Saucer Magnolia

Magnolia x soulangeana

Saucer Magnolia

Magnolia x soulangeana

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Saucer Magnolia is a multi-stem deciduous tree growing a little more than 20 feet tall, with an irregular rounded crown about 20 feet across. Young trees grow rapidly, and bloom while still young. The light-gray branches develop picturesque twisted forms that are charming in winter. The mid-green leaves are large, and turn gold and burnt orange in fall. Flowers open in early spring on the bare branches, continuing often into early summer among the new leaves. They are 6 inches or more across, upright bells opening into a bowl, and the petals are white inside and purple-pink on the outside, darkest at the base with streaks towards the tips. This classic early hybrid magnolia is perfect for a lawn specimen, by water or edging a woodland. Easy to grow, reliable and stunning in bloom.

  • White and purple blooms on the bare branches
  • Flowers in early spring
  • Rounded multi-stem tree to over 20 feet tall
  • Reliable and beautiful blooms while still young
  • A classic variety of great beauty

Grow your Saucer Magnolia in full sun, afternoon shade, or the light shade beneath deciduous trees. It should be grown in rich soil that is acidic or neutral, and moist but well-drained. Pests and diseases are rare, and this tree should not be pruned. It is easy to grow once you have found a good location for it. Some organic mulch and summer watering are very beneficial.

Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9
Mature Width 20-25
Mature Height 20-25
Sun Needs Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones 5-9

Winter can be a challenge. The cold, gray and short days can bring us all down, so when spring comes we don’t want to wait around too long for the joy of flowers. That’s why the Saucer Magnolia is so popular – and it really deserves it. Few joys can match the pleasure from simply gazing at those remarkable, exotic blooms perched bravely on bare gray branches – a thing of beauty and a metaphor for adversity overcome and the power of life. But enough philosophy. The Saucer Magnolia is simply a wonderful spring-flowering tree that no garden big enough should be without. The large flowers – purple on the outside, white inside – and the elegant form of the twisting branches make it essential, if you love beauty. Despite the mystique this is actually an easy tree to grow, and when young it grows rapidly, so it isn’t long before you are rewarded with a lovely spring display you will never tire of. It becomes in time an elegant tree over 20 feet tall and wide, so consider the location carefully, especially since it won’t appreciate you trying to transplant it in a few years. If you can, place it where you can see it through a window, as early spring can be cold, or plant it along the edge of a natural woodland for a spectacular seasonal highlight.

Growing the Saucer Magnolia

Size and Appearance

The Saucer Magnolia is a deciduous tree renowned for its spring blooms. Young trees grow at a moderate pace, adding 12 to 24 inches of new growth, then slowing down, maturing into a small tree of grace and charm, usually a little more than 20 feet tall, with a rounded, irregular crown with a 20 foot spread. It is often multi-stem, or it can be trained to a single trunk. Young stems are smooth and light gray, becoming darker and rougher with age, and the branches develop attractive twisted forms that are striking in winter, and when it is in bloom. The leaves are elegant ovals, between 3 and 6 inches long, tapering to a broad point. They are mid-green, and semi-mat, with a soft, downy underside. In fall they turn golden yellow and rusty orange.

The large flowers are carried on the bare branches in late winter and early spring. In very warm zones that can be February, but March or April are more normal. New leaves follow quickly, and often the last flowers are still on the tree in May, among the new leaves. Blooms are upright, carried singly or in clusters, and blooming is often profuse, even from an early age. At first the blooms are bell-shaped, with long petals tapering to a pointed tip. As they develop they curl open, creating a broad, bowl-shaped bloom typically 4 to 6 inches across, but sometimes as much as 10 inches across. The outside of the 9 or 10 petals (technically called ‘tepals’) are dark purple-pink, deepest at the base and shading towards the tip, with fine lines following the veins upwards. The three outermost petals are noticeably smaller than the others. The inside of the bloom is pure white, surrounding a central column of light-yellow stamens. The seed pods that sometimes develop are about 3 inches long, like fat, knobby fingers. They are green, turning brown and then opening to reveal bright-red seeds.

Using the Saucer Magnolia in Your Garden

The Saucer Magnolia is a wonderful lawn specimen, or plant it in natural settings among deciduous trees, such as along the edge of a woodland, or in clearings. It is a perfect choice for a larger Asian-themed garden, or for growing around your home, perhaps close to a tall blank wall. Consider its final size carefully when choosing a location, as transplanting an established tree is often not successful. Plant near a pond or lake, and allow 10 feet minimum distance from walls, fences, property lines and other potential obstructions.


The Saucer Magnolia is hardy from zone 5 to zone 8, and in zone 9 where summers are not too hot and humid, such as along the west coast. For zone 4, check out the Star Magnolia.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Full sun in cooler zones, or afternoon shade in warmer ones, suits the Saucer Magnolia perfectly. It prefers richer, acidic or neutral soils, but with good preparation it can be grown in any garden. The ideal soil is moist but well-drained, and avoid wet places. If planting near a lake, build up a mound if necessary, so that you have 18 inches of soil above the water table – the water will be appreciated, but it will find its own way to it. Established plants will tolerate some summer drought, but regular watering is preferred.

Maintenance and Pruning

Once you have a good location and good soil, the Saucer Magnolia will take care of itself. Pests or diseases normally don’t occur. Some mulch will be appreciated, and perhaps some tree fertilizer on poorer soils, but pruning is not recommended, as trees often don’t recover well, and the natural form is the best.

History and Origin of the Saucer Magnolia

The Saucer Magnolia, Magnolia x soulangeana, is a hybrid tree developed in the early 19th century from two species native to China. The breeder took pollen from the tulip magnolia, Magnolia liliifolia, and used it to pollinate the Yulan magnolia, Magnolia denudata. This was done by Étienne Soulange-Bodin, a retired cavalry officer from Napoleon’ defeated army, at his Château de Fromont, outside Paris. The pollination was in 1820, and by 1826 the first seedling was blooming. The various seedlings were distributed around, some of them being given particular names. The plants we are offering probably come from a seedling that found its way to the Netherlands, and became the standard for the Dutch horticultural industry, before being brought to America.

Buying the Saucer Magnolia at the Tree Center

The Saucer Magnolia is a garden classic that no garden should be without, even if you also grow other hybrids and magnolias. It was the first, and still among the best of the many magnolias available, and it’s easy to grow and always admired by everyone. Order now, as this historic form is rarely still available – it may not be back again.

Back to top

Saucer Magnolia

Magnolia x soulangeana