magnolia in northern CO? ! ?

skeatingApril 9, 2005

I was walking today and saw a beautiful shrub unlike any I have seen. It's in full bloom but doesn't have any leaves out yet. The petals are pure white and narrow, and the blooms had a very spicy exotic fragrance. At first I thought it was a tree peony but I think it is a magnolia.

Anyone out there growing magnolias in z4? I didn't think they would take here. The shrub is living in a poorly maintained garden so I don't think it's being coddled. Could I have mis-identified this plant? I found a photo on the web at this URL that resembles the bloom. Very elegant and architectural shrub.

http://www.ricecreekgardens.com/rhododendron/images/wmagrs2.jpg

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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Certainly not a Magnolia but perhaps Amelanchier alnifolia or Amelanchier pumilla. Fragrant, an early spring flowering shrub/tree

http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Amelanchier+alnifolia

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 7:55PM
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skeating

Rosa, I am familiar with the A. alnifolia which is native here. It is similar to the plant I saw today but a couple of things make me think it's not the Amelanchier. This plant has a single flower at the end of the branch, sort of prominently displayed. And the flowers are large- about 3 inches in diameter, with lots of petals. It could be a variety of Amelanchier but I don't know. We are expecting either rain or snow tomorrow. If it's rain I'll try to get a photo and post it, but if it's snow I am probably out of luck til next year.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 11:36PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

If the soil there is alkaline as it is around here, I doubt you'd find a magnolia tree looking healthy in a poorly maintained garden, unless it had yellow leaves.

Magnolias like acidic soils and get chlorotic pretty easily.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 1:57AM
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skeating

Well it's snowing pretty hard so the photo will have to wait. Sure wish I got out there and covered up the miniature roses last night.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 9:28AM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Yes, snowing to beat the band here too.

Hope you can get a picture in a few days.
3" with lots of petals? Hmmmm.....Now I'm really curious!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 9:45AM
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dryad58(z4/5/ CO)

Hey there. I'm up in cheyenne, and while I was wandering around lowes, I saw a magnolia tree for sale... it had blooms on it! I was going to go back after the snow today and see how it looked - I love magnolias. :) Now I know that lowes probably didn't get it from a local nursery, but chances are if they sell it, it'll grow, right? Just thought i'd pitch in.

P.S. If any of you are up my way, and know of an awesome local nursery, i'd love to hear it!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 11:13AM
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skeating

Nope- I'm in Berthoud but moved recently from Fort Collins where we have several good nurseries I think. But I rarely venture north of the border (no implication so don't take offense).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 1:01PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

I don't know that I'd assume that if they sel it, it will grow here. Especially when the they is a "big box" store.

I bought my magnolia from a nursery, and, although magnolias will grow here, I should have checked the ph of my soil first. My soil ha a ph over 8, and magnolias like acidic conditions. It looked fine the first year, but by the second year, when it was using the soil in my yard instead of the soil in the pot it came in, the leaves started to turn yellow. At first, I thought maybe magnolias have yellow leaves, but I checked up on it and found out that it was suffering from iron chlorosis. As time went on, despite everything I tried to do to lower the ph, the leaves got yellower and yellower, until they started turning brown and falling off. In the end, the tree died.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 1:16PM
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bombus(5NM)

is it possibly an abeliophyllum?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 1:33PM
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skeating

The abeliophyllum is beautiful! But no yellow stamens, more petals, and the flowers on this thing are not pendant, they face upward. The plot thickens...

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 2:26PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Now I know that lowes probably didn't get it from a local nursery, but chances are if they sell it, it'll grow, right?

HA, don't count on it!!! I find lots of "outdoor" plants in stores like Lowes, HD and WM that aren't even remotely hardy to this area.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 2:35PM
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oakiris

I would love to grow a magnolia or two here. It seems that there is some success with them even if in alkaline soil, with careful and deep ammendment of the soil where you plant them.

I wish we could add more than one link here but here is one about growing magnolias in Utah, and below that is a link about growing magnolias in Canada; part two talks about alkaline soils. [url]http://extension.usu.edu/files/gardpubs/magnolia.htm[/url]

Here is a link that might be useful: Magnolias grown in Canada

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 3:06PM
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skeating

Interesting site and I will have to read it through when I'm done making my soup. On page 4, the Leonard Messel is similar to the flower I saw, petals slightly more slender at the base and more of them (petals? stamens?) only smaller and all white, recurved in the center. Arrgggghhh... this is as bad as trying to remember someone's name who you went to high school with!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 3:31PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

Thanks for the links, Holly.

Just the other day, my wife asked me if I thought there's any way we could get a magnolia to grow in our yard.

Now, all I have to do is "find a protected area where the soil drains" or maybe create one.

It sounds as if I can get around the problems with the alkaline soil if I add enough organic matter, and part of the trick, I'm sure, is to do it in advance.

One question, though. The USU extension site says that magnolias do best with deep infrequent watering, but the Canadian Gardening site says they all have shallow root systems. These seem to be contradictory. If they have shallow root systems, how do they do best with deep infrequent watering?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 12:12AM
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oakiris

This is somewhat contradictory, isn't it? I have read on several sites that the magnolias are shallow rooted, and yet a lot of sites also recommend deep watering. I think basically you just don't want the roots to dry out so the deep watering just ensures that the entire root ball gets moisture.

Also, (you may already be aware of this) I read that the water-soluble acid fertilizers, such as Mir-Acid, I assume, are not recommended. Solid acid fertilizers such as slow release evergreen fetilizer spikes or cottonmeal are apparently the way to go. I personnally would also mulch with pine bark mulch to help lower the PH in our very alkaline soils.

Please let us know if you decide to grow one of these beautiful trees - info as to which cultivar you buy and where purchased would also be helpful for those of us that are "want-a-be" magnolia growers! :-)

Holly

Here is a link that might be useful: Magnolia cultivars for colder climates

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 11:52AM
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bpgreen(5UT)

I did not realize that the water soluble fertilizers are not recommended. Yet another thing I did to contribute to the demise of Magnolia I.

Since I called it Magnolia I, I guess you can surmise that there will be a Magnolia II. But this time, I know what to expect, so I'll make a more educated attempt.

I'll probably buy it at a local nursery.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 9:31PM
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oakiris

If you find one at a local nursery the folks there should be able to help you with care instructions for your area, too, which is a plus. I've never seen any magnolias at the local nurseries that I frequent, but I think I'll take another look.

Holly

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 11:42AM
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skeating

OakIris, now that I've taken the time to read it through, the link you sent was very informative. I revisited the mystery shrub and I am confident it is a magnolia- probably the "Royal Star" or a similar variety. www.monrovia.com has a photo that closely resembles the blossom of the shrub I was trying to describe- gotta be it. And read this description from the Canadian magnolias link you sent: "The flowers of the saucer magnolia... average nine petals and are much wider and largerÂup to 25 centimetres acrossÂthan those of the star magnolia; inner petals overlap and form an almost closed chalice, while outer petals spread slightly to make a saucer." Sighhhh...

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 10:51PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Way cool skeating. I am absoulutely stunned that this has survived with the neglect especially in this climate.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 7:47AM
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oakiris

Good to know that you were able to identify the tree, skeating. Who ever planted it originally must have prepared the soil correctly and taken care of it until the folks that now own the property moved in and began neglecting everything. (This is one of my sorrows about being a gardener, knowing that the garden I have created and grown and cared for with love and delight will likely disappear after I am gone - I can just imagine the new property owners tearing everything out and replacing it all with sod and junipers!)

I have just the place for a small magnolia in my back yard -you've inspired me to look for one now, skeating. The 'Royal Star' cultivar might be just the one, as it is obviously hardy enough to survive no matter what!

Holly

Here is a link that might be useful: Magnolia 'Royal Star'

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 11:25AM
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oakiris

On second thought, since the 'Royal Star' seems to need a milder climate than ours, maybe I'll go for this cultivar instead!

Here is a link that might be useful: Magnolia 'Jane'

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 11:34AM
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skeating

Yes OakIris, the 'Jane' looks like a shrub cyclamen. Very pretty.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 8:00PM
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oakiris

I stopped at Echter's yesterday to check their magnolias. None of them looked very good and they didn't have 'Jane.' I will wait until Paulino Gardens gets their shipment to see what they have, but I have a feeling if I want a particular cultivar I will have to order it on line.

Holly

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 2:02PM
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OOO1(z5 CO)

I had a Royal Star for several years and it did quite well. It was in a wind protected area (southeast of the house with a large juniper on the west)and no amenities were added to the soil, a fairly heavy clay. Unfortunately, some cattle got out and managed to stomp it into the ground, along with a lot of other plants. Sigh. Decided to redesign the garden and never did replace it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 11:09PM
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bindersbee(6a UT)

Yes, magnolias will grow in Utah and Colorado. Not the 80 foot tall, fabulous ones though. There are two main ones that will work. First, the Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) can get up to about 30 feet tall and has 8 inch purplish fragrant blooms. There are several of these growing at the Utah State University Campus in Logan (definite zone 4). They have been there for many years (by the chemistry building near Old Main) and are somewhat sheltered in their location on the south side of the building.

Secondly, the Star Magnolia (which is probably what you saw) will grow here. I've seen many around the Salt Lake City, Utah area. This is a shrub.

Defying all sense of logic- there is a beautiful Southern Magnolia growing fabulously in the yard of my parent's neighbors in Sandy, Utah (yep- alkaline soil but nearly all sand). I can't explain why it is doing so well as it is the evergreen type of magnolia. I do know it has a south exposure and is protected on the west by a very large Colorado Blue Spruce. I've been told the spruce helps acidify the soil but I don't know. Also, the yard is on a hill so between the sand and the slope, water would drain away really well. No one believes me that this tree exists so I guess I'll have to take a photo. All the ones that grow okay in alkaline soil have deciduous leaves but this one has evergreen ones. So, if you have PERFECT conditions, you could possibly grow even a Southern Magnolia in the Intermountain West.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 1:56PM
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achang89(Z6)

If the original photo is correct, this is the Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata. Royal Star is one of them.

Most of the deciduous magnolias are hardy in Z6 and some are hardi in Z5.

Also, some of the southern magnolia are hardy to Z6. I can think about M. grandiflora "Victoria" and M. granfiflora "Claudia Wannamaker" Both are evergreen and hardy to Z6. You can also try M. virginiana, the sweetbay magnolia. It is semi-evergreen though in cold climate.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 10:05PM
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juliaz5denver

Hi - here's my two cents. I lived in Denver and grew a star magnolia there and it did quite well in a protected southwest facing area. I had seen one growing in my neighborhood (it was about 8-10 ft tall and bloomed profusely against a south facing white wall). There are also two specimens growing on the DU campus on the west side of the building that houses hte bookstore.

In addition, there is a saucer magnolia growing in front of a house on University Blvd a few blocks north of I25 in a front yard on the east side of the street. It is huge! with beautiful pink flowers and dark green, glossy leaves. I almost caused a car wreck the first time I saw it. I grew up back east in Md where there are lots of them and this was the first one I'd seen in Denver. Check it out this spring, if you gt a chance.

Now I live in Steamboat - zone 3/4 - and have lots of adjusting to do!

Julia

    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 7:46PM
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oakiris

I never did get a magnolia. I decided that I shouldn't plant a tree that, from what I have read, is clearly not happy in alkaline, clay soil. But then I revisited this thread and read juliaz5denver's post...I will definitely look for the mentioned University Blvd tree this spring. Perhaps it will inspire me to try one after all....! :-)

(Tomorrow is the first day of spring; we are supposed to get up to 14 inches of snow tonight, but I haven't seen anything yet.)

Holly

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 8:17PM
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ginkgonut(4)

I love magnolias and living in zone 4a they can be a bit challenging. I would look for one called Merrill (see link below). It has proven the most reliable here withstanding cold, windy winters. It is probably the most commonly one planted in Minneapolis. I think this magnolia is tougher than magnolias are given credit for. There is one in my neighborhood growing in a parking lot in about a 10ft diameter circle. This doesn't seem like your ideal growing spot for a magnolia, but it is about 15ft tall and blooms beautifully every year. It also has a huge grocery store parking lot to the north so it wouldn't be considered a sheltered spot either. I also do yard work for a woman that has one (about 10 years old) and she never does anything to it (water etc.) and it blooms every year. However, your CO summers might be drier than ours, not quite sure about that one.

Anyway, check out the link below about one MN nursery's experience with magnolias in zone 4.

Here is a link that might be useful: Merrill Magnolia

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 8:11AM
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Sue_in_Colorado(about 5)

FWIW, there is a nice magnolia growing on the south side of the Mount Antero building at Front Range Community College in Forth Collins, Co.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 9:06AM
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njbiology

Hi,

Is Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana var. virginiana) self-fertile? Does anyone have just one specimen growing in a region where there are none nearby and yet still get fruit?

Thanks,
Steven

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 12:22AM
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erikamccaig

Yes, the sweetbay is self-fertile. Mine is probably the only one for 60 miles, and gets flowers and fruit. Trying to sprout a seed, however, would be a tedious thing. We live in Colorado Springs, but way up on top of Cheyenne Mountain.
I got a Magnolia Virginiana "Moonglow" sweetbay from Forestfarm.com a few years back and it seems to love living in Colorado. It is one zone hardier than the regular sweetbay, and after only 2 years, it over 15 ft. tall and doing great, Right now it looks burned because it has evergreen leaves which get burned edges, but you get new leaves in Spring and lemony-scented flowers sporadically all summer long. Well worth finding a protected spot where you can enjoy the perfume. Ours is by the hot-tub.
The nursery in Canyon City sells tons of Bracken's Brown Magnolia, which I think is pushing it for Colorado.
The biggest trick here is to find a location with protection from those God-awful NW winter winds, and water slightly more deeply and often than the "easy" trees. But it can be done.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 1:50AM
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arctictropical(Z4)

I live in the bottom of Cache Valley (where the coldest air flows to in winter) near Logan, in extreme northern Utah. I have experienced -45 before at my home. -30 is not unusual. -20 to -30 is common in winter. I'd had success with several magnolias. I've tried about 20 different named varieties, but the most successful so far have been Sweetbay 'Moonglow' (surprisingly hardy), 'Jane', 'Royal Star', 'Marilyn', 'Toro', 'Leonard Messel' and a couple others I've forgotten the names of. I've planted "Merrill" several times but it keeps dying out. We had a freak cold snap in November 2010 after a very warm October (-20 on Thanksgiving morning), and I lost all of my peach trees and cherry trees (but one) due to late dormancy, but all of the above magnolia trees survived. I had die back to the trunk on all but 'Moonglow', 'Toro' and 'Jane' Another promising one is "Ballerina". Good luck! Don't give up in zone 4. Just keep replacing the ones that die out until something sticks! You might try other fun plants to go with your magnolias like Blue Moon wisteria (zone 3) and Fargesia bamboo.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 8:12PM
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