot. Preventative spraying with a copper fungicide should help, but sometimes it is easier to remove the worst affected leaves.
Magnolias are best when grown in a sunny position; too much shade will cause leggy growth and poor flowering. It is best to avoid a very windy position as the flowers, especially the large one, can bruise very easily. The evergreen varieties prefer protection from icy winter winds