Plant of the Month April - Purple Magnolia 'Susan'


Plant of the Month April - Purple Magnolia 'Susan'

01Apr 2018

In April our particular favourite is the distinctive magnolia type known as purple magnolia 'Susan'. The name is of course a giveaway: the plant has flowers that bloom in the spring, in gorgeous pink to purple.


What do all plant fans find an inspiration?


A long and perfume-filled flowering season of course! The buds of the purple magnolia are still forming in May, while secondary blooms appear into September, and they exude a pleasantly sweet fragrance.

The upright deciduous shrub grows up to 3,5 metres high and between two and three metres wide. The plant has long petals that grow to a size of over ten centimetres. The elliptical leaves are dark green and grow up to 15 centimetres in size.

The purple magnolia tends to adorn various spots in either the back or front garden or the terrace, since it can just as effectively be planted as a stand-alone tree or in combination with other spring blossoms; but it’s also a real feast for the eyes when planted in a pot.


What to be aware of when planting?


This plant prefers a sunny to semi-shady spot in a sheltered location. The soil should be humus-rich, moist, loose and slightly acidic. Rhododendron soil is eminently suitable.

Caution: When planting, care must be taken to ensure adequate irrigation. The best time for this is either in April and May or in autumn.


How should purple magnolias be best cared for?


With the right care, magnolias will grow to a great age and bring their owners many years’ pleasure. And in fact magnolias don’t need any pruning, since they grow to be naturally beautiful and elegant. If the crown needs to be slightly curtailed or sick branches removed, the best time to prune is after flowering but before new buds have formed again.

It is important that the branch is cut competently, so that no stumps or larger wounds occur, since they tend to heal poorly. And: The cut should always be carefully considered, because no new branches sprout from old wood: which means that cutting with a lack of care can end with unattractive holes being left behind.

If trimming has however proven to be necessary, then the plant may not flower the following season. However, the magnolia usually recovers well and will delight its viewers with a bright blossom again the following year.


How does purple magnolia deal with cold?


Late frosts damage flowers that have opened, however the closed buds tolerate the frost well. As with all plants with shallow roots, the roots should ideally be protected with a layer of mulch in winter. Fir branches also provide effective protection against the cold.