Magnolia x soulangiana in Brooklyn-Doable?

haloony(6B)March 22, 2012

Hey All,

I have recently been introduced to a beautiful tree: the saucer magnolia or Magnolia x soulangiana. I have been looking for a nice light-colored flowering tree to plant in my parents' front lawn for a while now and I think this is the one. I have really been hearing wonderful things about the beauty of this tree.

My question is if I can pull this off in Brooklyn as a beginner gardener. First, I know this particular magnolia is supposed to be hardy down to zone 5 but I am wondering if anyone has had success planting this magnolia in the Brooklyn-NYC area. Second, what level of difficulty is involved in getting this magnolia to flourish and express its beauty. Last and most importantly, where can I get one. I have tried my nearby Lowes and Home depot and they are all sold-out. I have found many online-based vendors but I do not know which ones are reputable. Has anyone had success purchasing this magnolia from an online vendor?

Sorry about all these questions. Any feedback would be appreciated.



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Sara Malone Zone 9b

I grew up in Princeton, NJ and the University campus there is full of M. x soulangeana. I went to college in Poughkeepsie (waaaay colder), and there were quite a few there, in fact, I did my senior botany thesis on it! So I think you're fine in Brooklyn. I leave suggestions about culture and vendors to those who know better than I. May be too late to ship but you can get prepared for fall. Have fun with it - always great to fall in love with a tree!

Here is a link that might be useful: Form and Foliage

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 8:29PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

No independent garden centers in the area? Home Depot etc. aren't anything like a real nursery, that exists just to sell nursery goods. These big box plant departments don't have nearly the selection of an independent store of any size.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:51PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

There are many named varieties of soulangiana type saucer magnolias. You would be better off with one of these than one simply labeled 'soulangiana' since it's impossible to tell what this general label will mean in terms of ultimate size, flower color, ease of cultivation, and years to first bloom.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a long history of developing magnolias for Z5 and colder and I'm sure you can see many of the varieties there. You are also within reasonable distance to two of the best magnolia souces on the east coast: Fairweather Gardens and Rarefind Nursery, both in southern New Jersey. By all means, take a look at the online catalogs of both nurseries and see the wide variety available.

I totally agree with bboy about the big box stores. A magnolia is a long term investment. Buying an unnamed soulangiana type at Lowes or HomeDepot is a waste of your time and money when there are so many superior trees available to you either through mail order or a short trip to NJ.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 5:08AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if you cant find one.. you arent looking hard enough ...

they are near bulletproof in my z5 .. as far as the tree itself.. and one in 10 years.. there is some flower problems.. you should have no problem ...

they are spectacular.. unnamed or foo foo ones ... its all about how much you want to spend ...

i would not buy any bigger than about 2 to 3 feet.. to make the job easier ...

you simply need to find a nursery .. if they have that kind of thing in brooklyn ... otherwise.. time for some phone calls and a road trip ...

mail order is an option.. but then you are talking in the 6 inch to one foot size..

regardless of size.. it will probably take a few years to start getting a really good flower show .. it is a tree/flowering shrub after all ... not an annual or perennial ...

stay away from yellow ones.. they are not within your learning curve at this time ... too foo foo ..


ps: i used to get a catalog from a nursery out that way .. maybe i will reactivate that brain cell ...east coast.. NJ??? .. well know.. family name [4 or 5 letters] .. specialized in woody shrubs ... newsprint catalog, back in the day ... maybe someone else will know it.. based on that dearth of info ..

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 8:06AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

it was roslyn nursery.. in NY.. but apparently they went out of biz .. quite a while back ...


    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 8:46AM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

I used to order from Roslyn Nursery too - I got my Cladrastis and some of my Cercis from them. Too bad they're gone...

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 9:18AM
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Hey All,

Thanks for all the input! I had a feeling that I wasn't looking hard enough. Sometimes google searches come up with way too many results and I get overwhelmed. The feedback you guys have given me has given me confidence and placed me in a direction. I think I will check Kings County Nurseries, which is in brooklyn, first and then if I can't find anything there I'll check out the NJ nurseries.

Does anyone have any particular favorite subspecies/cultivar/not-sure-of-the-correct-term?


    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Due to being finer-textured and more compact, later flowering one of these would probably be better than a saucer magnolia. 'Pinkie' is not so reddish or purple as the others, I've thought flowers of it I've seen at the Seattle arboretum were quite a nice pink.

Here is a link that might be useful: The U.S. National Arboretum presents eight hybrid magnolia cultivars affectionately known as ''The Girls.''

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 5:36PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you are not a collector [yet anyway.. lol] .. so i would suggest you NOT get all tied up in looking for the perfect named plant ... or cultivar

stay away from the yellow ones.. very foo foo ...

and usually.. the base line .. common ones.. are get this.. common.. because they are bulletproof ...

once the hardcore start growing seeds.. and selecting for flower color.. the vigor of the plants SOMETIMES tends to go down.. simply because those peeps dont care about the tree.. they focus only on the flower ...

stick with the common .. or the darker one ..

BTW.. they should be in bloom.. you should see them around ... if you get out of the cement jungle ... and into suburbia ..

do not buy bigger than about 3 to 4 feet ... and review the link before you plant it ... and ask about the process, before you screw it up ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 9:19AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Most magnolias, including saucer magnolia are quite large-growing and can appear coarse. Unless this is a spacious situation it could be quite worthwhile to deliberately choose a lily or star magnolia instead, or one of the named hybrids between them (see page at link above). None of these are rare.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 11:20AM
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