When you’re a plant lover, any trip abroad can become a busman’s holiday. That’s exactly what happened to Vance Hooper on his honeymoon, as he marvelled at Magnolias in Cornwall and Belgium. This eventually inspired him to create a very special, hardy, compact line of varieties!
Such breeding makes a lot of sense – how often have you admired stately Magnolias, but knew you simply didn’t have the space for them?
How to grow Magnolia ‘Starburst’:
Flowering time: April to May
How was this plant created?
So, back to this honeymoon… As Vance and his new wife toured Cornwall, it was just the right time of year to enjoy copious amounts of Magnolia. But, the trip didn’t stop there; they also crossed the Channel and spend some time at Wespelaar Arboretum in Belgium.
Here, Vance was taken by how hardy and compact the Magnolia cylindrica species was. It isn’t a handsome species, so he had never noticed its merits before. But it seems there were a few hidden qualities!
He took a leap of faith in 2007 when he made his first cross! He combined Magnolia cylindrica with the gorgeous red Magnolia ‘Genie’. It was fruitful, and he soon had 230 seedlings to plant out and assess! One particular plant stood out, as the flowers had a frosting across the tepal.
What’s different about this plant?
This is a Magnolia that anyone can enjoy, whatever size of garden they have. The plant of ‘Starburst’ was notable, not just for the frosted blooms, but also for its much-coveted pyramidal habit. It was trialled both in southern and northern hemispheres, and passed with flying colours! Testing can be a lengthy process though, but it’s important so you can be confident about how the plant will perform.
‘Starburst’ shows off immensely with its frosted blooms, but it certainly backs it up by being a good all-round garden plant, perfect for smaller spaces and mega hardy. Whilst not huge blooms, the whole plant is in all the right proportions for smaller gardens or container culture. It’ll grow to its mature height within around 8 years too, so there’s less waiting than with the ‘big daddy magnolias’!
Where can you plant Magnolia ‘Starburst’?
When growing in containers, use a loam-based soil (which is usually slightly acidic, which they’ll love), and keep plants well-watered, especially during hot summers. Assign a friend for magnolia watering duties if you must!
Go for a big container too, and keep your plants happy with a fresh top dressing of compost each year. As an example, a 45cm (18in) square pot should support a Magnolia that’s 140cm in height. Avoid cold winds and excess wet in the winter too!
Where can you buy this plant?
This Magnolia is still very new, so there ain’t many suppliers yet! However, I have found one here.
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 ‘Starburst’ was created by Vance Hooper, you can find out more about his creations here.
See every Plant of the Month here.