The bijou garden beauty: Magnolia ‘Genie’

If you were granted three wishes for a plant, what qualities would you wish for? Whatever you choose, I’m guessing the result would be a plant like Magnolia ‘Genie’! It’s a bloody handsome plant, in or out of leaf, with voluptuous, dark blooms. The size of ‘Genie’ also makes Magnolias within reach of small garden owners and those with only a balcony.
Magnolia 'Genie'
The Genie of the lamp grants us 3 wishes with this cracking new Magnolia!
  1. A good garden plant with healthy foliage, compact and flowers freely.
  2. A long flowering season of 3 months, and always good coloured.
  3. The pedigree is second to none, all offspring are strong and colourful, like their parent!
Magnolia ‘Genie’
Wherever I’ve seen this plant in display, it has been crowded by people with camera phones and notepads. Everyone in the trade wants to offer it to their customer, everyone at home wants to grow it. It’s a no brainer! Not only is this a Magnolia of a manageable size, but the blooms are a work of art in themselves- deep maroon (some say black!), waxy and lasting many weeks. Plants will also flush twice, once on bare stems, and once alongside the healthy green foliage.
The unapologetic, oversized flowers are 15cm in diameter, and have a lovely fragrance. You’ll want to eat them, well in fact you can, but that’s another story… Plants are not only compact and easy to manage, but they also flower at a young age, so the plant is great for ‘impatient gardeners’ like me!

How was this plant created?

The complex family heritage of this new variety needs some explaining..
Magnolia ‘Genie’ is the result of 12 years of breeding, over two generations of family. This was all carried out meticulously by Vance Hooper in New Zealand.
The two grandfathers of the family bring the colour; thank you to ‘Black Tulip’ and liliiflora ‘Nigra’! Magnolia ‘Genie’ also shares a common grandmother on both sides in the variety ‘Sweet Simplicity’, which was discovered as a wrongly labelled, starving root bound plant in a garden centre, but it had the selling point of two flower buds. A key link in the genetic profile of ‘Genie’!
The pollen parent is ‘Sweet Valentine’, and the seed parent is a sister to ‘Old Port’… I hope you’re keeping up! This family has also given birth to ‘Cameo’ and ‘Cleopatra’ on one side of the family, and ‘Old Port’ on the other.
To make this easier to understand, I’ve put together a family tree for the Magnolia ‘Genie’! See below:
Magnolia 'Genie' family tree

What’s different about this plant?

As soon as ‘Genie’ flowered, Vance started grafting it onto strong rootstock. Amazingly, after just 2 years from seed, ‘Genie’ was producing five flower buds per plant, at just 70cm tall! The following year it had about 100 flowers! The seed prodigy from this was sown in 2000 and the first release in New Zealand was in 2006, with a crop of about 1600 field budded plants.
This speed to market is something of a record in itself, and testament to the pedigree of this plant.
The Genie of the lamp really had granted those three wishes: strong plants, amazing flowers and a prestigious pedigree!

Where can you plant Magnolia ‘Genie’?

In many more places than standard Magnolias, that’s where, thanks to the compact size and well-behaved habit! This Magnolia isn’t going to become an unwieldy backyard monster in the slightest. Upright small trees fit into most urban spaces, or can be grown in decorative containers. Your Magnolia ‘Genie’ will enjoy a moist, well-drained soil, which can be natural or slightly acidic.
Magnolia 'Genie' with woman posing
Where can you buy this plant?
Plants are available in garden centres across Europe, or by mail order from here in the UK, and here in the USA.
How to grow Magnolia ‘Genie’:
Flowering time: April and again in August
Location: Borders, large patio pots
Soil: Moist, well-drained soil (neutral to acidic)
Light: Sun
Hardy: Survives down to -15C! Plant are deciduous.
Care: Prune in early spring, just to keep shape and tidy up!
Size: 4m (12′) high x 1.2cm (4′) in spread
Magnolia 'Genie'
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe (with Concept Plants doing the same job in North America). Magnolia ‘Genie’ was selected by Vance Hooper (https://magnoliagrove.co.nz/)

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