Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
Saucer Magnolias, the product of a cross between a Japanese and a Chinese magnolia, providing a reliably cold-hardy version of magnolia making Saucer Magnolias one of the most popular magnolias in the northern United States. Also known as Tulip Magnolia, the Saucer Magnolia is hardy in zones 5 through 9. Compared to its large cousin the Southern Magnolia, it will reach a height of only 10 to 20 feet and with a spread of 10 to 20 feet showing an upright and open habit.
Its leaves are medium green in the summer and brown in the fall. The very showy flowers pop in early spring before the leaves emerge but unfortunately often before the last frost which turns them to mush. The 5 to 8 inch wide, fragrant, saucer-shaped blossoms are usually white with a pink or purplish blush on the undersides of their outer petals. When they avoid the frost they are spectacular!
Saucer Magnolia Choices
There is considerable effort among the breeders to develop cultivars of this tree with a later blooming period to escape the late frosts. In the meantime, Alba has white flowers with purplish outside petals. It is a very compact tree. Andre LeRoy has cup-shaped flowers. Burgundy has deep purple flowers but is an early bloomer. Lennei has dark, purplish-magenta flowers. Verbanica is good in the Midwest, having clearer pink flowers than most of this type.