Michelia alba or champaca?

tolip(Tropical)May 10, 2013

Which do you prefer? And why?

Which one is a bigger plant?

Like to get some input from you before buying. Thanks

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Buy both!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 6:54AM
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Of the two, which one has a better fragrance? Which one is smaller, comparatively? I have limited space and would prefer a smaller plant.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 8:49AM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Hi Tolip!

I've read conflicting info about which smells better which is not surprising since scent preference is personal.
I've also read that M. alba is better suited for pot culture since it remains smaller but both are trees so both will eventually get large.

I like Clare's info about M. champaca I found on Dave's:

I grow two of these trees in containers, and one of them bloomed at only 8 feet tall this year. The fragrance of the flowers is best appreciated by not putting your nose directly in the flower. The scent is strong and intense and reminds me of incense with an East Indian flavor. The leaves look terrible between the end of summer and the beginning of winter as they go through their annual leaf shed. Monrovia and other growers call this tree an evergreen, but I think it should be labeled as semi-deciduous. In the spring, the tree redeems itself with new lush leaves and new growth.

The "neutral" rating is because of the condition of the leaves for half of the year and for the unusual fragrance of the flowers. The Michelia Alba, however, I would give a positive rating to because the fragrance is sweet and wonderful, and the leaves don't have the same tendency to brown and shed.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 9:10AM
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I have both since last summer and they grow at about the same rate, maybe alba is somewhat faster at some periods because champaca does some strange things with the leaves ..They both get spider mites which are difficult to get rid of in the champaca because of the fuzzines of its leaves...I so hope they bloom this summer!!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 10:18AM
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I have both as well i find Alba the easier plant to grow and seems to stay smaller and more compact for me! well compact for what is a tree :P i can not compare flower fragrance as my champaca has not flowered yet! be aware champaca if grown from seed can take up to 8 -10 years before it flowers

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 11:06AM
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I have both plants. I don't know the fragance of the champaca yet because it is still small my plant is from a cutting. So, I hope it will flower quickly for me. And about the alba I have two of them one is about 6 ft. tall and the other is about 3 ft. tall they both have flowers for me. So for right now I enjoy the albas.
Savy 4

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 4:30PM
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No-Clue(So Cal Zone 9)

I also have both (actually I have 3 Albas and 1 Champaca). Strangely enough all 3 Albas are blooming but the Champaca has no buds? All 4 trees are about the same height...so I am hoping Champaca will bloom this summer so I can compare.

But so far I am absolutely in love with my Albas. So much so that I went back and bought two more. Even though our landscaping is not done and I have only placed the plants where I would like the men to plant (they are planting this Monday) every neighbor who walked by mentioned that my roses smelled great. Since none of them have ever seen or heard of Alba they just assumed that it was the roses. It's amazing how one little blossom can waft so far!

When in doubt buy them all! :)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:42AM
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kemistry(8 - Oregon)

Get michelia alba if you only have space for one plant. Though, once you get to smell the flowers of michelia alba, i'm sure you'll make room for a champaca. Lol.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 5:04AM
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No-Clue(So Cal Zone 9)

Kemistry is correct. Once sniff you might have to make room for more! I actually don't have the room but I have 4 plants. I am hoping that "slow grower" really means YEARS before they get big! Oh well life is too short I want to enjoy them now and not worry too much about the space issue. Besides the minute I bought over 90 plumerias... I went way beyond the space limit so what's another 4 LARGE trees? LOL

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:22PM
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musaboru(Inland Calif.)

Short answer: Michelia alba is what you want.

Most champacas are seed-grown and will have at least some slight genetic variations being seed-grown. I've read some champacas will smell better than others according to LongRiver (a member here). But seed grown champacas will take years to flower.

Michelia alba is always propagated by air layering or grafting so plants of this variety all share the same genetic material, they all share the same heavenly fragance. It does well in container and the scent is so great you just have to get it anyway even if you have to bonsai it for pot culture.

Sidenote: Oh, How I long for the legendary ClareCA to return. I wonder what sorts of fragrant plants she is growing now.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Hi everyone,

I just bought a michelia champaca again. But this time the tree is about 6 feet tall. And it is about three years old. I hope it give me some blooms by next year.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 5:13PM
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