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Magnolia trees range in size from large and wide trees down to compact shrubs. Compact and dwarf magnolias are available and these are best grown in large containers. Here are three of the most popular miniature magnolia trees which are stellata, susan and yellow bird. More on them below.
Magnolia Stellata (Star Magnolia)
Magnolia Stellata is a compact tree that reaches a height of around 2.5m when it’s fully matured. In early spring, small silvery buds appear on the bare branches. From these, the star-shaped white flowers appear, along with their signature scent, between March and April. But be aware that the flowering period can start later and last longer, depending on the variety of the Stellata you choose.
This is a slow-growing magnolia species that stays in its compact form. It remians strong as long as you keep it watered and fed. The only pruning you need to do is a little light pruning to help it maintain its round shape. This tree is tolerant of slightly alkaline conditions and grows well in pots.
Some other varieties of Magnolia Stellata include:
‘Royal Star’ – a deciduous shrub with pale pink buds and white flowers in early spring that grows to around 3m high
‘George Henry Kearn’ – another deciduous shrub, this time with goblet-shaped flowers that bloom in mid to late spring. The flowers are very pale pink with a purple-pink flush on the outside.
‘Gold Star’ – also deciduous, this variety creates creamy-yellow, star-shaped flowers in early and mid-spring.
Magnolia Susan is more a shrub than a tree. Its deep red-purple buds open in mid-spring. Out come narrow, goblet-shaped flowers with a strong fragrance. The blooms are red-purple outside and pink inside for a wonderful contrast. When grown in pots, it remains a small tree.
Magnolia ‘Yellow Bird’
We include the magnolia ‘Yellow Bird’ even though it’s quite a rare find. The original tree is quite large but some experts are grafting part of the tree onto a dwarf trunk to produce a miniature magnolia tree. It’s worth looking out for this hybrid as the blooms are stunning. They’re lemon yellow, sometimes streaked with lime green, and have a tulip shape and a light scent. As the tree matures, more and more blooms of these stunning flowers appear. The yellow flowers serve as a strong contrast against the dark green elliptical leaves
If you want to learn more about growing magnolias in pots you can read my guide here. Also, keep an eye out for pests on your magnolias as well as make sure you use the best pruning practices when pruning your magnolia.