Magnolia Yellow Bird

The Magnolia Yellow Bird - A Beautiful Late Bloomer

The Magnolia Yellow Bird is one of the more attractive members of the magnolia family. The Yellow Bird, Magnolia x brooklynensis, is a hybrid and was introduced a little over 20 years ago by the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

Late Blooming - Both its growing habits and its spectacular yellow blossoms have made the Magnolia Yellow Bird a favorite culivar among all the magnolia trees. The species is known for its late flowering habits, later than typical for magnolias. Blossoms appear in late spring or early summer, and usually last for two, and sometimes three, weeks. The 3 to 4 inch yellow (some say dark golden) blossoms precede the foliage. They are in full bloom at the time the leaves first start to sprout, so the blossoms are not hidden in foliage.

The Magnolia Yellow bird is a small, pyramid-shaped tree which grows to a height of 10 feet and has a spread of 15 feet. It is a slow growing tree and can take a dozen or so years before reaching its maximum size. As it is slow growing, it can be planted as a shrub or screen. If so, space the saplings 8 to 10 feet apart. Most often, the tree is planted as an ornamental or specimen tree.

Cold Is OK, Intense Sun Is Not - This magnolia is quite hardy, surviving well in subzero temperatures when planted in USDA Zones 2 through 6 and freezing temperatures elsewhere. One of the nicer features about this particular tree is it is usually not adversely affected by an unexpected late spring frosts, which often can kill other magnolias. Some will tell you to plant it in full sun, others in partial shade, and still others say it does best when it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. The truth of the matter is, the proper sun exposure is a function of where you live. If you live in a southern state, Florida for example, the tree should be planted where it gets afternoon shade, away from the most intense sunlight. In the northern tier of states or in the Pacific Northwest region, the Magnolia Yellow Bird can be planted in full sun. Even if you live up north, a location where the tree is in full to partial shade during hot summer afternoons will usually be the optimum condition.

The tree is not terribly fussy about the soil, as long as it can be kept moist and drains well. Although its watering requirements are rather average, it is critical to water the tree regularly during the first year, even the first two years, until the tree has become well established. As is the case with most trees, an inch of water a week is sufficient and it's best to give the tree a heavy watering once a week instead of a light sprinkle every day. The Magnolia Yellow Bird will thrive in either slightly acidic (pH 6.1 - 6.5) or mildly alkaline (pH 7.6 - 7.8) soil.

Easy To Care For - Care for the Magnolia Yellow Bird is not much different than for other trees, in fact it could be classified as a low maintenance plant. If you are growing it as a shrub or screen, give the plants fertilizer once a year. If grown as a tree, a fertilizer treatment every 4 or 5 years will make for a happier tree. Once is starts blooming, you can count on a consistent bloom year after year.

Saving the seeds to grow more trees isn't worth the effort, as the blossoms are usually sterile. Remember, this tree is a hybrid. If a seed does germinate, the result may not be predictable; you may or may not get a nice tree out of the bargain. Planting is usually done by root ball if you are starting with a young tree, or bare root if starting a sapling. The usual instructions for planting a tree apply. Dig a large enough hole, and add some compost or manure to help the tree get off to a good start. And of course, give the transplant plenty of water that first day and water regularly afterwards.