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Potted: Star magnolia

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Star magnolia, Magnolia stellata 

Courtyard gardeners who covet the pretty petals of magnolias find that most struggle in potted situations. But not the star magnolia which grows into a long-lived, rounded, short shrub with either white, ivory or rose pink blooms. Choose a wide tub and fill with premium camellia potted mix. Add a ring of matching white Bellis perennis around the base. 


This improved variety of the Star Magnolia (Magnolia kobus var Stellata) has blooms so white they glow in the dark.This medium-large shrub grows into a multi-stemmed habit with branching close to the ground and hundreds of starry flowers adorn the branches. It has a unrivalled spherical shape when mature. Flowers are made up of thin wrinkled petals that burst out from the central stamens like stars. Flowering occurs in late winter - early spring before the leaves appear. However the leafless silhouette looks good particularly at night when lit by spotlight.


Plant in warm position in full sun with protection from the afternoon sun. Somewhere you can appreciate the star flowers from a window.


Select a large wide tub with good drainage. Underplanting with early spring bulbs (daffodils, snowdrops etc.) will enhance the white or blush flowers. For further foliage and flower interest you can plant hellebores, heuchera or hostas beneath. Be wary heavy frosts can damage flowers. Mulch annually with cow manure with a layer of pebbles on top.


Pruning is not advised as the symmetry and delicate branching shape will be ruined.

A pink form is available and is called 'Rosea'.


Text: Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross