The Saucer or what I have commonly heard called a Tulip magnolia is one of my favorite small trees. Some varieties are small enough to be considered a shrub. It is an early bloomer along with the redbuds here in Houston. We start seeing them near the end of winter. In colder zones they wait till mid-spring to bloom.
The leafless gray branches become covered in large luscious pink blooms of 6 petals in a shape similar to a tulip in early March. As the leaves appear the flowers open into a saucer shape. It is quite eye catching in the still cold days where much of the landscape is still resting. A couple of week after they are in full bloom the petals drop off leaving a carpet of pale pink. By then the tree are covered in soft green elongated oval leaves. There are several varieties and they range in growth habits from 10-20 feet with a similar spread.
I think mine might be a Verbanica’ – “flowers clear rose pink outside, late blooming, slow-growing to 10 feet tall.” – http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st391
It makes a fine specimen tree especially in a home with a small yard if you don’t mind that it only shows off at the end of winter. I find it exciting and totally worth the wait. I planted mine where I can see it from the window where I write.
Being deciduous it is cold hardy. It tolerates light shade to full sun. Preferring morning sun and best with protection from the heat of the late afternoon. If it is planted in all day full sun it will need to be more heavily mulched and the soil kept evenly moist; otherwise it might flower before the last frost. It does fine in our heavy clay soil. But it prefers the soil to be rich with plenty of organic matter and well-drained. I have mine in a bed with plants of similar needs with it’s own shady wet micro-climate. We use organic fertilizer, shredded hardwood mulch and seaweed extract to keep the more heat sensitive plants happy. It is reported to be mildly drought tolerant but it will need regular watering. When frost comes late, like we had this year it can ruin the flowers. I only saw minimal damage in our neighborhood where these lovely trees are quite popular. The Tulip or Saucer magnolia is a hybrid of the M. heptapeta and the M. liliiflora M. heptapeta and M. liliiflora both native to Japan.
And a couple of week after they are in full bloom the petals drop off leaving a carpet of pail pink.
Here is a photograph I took over the fence of my neighbors beautiful Tulip magnolia under a large cypress tree. I have been enjoying it for years.
I took a close up using the turquoises of the house behind as a back drop. I loved the two colors together. I thought I might make prints and use them to make my own greeting cards : )