In recent times, the gardens owned by most people are either small or very small. Magnolia stellata is the best magnolia for growing in small gardens. This magnolia grows to a small height and also bears white or pink hued star-shaped blooms. Under normal circumstances, Magnolia stellata does not grow up to the size of a tree, but a very luxuriant shrub. As far as growing magnolias is concerned, people having small gardens have very little options. However, you can turn the magnolias into small trees by pruning them judiciously. Ideally, get rid of the lower branches of the magnolia to make way for under planting, especially bulbs. The magnolia variety named "Waterlily" is perhaps the best for growing in small gardens. Compared to Magnolia stellata, this magnolia bears attractive white aromatic flowers with more number of petals.
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In case you have a very small garden, you may possibly have to decide growing any of the two magnolias discussed above. However, even growing just one plant will provide you with sufficient flowers. In addition, the plant, whether it is Magnolia stellata or Magnolia "Waterlily", will start flowering from an early age, and flower for a very long period. However, if your garden is not absolutely tiny, growing the cultivars called Magnolia x loebneri is a good option. Similarly, Magnolia sieboldii is a very different and extremely suitable magnolia species for small gardens. This magnolia species bears drooping, pendulous white blooms having vividly red hued stamens. Magnolia sieboldii flowers for several weeks together and then sporadically for about a month.
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On the other hand, if you reside in the countryside and possess some land, maybe an entire farm, you actually have an excellent landscape which you can make more beautiful by planting large magnolias. Planting several magnolias of a particular group will particularly look wonderful, as you will be able to create a visual impact that is superior by growing larger varieties. When you grow the large magnolia varieties, you may possibly have to wait for anything between five and seven years for the trees to produce their first flowers. Therefore, it is wise to grow these magnolias along with some other varieties of magnolia that will produce flowers soon after you purchase and plant them in your land.
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As shade plants, magnolias are prefect plants. These are excellent deciduous trees for your garden, because after the plants shed their leaves during the fall, they allow the winter sun to sweeten the soil. In fact, a woodland garden with not much wind will make a calm refuge, with the large trees creating piebald shade and different types of valuable plants growing under their protective shelter. Magnolias are perfect for such surroundings, as they make the early spring beautiful and aromatic by blossoming earlier than the other deciduous trees, such as maples. Moreover, the attractive leaves of magnolias provide an exquisite verdant background till the end of the season, when the downy buds provide the beauties of winter. While a number of magnolias like Magnolia loebneri "Leonardo Messel" have excellent fall hues, it is unfortunate that most other varieties do not look so beautiful in fall.
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Magnolias have very shallow roots, which grow close to the soil surface, and they loathe disturbing their roots. They also do not like to grow alone. Therefore, you may grow bulbs, especially those that can neutralize easily, as under plants for magnolias grown in a lawn or field. In fact, bluebells and daffodils are excellent for growing under the magnolia trees. These bulbs have a dazzling display during spring offering a delightful picture with the elegant magnolias blossoming above them.
You can choose from an assortment of bulbs and other plants to grow under the magnolia trees in your woodland gardens, which you have been cultivating with great care. You may choose to grow bulbs like the trillium and woody lily, often also called wake-robin, which are in bloom during the spring. Both trillium and woody lily have their origin in North American woodlands. The name "trillium" suggests that the leaves as well as the flowers of this plant come in threes. Besides, these plants are not only attractive and elegant, but they also need shade as well as damp for optimal growth.
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There is one thing that needs to be reiterated - you need to remove the dropped magnolia leaves immediately. This is extremely important because the dead magnolia leaves do not decompose easily. On the contrary, these leaves may actually choke the small, delicate bulbous plants growing underneath the magnolias. However, the bluebells and daffodils that grow naturally under tall magnolia trees are hardy enough to take care of themselves.
The trilliums have a very long flowering season and while they continue to blossom, a new attractive woodland plant called the frittillarias start flowering. The flowers of these plants are dangling bells whose appearance is very modest, but have a delicate charm. Moreover, the blooms of the frittillarias come in some exceptional hues.
Erythronium is another bulb that can be grown as a companion for magnolias in your garden. These are beautiful plants, but are often distastefully known as the dog's-tooth violet. This plant can be grown well together with other bulbs under the magnolias in your garden. Erythroniums also have their origin in North America and their flowers have a variety of colors - white, yellow, and pink. Another important thing about erythroniums is that they can be grown without much difficulty.
You can also grow cyclamen under your magnolia trees. While the plants themselves are very beautiful and delicate, they flower for a prolonged period - often many months at a stretch. Cyclamen hederifolium blossoms during the fall, while the Cyclamen coum starts flowering from the later part of winter and continues to remain in bloom till spring. These plants may be grown very close to the trunk of magnolias, where the soil is inclined to become dry. In fact, cyclamen has no difficulty whatsoever growing in dry soils. Even the marbled leaves of cyclamen are wonderful. So when the plants are not in bloom, you can take delight in their genuinely beautiful leaves.
Magnolias do not prefer to grow in isolation. This is evident from the fact that when growing in the wild, magnolias are found growing alongside other trees. Therefore, you may fill in the spaces between the magnolias by planting shrubs like camellias, rhododendrons, mollis (deciduous) azaleas and kalmias. All these plants flourish in the same type of soils as well as growing conditions. A brief description of these accompanying plants is given below.
Kalmia: These shrubs grow up to a height of about 6 feet (1.8 meters). Kalmias have their origin in North America and produce beautiful white, red, pink or bicolour flowers. These shrubs blossom in the beginning of summer and their flowering season does not coincide with that of magnolias, which blossom during the spring. Hence, even when grown together, kalmias do not vie with magnolias to draw our attention. Moreover, kalmias develop into elegant forms. Even the buds of these plants and their cupped flowers look wonderful.
Camellia: While the leaves of camellias are very attractive, their flowers are spectacular. In addition, camellias come in a wide assortment of colors and all of them are lovely. Camellias begin to blossom in the winter and they continue flowering till spring. In fact, camellias are wonderful complementary plants coming in attractive colors that go well with the hues of magnolia flowers. What is good about camellias is that like the magnolias, their requirements are also few and simple. They do not require plenty of after-care. Camellias come in several hundred varieties and one may choose their preferred one easily. The best way of selecting camellias is to visit a garden center close to your home and see them in bloom before choosing your favourite colors. In fact, this will allow you to find out the precise camellia varieties whose color of blooms will blend excellently with the magnolias you are growing.
Rhododendron: As rhododendrons come in a wide range of hues and also blossom at different times of the year, they make wonderful companions for magnolias.
Rosa rugosa: This shrub is an excellent selection for growing along with magnolias. Rosa rugosa plants are very resilient and do not need any spraying. They produce simple, single fragrant blooms that come in white, red, pink and purple colors. This species comprises several attractive hybrids and majority of them produce striking hips during the fall. As far as pruning is concerned, Rosa rugosa plants do not require to be cut back much. A simple trimming undertaken from time to time is enough to keep the plants in excellent shape.
There are numerous trees that can be grown as companion plants for magnolias. Below are descriptions of few such trees.
Birch: Among the wide assortment of deciduous trees, the birch or betula is one of the most attractive. A variety of birch trees is found in different places across the globe and all these trees have one thing in common - they are all very poised as well as elegant. Besides, all birch trees have a light and subtle covering. The leaves of birch tree have a light green color during spring and it turns to golden in fall. The bark of this tree is also very beautiful. When grown among magnolias, birch trees look excellent. However, you need to always bear in mind that birch trees are great feeders and need to be provided with nutrients on a regular basis with a view to stop them from encroaching upon the foods of other plants growing in the vicinity.
Cornus: Cornus florida as well as its cultivars are beautiful trees that have their origin in North America. Also known as dogwood, they grow up to a height of anything between 15 feet and 20 feet (4.5 meters to 6 meters). These small trees bear attractive "bracts" whose appearance is similar to wide-open white, pink, pinkish-red and red blooms that come in simple designs. The flowers of Cornus florida are immensely beautiful and enjoyable and remain on the bare branches of the tree for several weeks. After the flowering is over, the branches are adorned by wonderful colored leaves whose hues vary from different shades of red, changing from oranges to yellows, subject to the cultivar. The leaves of a number of cornus are variegated and their fall display is all the more stunning. This is mainly because variegation offers additional color diversity on every cornus tree. The trees develop small knob-like buds that remind one of the facts that they will not have to wait for long for the spring blooms.
Maples: Maples are also excellent small companion trees for magnolias. They grow up to a height of anything between 15 feet and 25 feet (4.5 meters and 7.5 meters). You can choose from various types of maples, including the Japanese maple (botanical name Acer palmatum), its variety A. p. dissectum as well as A. japonica species and its cultivars.
You may also grow the weeping maples, which are loved all over the world, as companion plants for magnolias. In fact, they will look very attractive when grown facing the magnolias. The flowers of weeping maples come in different colors - green, red and even variegated hues, appearing on standards whose heights vary. Any of these maples can be grown as good companion plants for your magnolias. However, while growing maples, you should bear in mind that though these plants are quite hardy, they are unable to endure strong winds. Therefore, you need to select appropriate locations for these trees.