Deciduous Early Development Part II: Magnolia

Michael Hagedorn

An infrequently used deciduous genus for bonsai, Magnolia nonetheless offers a unique, bold personality among our ranks of status-quo Tridents and Elms.

Most commonly used for bonsai is Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata, among the Magnolia species options. The Star Magnolia is a modest shrub or minor tree rather than one of the massive flowering tree Magnolias that fill out the genus. The flowers have a cartoon-like quality, unexpectedly large and not in keeping with bonsai as usual, but beautiful. Usually the delicate flowers of stellata are white or tinged with pink.

Magnolia back buds fairly well. But keeping the internodes short on growing shoots is the key to unlocking an even buddier, bushier plant—mirroring the challenges Japanese Maple, from last week’s post.

And to repeat our theme for this series, we can keep internodes shorter by leaving more than we really want in the beginning years. This is is…

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