Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Guiding communities and regions toward vibrant and sustainable futures.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
Spring is a glorious season in the Natural State, and each year we gardeners excitedly
prowl garden paths looking for signs of activity. One of the hard-to-miss markers
of the passing of winter is the blooming of deciduous magnolias. These come in a
wide array of clones that bloom during the iffy days of late winter up until later
in the spring, when their blooming is assured.
Magnolias are an old group of flowering plants with recognizable fossil relatives
dating back at least 95 million years during the reign of the dinosaurs. Because
they began their march into the present while the continents were shuffling around
and before major mountain ranges formed, they are scattered widely about the globe.
Being one of the first flowering plant families, they appeared before bees so their
flowers are pollinated by beetles, and in modern times, by man.
As with many plants, DNA analysis of the species historically considered “magnolias”
has created more confusion than clarity. Before DNA analysis, our native southern
magnolia fit comfortably in the group we know as magnolias.
But about 20 years ago, lab work showed that our evergreen southern magnolia was more
distantly related to the Asian deciduous magnolias than previously thought. To make
matters worse, the Asian magnolias were more closely related to a group of magnolia
family relatives assigned to distinct genera than they were to our southern magnolia.
So the number of magnolias in the genus is a bit confused, ranging from about 120
species to 280.
The white or light pink flowered Magnolia stellata, the star magnolia, is a multi-petaled shrubby tree growing to 15 feet that blooms
very early in the garden, making it extremely susceptible to frost damage.
The deciduous flowering magnolias that bloom in our gardens in early spring are mostly
of hybrid origins, a process that began in France in 1820. The first of these hybrids
was created by a retired and frustrated Napoleonic war veteran who crossed the Chinese
species M. denudate and M. liliiflora to create the early flowering Magnolia x soulangeana, the saucer magnolia. This old lavender and white flowered stalwart is still grown to the delight and frustration
of gardeners everywhere. While beautiful, these 30-foot-tall rounded trees bloom
so early that late spring freezes destroy the opening blooms two years out of five
In the 1955-56, a pair of U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists working at the
National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. made a series of magnolia crosses with the
goal of pushing the blooming time back to avoid bloom loss. In 1968, William Kosar
released eight selections, all given girl names, that all bloom about two weeks later
than the saucer or star magnolia. “Jane” is the most common in the trade, probably
because it is easiest to root, but the rosy, larger flowered “Ann” is my favorite.
The yellow to cream flowered deciduous magnolias are based on our native cucumber
tree (M. acuminata) being crossed with the Chinese Yulan magnolia (M. denudata). “Elizabeth” was the first of these and was patented in 1977; since then “Butterflies,”
“Gold Star,” “Goldfinch” and many more have been introduced. The beautiful pink flowered
“Daybreak” has the cucumber magnolia as a grandparent and is, in my opinion, one of
the best magnolias for springtime display. These hybrids are mostly larger trees
in the 30-40 foot range and bloom about 3-4 weeks after the saucer magnolias but still
before leaves appear.
Deciduous magnolias are perfect specimen plants for the springtime garden. Planting
on north-facing slopes or where they get some afternoon shade in the spring will delay
early blooming and perhaps forestall freeze damage to the blooms. As a group they
are easy to grow in average soil conditions and once established are long lived in
For more information about horticulture or to see other Plant of the Week columns,
visit Extension's Web site,
http://www.uaex.uada.edu/, or contact your county extension agent. The Cooperative Extension Service is part
of the U of A Division of Agriculture.
The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division
of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race,
color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status,
or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity