Manglietia - Growing Guide

Growing Manglietia insignis

(Now reclassified as Magnolia insignis)

Historically the hardiness of these huge evergreen trees may have been limited to milder western counties in the UK. That is not, however, to say that, with a run of milder winters and climate warming, more woodland gardens will not be able to try to grow other species from this genus of magnificent summer flowering trees. M. insignis first came to Caerhays in the early 1920s and was collected by George Forrest, the great plant hunter, for my great-grandfather, JC Williams.

Today one of the four original Caerhays plants of M. insignis is a UK and Ireland record tree of around 70-80ft in height. The tree is planted on a north facing slope and most years the top of the tree is defoliated in the wind over winter. It may look a bit unsightly until the new growth re-emerges in early May but this is a resilient tree which can readily cope with a bit of defoliation or hard winters in maturity.

The magnolia flowers appear in July and August all over the tree. They are cream in colour with a flash of red or pink from the base which fades as the flowers open. The scent is considerable but high up in the tree.

In more recent years several new and untried species of Manglietia have been introduced to Cornish gardens and, in 2019, several of these flowered for the first time but none has yet set seed. M. insignis does produce viable seed at Caerhays but they are hard to locate when they drop into the undergrowth below the tree.

Manglietia moto, M. kwangtungensis, M. grandis, M. chingii and M. decidua are now well established at Caerhays and the first three of these have now achieved flowering size after 15 or so years. M. decidua, which is occasionally available on the Burncoose website, has flowered at Tregrehan Garden but not yet at Caerhays. 


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