M. Macrophylla

Discussion in 'Magnoliaceae' started by DGuertin, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. DGuertin

    DGuertin Active Member 10 Years

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    Houston, TX
    Bought a 1 gallon M.M. last weekend at a local botanical garden sale, here in the Houston area of Texas. Biggest question I now have is whether or not it's really going to survive here, and under what circumstances that might best be accomplished...

    Thanks all!
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    WA USA (Z8)
    If it doesn't work out maybe try ssp. ashei from Florida, native to lowlands and normally less-large growing, flowering when quite small. Both will require woodland conditions, if your soil is terrible and you have no spot that is out of the wind and hottest sun those could be problems. The large papery leaves of these cannot take much wind at all before they tear and even in dull Seattle area sun burn may develop some seasons (we have very dry conditions in July here).
  3. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    I have mine growing in an elevation around 5500
    feet. I planted a large five gallon and put it in an
    acid soil, wind and sun sheltered by native Pines
    and Incense Cedar and still for about 10 years I
    saw the leaves get tattered by wind during the
    warm Summers. It takes this plant a while to
    adapt but when it does the leaves do not get as
    badly disfigured by wind as the years go by.
    I've had the same issues with tripetala as well.

    Both of these Maples require an acid soil as
    saline to alkaline soils will cause even more
    leaf issues with salt burn which causes the
    leaves to become much more susceptible
    to direct hot sun and warm to hot winds,
    even when the tree has some protection.

    I've seen people even in the foothill areas
    near me keep these plants in a greenhouse
    until they were 10-12' tall and then when
    placed outside they would get chewed up
    by the elements. Another thing is both of
    these Maples like having some marine air
    in the mornings and late afternoon. Thus
    in areas of higher humidity they are less
    prone to have their leaves torn as the
    moisture does serve as a protection for
    the leaves. We found good results with
    overhead sprinkler watering for these
    when left in containers grown under
    shade cloth. The concern is when we
    place the trees outside into the elements
    and then found they are best planted under
    a canopy of larger and fuller trees which
    can act as direct sun protection while we
    wait for the trees to adapt to our setting
    but more importantly serve as our wind
    protection as it is the wind that causes
    the more trouble than direct sun does.

    The whole issue is that when the leaves
    are expanding they are the most vulnerable
    to wind. If those leaves get hurt by the
    wind the trees do not readily set out new
    growth to replace the leaves that were
    torn up. I am lucky to see two flushes
    of new growth where I have my trees,
    so that any leaves that get tattered or
    torn are not replaced until the following
    year. Where we see the most new shoot
    development is on the top portions of the
    trees. Unless you have lots of undergrowth,
    do not prune the top back as you will regret
    doing that later when the tree shuts down
    on you. Leave these trees as is, they will
    generally develop a leader all on their own,
    until they are about 12-15 years of age in
    the ground.

    I agree that Ashe's Magnolia (Magnolia
    macrophylla var. ashei
    ) [and you may
    have it now and not know it] is a better
    plant to grow in Houston. The leaves
    are less prone to wind damage when
    young and can tolerate saline soils
    and warmer temperatures better than
    macrophylla and tripetala when grown
    here on the valley floor.

  4. DGuertin

    DGuertin Active Member 10 Years

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    Houston, TX
    Thanks much for that input guys. Given the seed source of the tree I bought (Mercer Arboretum), I'm pretty sure it's the straight MM, and not Ashei. They do have theirs growing in some pretty significant shade, from my perspective. They grow magnolias everywhere around here, but normally just your Home Depot kind of Southern Belle or what have you.

    I did notice, and was highly surprised by the texture of these leaves. I'm used to magnolias being fairly thick and leathery, but these are, as you said, rather papery. Well, mine are just downright floppy rather than papery, but they usual 75 - 100% humidity I'm sure helps with that. ;-)

    I'm a foliage fellow myself, so, while the masssive flowers may eventually impress me, I understand I'm not likely to see them before my daughter graduates in 2020... Still, I'm stunned at the (currently still growing) 14" long leaves I have on a tree just over 24" from the soil up!
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    WA USA (Z8)
    Southern magnolia (M. grandiflora) has different parameters than bigleaf magnolia.

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