Magnolia is a large genus of about 210 flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae of the family Magnoliaceae. It is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol.
Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating to 95 million years ago. Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals.
The natural range of Magnolia species is a disjunct distribution, with a main center in east and southeast Asia and a secondary center in eastern North America, Central America, the West Indies, and some species in South America.
How to Grow a Magnolia Tree
Plant the tree in an area of your garden with full to partial sun and plenty of room for the magnolia to grow. Select a cultivar that has been grafted, not grown from seed, if you'd like to see blooms before the tree is 15 years old. Magnolia trees that are not grown from seed tend to blossom in three years.
Dig a hole that's at least twice as wide as the root ball on the magnolia tree and slightly deeper than its growing container. Magnolias enjoy soil that is slightly acidic and that drains well.
Add a 2-inch layer of quality compost to the bottom of the hole. Remove the magnolia tree from the growing container and squeeze the roots to awaken them. Place the tree in the hole and fill in around it with more compost. The top of the root ball should be level with the ground soil line.
Water the soil around the tree. The compost will settle; add more and water again. Make sure that your magnolia tree receives at least 1 inch of water each week for life, and more if it doesn't rain.
Add a 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the tree. Mound the mulch from the center at the trunk, tapering downward away from the tree in the summer. Move the mulch away from the trunk in the autumn.
Fertilize the magnolia tree with water-soluble fertilizer in the spring and autumn. Feed your magnolia once each month during the growing season in the spring, and once in late August or early September.
Feed its roots if your magnolia tree is not blooming by the fourth year. Use a crowbar to make 8- to 12-inch holes that are spaced 6 inches apart around the tree's drip line (where the outermost branches and leaves end). Add super phosphate to each of the holes according to the manufacturer's directions.