Using Magnolia

Use magnolias as individual specimens for shade, or in groups for screens or borders. Include them in a mixed garden bed with perennials and annuals. A backdrop of tall evergreens shows off their blooms spectacularly. The smaller magnolias grow in containers 2 to 3 feet wide by 1 to 1-1/2 feet deep. Sometimes they're trained as espaliers against a fence or wall in warmer areas and in the West. As city trees, magnolias are not suitable for lining streets, but they are ideal for yards and park areas.

Magnolia buds, fruits, flowers, and twigs are all useful in arrangements for indoor display over the seasons. Enjoy them ahead of schedule by forcing early flowering from bud-laden branches of Saucer and Star Magnolias in January and February before they bloom outdoors in your area. Choose a mild day and cut branches during the warmest part, usually mid afternoon, so that the buds hold maximum sap. Prune properly so that you do not distort the natural shape of the tree or leave stubs on the remaining branches where you cut. Use clean, sharp hand pruners or loppers to make clean, smooth cuts.

Crush or split the cut ends of the woody branches to encourage their uptake of water and promptly put them in a container of warm water laced with commercial floral preservative or citrus-based carbonated soda keep it fresh. Set the container in a cool, dark place until the buds begin to enlarge. This may take 2 or 3 weeks. When the buds start to show their color, transfer the branches to a vase with fresh water, and move them into a light room so you can watch them unfold.

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