Japanese or Saucer magnolias, Magnolia x soulangiana, have long been
appreciated for their display of flowers in late winter and early spring. Their
primary flaw is that their purplish pink flowers usually open in late winter
and are often damaged by late freezes. Fortunately there are many new hybrid
magnolias offering larger flowers, later blooming (so as to avoid frost damage)
and a wide range of flower colors, plant sizes and habits.
In today’s article, I’ll share with you information provided by Dr. Gary Knox,
UF/IFAS researcher at the North Florida Research and Education Center in
Quincy, concerning new hybrid magnolias to look for.
Gresham hybrid magnolias are noted for producing large numbers of flowers up to
12 inches in diameter on vigorous, small to medium trees. Flowers range in
color from deep purple-red to alabaster white and typically occur somewhat
later than those of Japanese magnolia.
Two outstanding Gresham hybrids are ‘Dark Shadow’ and ‘Jon Jon’. ‘Dark Shadow’
has deep, reddish-purple flowers. It flowers heavily in mid to late spring and
then continues to produce flowers sporadically through mid-summer. Jon Jon’s
12-inch diameter flowers appear one to three weeks after those of Japanese
magnolia and are creamy white with a reddish-purple blush at the base. Other
promising Gresham hybrid magnolias are ‘Winelight’, ‘Pink Goblet’, ‘Full
Eclipse’ and ‘Darrell Dean’.
Galyon hybrid magnolias are from Dr. Frank Galyon of Knoxville, Tenn. He has
produced hybrids including ‘Emma Cook’, ‘Paul Cook’, ‘Raspberry Swirl’ and ‘Frank’s
Masterpiece’. Knox’s personal favorite is ‘Paul Cook’ because of its soft pink
flowers that are 10 inches in diameter.
Jury hybrid magnolias are known for flowering at a young age. Cultivars include
‘Mark Jury’, ‘Atlas’, ‘Lolanthe’, ‘Athene’, ‘Apollo’ and ‘Milky Way’. And the
cultivar ‘Vulcan’ produces flowers that allegedly the most “true red” of all
The late Dr. August Kehr is known for his yellow-flowering magnolia hybrids but
the cultivar ‘Daybreak’ is one of his greatest achievements. ‘Daybreak’
represents a “color break” for magnolias because its flowers are rose pink, not
the purplish pink usually found in magnolia flowers.
Gresham, Galyon, Jury and Kehr Hybrid Magnolias are becoming more popular and
more readily available in plant nurseries. You may find two Gresham hybrids, ‘Jon Jon’ and ‘Dark Shadow’, more widely available. Otherwise, these and other
magnolia cultivars can be found at specialty nurseries.
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