I Love Star Magnolias

Jan 7, 2017 | Love This!

Imagine: As you stare out your kitchen window you imagine how it would be to have a small tree centered in the yard so that you’ll see it in all seasons. “A specimen tree,” your friend suggested. You’ll place a bird feeder nearby so that you can watch this tree be festooned with bright red cardinals all winter. You’ll watch the silver, fat buds at the end of the branches bide their time until spring. Just as the daffodils come into bloom in the bed behind it, this tree will also burst into flower. White or pink blooms will cover this magnolia before the leaves appear, and every time you stand at your kitchen sink this small tree will lift your spirits.

A small tree placed in your lawn or flower border can be the perfect focal point. Site the tree so that you see it when looking out a frequently used window .

A small tree placed in your lawn or flower border can be the perfect focal point. Site the tree so that you see it when looking out a frequently used window .

Name: Magnolia stellata and M. stellata ‘Royal Star’ aka the star magnolia

Type of Plant: A small (usually under 20 feet) spring flowering tree that’s hardy in Zone 4-8. Sometimes grown with a single trunk and other times sold as a multi-stemmed large shrub.

Why I love this: Star magnolias are a good size for small yards in that they typically grow ten to twenty feet tall and eight to ten feet wide. They are one of the very first spring flowering trees to bloom, so they lift our spirits and raise our eyes from the often-bare ground early in the season.

In some areas star magnolias bloom in February or March, but in the Northeast they typically flower in Mid-April. Since they are often in bloom when the daffodils are flowering, use this as your guide.

There are pink-flowering varieties available as well, including Centennial Blush and M. stellate rosea. All of these Magnolias are relatively pest free.

A Word to the Wise:  The species (Magnolia stellata) is prone to opening flower buds a bit too early during warm spells in February and March. If you buy a M. stellata, plant it where it’s in a bit of afternoon shade to help prevent this from happening. The cultivar ‘Royal Star’ is less prone to early bud-break, however, so if you find that variety it is safer to plant in full sun.

Star magnolias do best with even levels of moisture through the summer season, so don’t place this tree in a dry garden.

This star magnolia is one of several at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, MA. Heritage is a great place to go to see mature trees so you'll know if a particular variety is appropriate for your property.

This star magnolia is one of several at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, MA. Heritage is a great place to go to see mature trees so you’ll know if a particular variety is appropriate for your property.

Star magnolias maintain a nicely shaped crown all on their own...no major pruning required other than the removal of dead wood and crossed  (rubbing) branches.

Star magnolias maintain a nicely shaped crown all on their own…no major pruning required other than the removal of dead wood and crossed (rubbing) branches.

This magnolia is named for the star-like flowers that appear in the very early spring.

This magnolia is named for the star-like flowers that appear in the very early spring.

 

12 Comments

  1. Debbie B.

    I love these! Can you recommend a place to purchase them in single-stem form? Many places only sell them as shrubs. I know they can be pruned, but when you start with a multi-stem shrub, there isn’t much you can do to form it into a small tree.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Debbie,
      Call your area nurseries and garden centers, if they don’t have them now, call again next spring.

      Reply
    • Anne Guelker

      8/21/21 Hi Debbie – here is a source for Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’ in 4″ pots. They have single and multiple stem plants. I have a photo of the plants which they sent to me but not sure how to include it here. Here is a link to the plant on their website. Great people to deal with. https://hirts.com/royal-star-magnolia-stellata-pure-white-very-hardy-4-pot/
      I could not copy and paste the link so I typed it. Hope this works for you. If you place an order, do specify that you want the single stem.

      Reply
      • CL Fornari

        Anne,
        Thanks for your reply to Debbie. Your comments weren’t deleted – they were just waiting for me to approve them. I have to have comments on approval or my blog fills up with spam offering discount drugs, sex toys and all other manner of non-garden related things. To prove to you that your comments weren’t deleted I am going to approve them all.

        Reply
    • Anne Guelker

      8/21/21 Debbie B. – I will try this again. My first reply was deleted. Please go to hirts.com. They offer ‘Royal Star’Magnolia in 4″ pots. They have both multi-stemmed and single stemmed plants. I have seen a photo of their inventory. If you order, just specify that you want single stemmed. Thank you.

      Reply
      • CL Fornari

        I’m sure that Debbie will appreciate this.

        Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Debbie – please note the new response from Anne about your question.

      Reply
  2. Anne Guelker

    8/21/21 I posted a response to Debbie B. here today with helpful information about where she could locate a single-stem Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star.’ My reply was marked that it would be moderated. In no time at all, my reply was deleted. I sent a subsequent reply in a similar format, and it has also been deleted. Don’t gardeners try to help other gardeners? I am puzzled by this situation.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      I explained this in the reply to your first comment. Forgive me, but I do not stand by my computer waiting to approve comments as they come in. I was out in the garden today! We harvested squash, tomatoes, eggplants, carrots, cucumbers and a twelve foot row of basil (thank you, Rutger’s hybrids basils!!) and then roasted the veggies to freeze, stripped the leaves off of the basil, and made pesto which is now in patties in the freezer. So you can understand that approving comments isn’t always on my radar until I clean the kitchen and sit down. Peace.

      Reply
      • Anne Guelker

        Understand. I suppose the replies have to “disappear” until they are moderated, although they do remain there for awhile. That is what was so confusing. I was eager to be helpful. How will Debbie B. know there is a response to her question? Thank you.

        Reply
        • CL Fornari

          Debbie should get a notice that people responded, but I will email here to be sure she sees your suggestion.

          Reply
  3. Anne Guelker

    Thank you very much.

    Reply

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