Evergreen Magnolia Trees
Evergreen Magnolia trees offer multiple ways to create a beautiful showstopper garden. Their versatile form and foliage make fantastic hedges and contrast nicely with other plants in the garden.
At Kilby Park Tree Farm we grow some of the most popular evergreen magnolia trees for Melbourne gardens.
Here are a few of our favourites. We’ve included how they grow, what they can be used for, and some care tips to keep in mind.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Kay Parris’ is an excellent medium-sized evergreen feature. This tree grows to around 7m tall to 3 m wide, making it a great screening option as well. This variety includes large, bright green leaves with velvety brown undersides. Large, creamy-white flowers appear in summer which offer a showy display with stunning fragrance.
This tree will grow in full sun through to part shade. When planting a hedge of ‘Kay Parris,’ space the plants out between 80 to 100 centimetres. Be sure to water regularly once planted and consistently during hot summers. Adding a layer of mulch is also beneficial to keep the soil moist and free of weeds. Prune as required to maintain shape, especially if growing as a hedge.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ is another great specimen of Magnolia trees. This is a small compact evergreen tree, with dense foliage and a columnar habit. As well as the Kay Parris, it produces fragrant cream flowers in summer. The foliage has shiny, dark-green tops with a fuzzy tan abaxial. It grows between 4.5-6m tall and only to 2-3m wide, making it perfect for a small garden as well as a tall, narrow hedge.
‘Little Gems’ thrive in full sun to part shade and can live happily in containers with adequate soil and water. Follow the same spacing as ‘Kay Parris’ to create a dense hedge. Prune as required for shaping and maintenance.
One of our favourite Magnolias is the magnificent ‘Teddy Bear.’ This cultivar is so popular it sells as soon as it’s ready! Known for its dense, bushy habit, ‘Teddy Bear’ has small, fat, glossy dark-green leaves with the same fuzzy undersides as other evergreen Magnolias. This variety only grows from 4-5m and around 2m wide. It produces fragrant white flowers from late spring to late Autumn.
‘Teddy Bear’ is quite hardy and loves a full sun position. Once established, it can withstand Melbourne summers and winters. As with the other Magnolias spacing is the same for hedging. Care is also similar; prune to shape, preferably before the new shoots emerge in early spring. Also be sure to keep the teddies well-watered, more so in the summer months.
I should also be noted that Magnolia ‘Teddy Bear’ can be a bit top heavy, so staking is always recommended especially in high wind areas.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘St Mary’ is yet another beautiful magnolia tree that can be used in an array of landscapes and functions. This variety is preferred for taller hedges or specimen plantings as it reaches up to 7m tall by 5m wide. ‘St Mary’ is extremely hardy and once established, handling frost and heat like a breeze.
This magnolia provides some much needed shade in summer with its dense canopy and neat habit, making it a perfect evergreen statement tree in the landscape. This cultivar has large glossy green leaves with brown undersides, but the colours tend to be less pronounced than other varieties. Stunning large white blooms appear in summer with a sweet fragrance, making it a favourite for gardeners and garden pollinators. Magnolia ‘St Mary’ is a quick-growing type, perfect for that hedge project or tall screening.
Prune during winter to the desired shape along with any stray limbs and ensure it has adequate water once planted to promote root growth and a good development.
Magnolia ‘Coolwyn Gloss’ is another evergreen option with a variety of interest and uses. This upright magnolia has bright white, saucer-sized flowers appearing in spring and autumn. The flowers are also scented. ‘Coolwyn Gloss’ grows to up to 8m high and 5m wide, allowing it to be a great choice for large container, as well as hedging, screening or as a feature tree.
‘Coolwyn Gloss’ has large, luscious dark green glossy leaves with a velvety copper-tinged underside. It’s often compared to the ‘Exmouth’ cultivar in size and shape but differentiated by its extra glossy foliage. Once established, this variety is frost tolerant.
Like most magnolias, ‘Coolwyn Gloss’ thrives in a spot where there is full sun to partial shade. Prune this tree to shape preferably in winter.
Magnolia ‘Exmouth’ has large lustrous green leaves with furry abaxials. This variety has a conical growth habit and can reach heights of 12m with a width of 5m. As this tree grows larger than most magnolia varieties, it is an excellent feature and shade tree. During spring and summer, Magnolia ‘Exmouth’ produces creamy, fragrant flowers making it a favourite amongst landscapers.
This variety prefers a sunny spot and protection from wind when young as the branches can snap easily if it becomes top-heavy. Once established, ‘Exmouth’ can endure spells of heat and frost. Magnolia ‘Exmouth’ is a relatively quick growing magnolia making it a great choice for pleaching as it responds well to winter shape-pruning. Like other magnolia varieties, ‘Exmouth’ can be grown in large containers.
Michelia dolstopa is lovely medium-sized feature tree which provides year-round interest. Growing to 9m and 4m wide, Michelia dolstopa is a great choice for urban gardens needing big impact. This tree has dark green leathery foliage. Small, furry flower buds emerge in late winter which open to white, perfumed flowers by spring.
This species can also be used for effective screening. Given a full sun to part shade position and nutrient-rich soil, Michelia doltsopa will establish quickly. A light prune after flowering will keep this tree tidy but it is not necessary.