Star Magnolia Tree

A Guide to Growing the Star Magnolia Tree

The star magnolia tree is another one of those plants that is in-between a tree and a shrub. At maturity the plant will never reach more than 15-20 feet high, although it can also approach 15 feet in width. The star magnolia tree is deciduous but it is heavily branched, and has a delightful silvery gray bark which is nice-looking against the winter landscape.

The magnificent 3 to 4 inch flowers are white and follow early spring’s fuzzy buds. The flowers have an extraordinary amount of petals, ranging anywhere from 18-30. When it flowers the entire tree seems engulfed in blossoms. It gives a spectacular spring show. One of the reasons people love the star magnolia tree is because of its colorful displays. The fruit of the tree is a pink and two to three inches long. It is rectangular with rounded ends. In fall, once the capsules have burst open to scatter the seeds, you will be able to see the seeds displayed, which are a bright orange in color.

The star magnolia tree is low maintenance and requires no pruning. You can prune it if you want to make more of a tree shape. It grows fine in most soils and likes to get full sunlight. The shrub is very slow growing. It is a wonderful tree for small yards and larger yards can benefit from the looks of growing this white-flowered tree in front of trees of darker colors such as firs and evergreens.

You plant the star magnolia like any other tree by digging a hole the depth of the root ball but three times as wide. Set the tree in the center of the hole so that the top of the root ball is approximately one inch above ground level. Fill in the hole and water thoroughly. Water daily until the tree is rooted in the ground. You will need to hand water in times of drought.

You can propagate the star magnolia tree by cuttings in the spring or by growing from the orange seeds. If left on its own, it will produce a few seedlings nearby each year. You can replant these seedlings elsewhere if you would like to have several of this species of tree in your yard. They are excellent trees that do well in most conditions. They are quite adaptable. The only real problem can come in the event of heavy snow and storms. Because the star magnolia is soft-wooded, the branches can break if heavily laden with snow or ice.

This tree is relatively disease resistant and only suffers from one real pest. That is the magnolia scale. All of the scale insects can be quite destructive to plants. They all exude a honeydew sap which usually causes colonies of ants to appear. This makes the leaves feel sticky and look shiny. And, there is usually a noticeable black mold on the leaves. Scales are tiny brown flat insects. If you have a heavy infestation, you may have to use insecticides to save the tree. These are best applied in early fall, just at the time when the insects emerge as crawlers.

Ask your local county agricultural agent if scales are problem in your location. The agent may be able to help you take preventative measures before you are under assault from a large infestation.

If you are thinking about growing a star magnolia tree, take a look at some of the newest cultivars. Many of them have white flowers with pink centers or edges, while others start out as pink flowers and fade to white upon maturity. The Rubra has purple flowers that fade to pink. If you like spring flowers, this tree will produce an extraordinary display.