Magnolia soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana – Saucer Magnolia

Purple/white flowers cover this tree in early spring, before the leaves emerge.


This is a large, deciduous tree, growing to 10M in Karin’s Garden. Its flowers emerge dramatically on a bare tree in early spring, with the deciduous leaves expanding shortly thereafter, lasting through summer until autumn. The flowers are large, commonly 10–20 cm across, and colored various shades of white, pink, and maroon.


Magnolia × soulangeana was initially bred by French plantsman Étienne Soulange-Bodin (1774–1846), a retired cavalry officer in Napoleon’s army, when he crossed Magnolia denudata with M. liliiflora in 1820. Both parent species came originally from China. It has since achieved worldwide appeal and over a hundred cultivars are now known.

Magnolia is an ancient genus, appearing before the bees did. It is supposed that the flowers are robust since they evolved to be pollinated by beetles.

Soil / Aspect:

M. x soulangeana prefers acidic soil, though it is reasonably tolerant. It also prefers deep soil, where its roots will have access to moisture year round.


M. x soulangeana can be grown as a multi-stemmed shrub, with large stems being cut to the ground when they begin to resemble small trunks. However, as the picture above shows, they are truely magnificent when allowed to grow as a tree. If you are pruning this plant then make sure you cut back to the stem/trunk where the branch originates – no stumps!