Genie MagnoliaMagnolia soulangeana x liliiflora ‘Genie’ (PP# 20,748)
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Magnolia soulangeana x liliiflora ‘Genie’ (PP# 20,748)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Genie Magnolia is a compact deciduous tree reaching 12 within a decade, with a spread of about 6 feet. It has a pyramidal shape with informal horizontal branching, and large mid-green leaves dusted with gray. The flowers are 6-inch bowls with up to 12 deep purple petals, appearing in early spring on bare branches, and again in August. The perfect magnolia for smaller spaces, it is renowned for blooming profusely even when very young.
Full sun or partial shade suit the Genie Magnolia perfectly, including dappled shade beneath trees. Afternoon shade is beneficial in warmer zones. Plant in rich, acidic or neutral soil that is well-drained but moist year-round. Normally free of pests or diseases, and needing no pruning or special care, once you find a suitable location some summer watering is all it takes to enjoy this magnificent plant in your own garden.
Only occasionally in the life of a nursery-person do the great moments come – the moment when you see a plant that really sets you on your heels, blows you away, and makes you grateful you are alive. It’s a rare and valued experience, and it’s exactly what many of us are feeling when we first see the Genie Magnolia. It’s like everything we knew about growing deciduous magnolias has been stood on its head. We take a lot of things for granted about these lovely plants; they will grow large, so be careful planting in small gardens; they only flower once, so be prepared for just a brief moment of glory each year; they have to grow for some years before carrying a worthwhile show of flowers; and varieties with dark flowers struggle in zone 4. Well, the Genie Magnolia defies all those assumptions – it’s unbelievable. First, it is so small and compact that it is unlikely to pass 12 feet tall. Secondly, it blooms twice a season – the first time on bare branches and the second time among the leaves in August. It blooms when just 2 feet tall, and even very young plants can have 100 blooms. As well, it grows without problems, and with lots of flowers, even in zone 4 – and the flowers are rich, dark purple. Wow, what a list of busted assumptions! No wonder everyone is clamoring to get their hands on this beauty – and we did it for you.
The Genie Magnolia is a small deciduous tree that grows, when young, 18 to even 24 inches a year, slowing down a little to give you a plant 12 feet tall within 10 years. It has a pyramidal shape, with irregular levels of somewhat horizontal branches. We think 15 feet is probably about as tall as it will go, filling out with denser branching rather than adding height, and staying perhaps 6 feet wide. It has attractive smooth, gray bark when young, becoming darker and furrowed with age. The leaves develop as the first flush of flowers fade, and the new leaves are a bright, light green, darkening to a richer mid-green through summer and then turning yellow in fall. They are rounded ovals, about 5 inches long and 4 inches across, with a semi-mat surface caused by a soft grayish coating on the leaves, which mutes the green tones in a very attractive way.
Flower buds form in fall and pass through winter, opening early, as soon as warmer weather begins. This could be February in zone 9, March in most areas and late April in zone 4. The flowers open while the stems are bare, making a wonderful display. They are 6 to 8 inches across, upright and tulip-shaped when new, opening into flared cups as they develop over the 10 days of their life. Each flower has between 6 and 12 petals, broad, pointed ovals, colored rich deep purple, with a very thin white line along the edge. It is hard to describe how beautiful this bloom is – just check out the photographs and you will see. In all but the coldest zones you can expect a second blooming in August – with the flowers opening among the leaves – a real bonus that is another magnolia breakthrough, as previously it was only seen on a few rarer species not normally grown in gardens. Seed pods are usually only produced in any quantity on hand-pollinated plants.
A tree like this should be given pride of place, where it can be seen and enjoyed in March – perhaps outside a window of your home? Plant it at the back of shrub beds, among evergreens, or in wooded parts of your garden – it’s at home everywhere, and in all garden styles, especially Asian and Japanese-style gardens. It is also a plant that will thrive in a container for years, allowing you to move it around to max-out your enjoyment of it. Take your time choosing a planting spot, as magnolias don’t like being transplanted, if you discover you made a mistake in a few years.
The GenieMagnolia has proven to be hardy in zone 4, and it thrives through most zones, into zone 8 and also into zone 9 in the northwest, and wherever summers are not too hot and humid. Plants in containers can be left outside all winter from zone 6.
You can plant your Genie Magnolia in full sun or, especially in warmer zones, in partial shade – perhaps some tree shade in the afternoon would be idea. It also grows in the dappled shade of tall deciduous trees, but not underneath evergreens. The ideal soil is deep, rich in organic matter, acidic or neutral, and moist but well-drained. If you prepare your soil well, digging it and adding plenty of compost or rotted leaves, it will grow happily in all soils that aren’t too dry. Established plants have some drought resistance once well-established, but grow best if not allowed to dry out too much.
If you provide good growing conditions, you should have no problems with the Genie Magnolia. It is unlikely to suffer from pests or diseases. Mulch every year or two in spring with some rich organic material, and that’s it. We don’t recommend any pruning – it can permanently damage magnolias, and it is best to let this tree develop its natural beauty by itself.
The different deciduous magnolia species have been interbred and developed by many different growers over the years. The hybrid plant called Genie is the work of Vance Hooper, who owns Magnolia Grove Nursery in Waitara, New Zealand. He began by crossing a Chinese saucer magnolia, Magnolia x soulangeana `Sweet Simplicity` with a tulip magnolia, Magnolia liliiflora `Nigra`. The saucer magnolia is itself a hybrid between M. liliifolia and the Yulan magnolia, M. denudata. In 1998 he took pollen from another magnolia variety called ‘Sweet Valentine’ and used it on one of the seedlings of his earlier cross. ‘Sweet Valentine’ is itself a cross between two other M. x soulangeana varieties – confused yet? – so you can see what a complex hybrid this is. Basically, though, it is a cross between the saucer magnolia and the tulip magnolia, with a bit of Yulan magnolia thrown into the mix. In 2010 he was granted a patent on his plant, and it is also protected under European Plant Breeder Rights.
We are simply thrilled to have sourced some beautiful young plants of this highly-prized new variety. There are many different deciduous magnolias to choose from, but sadly every garden eventually has limited space. Choose the Genie Magnolia to enjoy the best, and take up only a little space – the perfect combination. We know how quickly this top-quality plant will sell out, so don’t hesitate – order now.