MAGNOLIA X soulangeana

Magnolia soulangeana


Grown either as a multi-stemmed large shrub or a small tree, Magnolia x soulangeana is considered by many to be one of the very best hardy, flowering specimen plants. Raised by Monsignor Étienne Soulange-Bodin in 1826 it is, in its many cultivars, perhaps the best and most popular magnolia of all.

Magnolia soulangeana flowers
It is deciduous with a wide spreading habit, and dramatically blooms before the leaves emerge in early spring. The white flowers are large, tulip-shaped and stained rose-purple at the base.

Magnolia x soulangeana is the best cultivar for tolerating indifferent clay soils and atmospheric pollution.

It is also notable for its relative tolerance to wind and alkaline soils, vulnerabilities that are common to many other magnolias.

While Magnolia x soulangeana is noted for its ease of cultivation, it is only mildly lime tolerant and certainly not suitable for soils over shallow chalk.

When planting in the garden it will require good drainage, a reasonable depth of rich soil and plenty of moisture. Magnolia x soulangeana will also requires a sheltered position so that the the early flowers have some protection against damage from late frosts. It will also benefit from the protection provided by a higher canopy of trees.

Étienne Soulange-Bodin (1774–1846) 
Étienne Soulange-Bodin (1774–1846) was a French agronomist and army officer who created this hybrid magnolia by cross-breeding Magnolia denudata with Magnolia liliiflora.

Though he is barely remembered today, he played a major role in the organization of professional horticulture in France during the early part of the 19th century.

He founded the Institut horticole, the Société d'horticulture de Paris, and became perpetual secretary of the Société royale d'agriculture.

However it wasn't just horticulture where excelled, he was also awarded the cross of the Légion d'honneur and the Iron Cross by Napoleon himself!

There are now over a hundred named horticultural varieties in cultivation, a testament to the quality and popularity of this magnificent plant.

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