The Star Magnolia tree, that delicate, ethereal, cold-hardy cousin of the traditional southern Magnolia will light up any yard. Early to bloom, this smallish tree provides color to otherwise barren gardenscapes. The Star Magnolia grows slowly and only achieves a height of 10-20ft and a breath of 8-15 ft at maturity. Suitable for zones 5-9, the Star Magnolia froths with delicate 3″ white flowers, each composed of about 20 ribbon-like petals. After it blooms, the petals are replaced by oval, dark-green leaves.
The Star Magnolia is best planted in a sheltered (north side) location visible from the house. This tree prefers full sun to partial shade and rich, moist, well-drained soil. Plant a Star Magnolia early in the season as soon as the soil can be worked. As you would with any tree, set the root ball in a predug hole about 3 times the width of the ball. Set the tree in the hole so that the top of the root ball is about 1-2″ above ground level. Build a dam about 4″ high around the tree and fill the basin with water. Mulch around the base of the tree to help regulate the ground temperate. Water lightly every day for the first week, every other day the second week, and once a week for the third and fourth week. After that time, the tree should only be watered on weeks when there is no natural rainfall.
To maintain your Star Magnolia, prune broken branches and awkward or crossed branches in the early spring.
Evergreens are nice partners to the Star Magnolia tree. Their green leaves make a pleasing backdrop to the delicate white magnolia leaves. Evergreens also help protect the Star Magnolia from wind damage.
Star Magnolia trees are widely available at local garden centers or via mail from nurseries such as Spring Hill Nursery www.springhillnursery.com.