Magnolia Stellata: Spring Glory

star magnolia blooms

Springtime in the North is a great burst of pent up waiting, the cold holds blooms in check until the warmth of the season change can no longer be contained. Then we have a surge of blooming. If the blooms are a bit early they are always in danger of late frosts, but that is the chance we take.

magnolia stellata bloom

The Magnolia Stellata is one of the earlier blooming trees in the landscape here. As such it is Queen over its spring domain, but it is also subject to the frosts shortening that reign to a briefer time than the gardener would wish. Every once in while we have the perfect conditions for a long bloom, and assiduous judgment placing this beautiful ornamental tree can provide more.

Nature Hills Magnolia Stellata

When to Plant

The Springtime is the season to plant new magnolia trees. Magnolias do not transplant well, and will resent it if you move them once they are established so plant them during the spring season so they can get established before the cold weather of winter. Their fleshy roots are surface feeders and shallow; but they are fairly easy to plant for all that. The reason provided for spring planting preference(according to Winter-Flowering Shrubs by Michael W. Buffin): because these trees put in most of their growth during the early part of the season, slowing up in fall and wintertime.

How to Grow Magnolia Stellata

They like full sun, and in the North it helps to protect from morning sun to prevent being brought into bloom earlier than is ideal in this climate. As it is, we often lose the bloom to late frost, but when they are given half a chance they are a cloud of white starry blooms.

The best advice is to mulch them well. As the trees mature their fallen leaves provide something of a “self-mulch” which is good to leave on the ground. Bark mulches may be used, too.

These trees appreciate moisture, but not wet and soggy ground. Mulching with leaf mold or wood bark serves more than one purpose: retains moisture, keeps down weeds, and feeds organic matter to the tree.

Ornamental Features

  1. Magnolia stellata is good for small gardens
  2. It is covered with pure white blooms in the spring
  3. Can be grown close to the house, reaching no more than 15′, usually closer to 8′.
  4. Very cold hardy, zones 4-8
  5. Flowering can last from 10-20 days.

Good Planting Tips And Care For Star Magnolias

the silver buds of magnolia stellata

One of the best things to do for a new star magnolia is to plant with plenty of organic matter, I have had beautiful blooms and I don’t fertilize it, but I think my tree does so well because bone meal and organic amendments were incorporated at the time it was planted.

I don’t ever prune it, it is a small tree and well-formed; but you can carefully prune it if you wish. I think it is attractively twiggy and compact as it is.

Some experts mention that this ornamental tree prefers alkaline soil, others say acid, but mine is neutral and that seems to suit it fine.

It is safe to say that nothing extreme is desirable, in pH or moisture, and certainly not wind. Most common garden conditions would qualify to grow it, which helps explain its popularity.

early blooming Here is an earlier picture of my magnolia when quite young. One of the satisfactory things about this tree is how it blooms even when very young. All the photos here are of my tree in different years.

Royal Horticultural Society publication


  1. Often loses bloom to late frosts in Zone 5.
  2. Very slow growth to full size. Although this might be an asset in a small space.

The Redbud tree and the Fringe tree are also flowering, ornamental trees excellent for a smaller garden. See the page on Spring flowering shrubs, too.