Growing Magnolias in Colorado

5 years ago

I presently have some ten Magnolias growing at my Louisville home and all seem to be thriving. In the front yard I have three Magnolias 'Jane' which, if it weren't for the fact that I prune them, would now be about fifteen feet tall, three Magnolia grandiflora (Southern Magnolias) 'Bracken's Brown Beauty' planted three years ago and every spring and summer put out beautiful saucer-shaped large, white flowers with an intoxicating lemony scent, and a ten foot Magnolia 'Butterflies' that, with luck and no heavy snow, puts out beautiful yellow flowers every April. In the back yard there is a four foot Southern magnolia 'Kay Perris', planted last fall and which made it through this last winter (2015/16) unscathed, and a small yellow Cucumber 'Magnolia acuminata', also doing well. On the east side I have a six foot Magnolia 'Sunsation' and a small Magnolia virginiana Sweet Bay evergreen Magnolia which put out two white flowers last summer a month after planting. This spring I will plant another Southern Magnolia, 'Little Gem' and a Magnolia Tripetata, also known as Umbrella Magnolia.

While Colorado is not exactly known as Magnolia country, I have never lost any to the elements. I always try to site them well and amend the soil around them properly. Magnolias like acidic soil. I also mulch around them and before winter sets in I build tepee-shaped covering around them with garden poles and burlap for a little extra protection. With the exception of the Magnolias 'Jane' and the Magnolia 'Sunsation, which I purchased locally, all the rest of the abovementioned Magnolias were ordered online at out-of-state nurseries. My three favorites are Rare Find Nursery in Jackson, New Jersey which sells more than forty selections of Magnolia trees and shrubs, Nearly Native Nursery in Fayetteville, Georgia and Plant Me Green Nursery in Monticello, Florida. They all sell excellent nursery stock at reasonable prices and have top-notch customer service. Check Dave's Garden Watchdog.

So absolutely yes, one can successfully grow Magnolias here in Colorado along the Front Range (our zone here in Louisville is a tenuous 6a), even Magnolia grandifloras, provided they are well-sited, planted with acidic, amended soil, adequately watered and given a little extra TLC. There are many varieties suitable for zone 6 and even some for zone 5. While I personally have never seen any Southern Magnolias (grandifloras) in the Denver metro area (although I know there is one in Lakewood), I have seen some deciduous Magnolias, namely soulangeanas and some Magnolia stellatas. So if you're adventurous and would like to have magnolias in your yard or garden, go for it. With push- the- envelope gardening, persistence is the name of the game.


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