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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 11, 2012

From: Coram, NY
Region: Select Region
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Planting, Trees
Title: Search for Silver Magnolia from Coram NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, 20+ years ago I purchased a small tree labeled Silver Magnolia from a catalog. It was a sapling about 8 inches high when I first received it but amazing! The bloom the first year was as big as my hand, and as the lighting changed it went from white to pale blue to pale lavender. the flower appeared to be so delicate yet when touched was very sturdy.I had to move into an apartment and begged a friend to take it, it was 2 feet tall, but she declined. I have moved again into a home and have been trying to replace this little tree yet I can't find it, or the true name. I went back but the new owners must have removed it. Please help, I have a spot saved in my yard for 10 years hoping to find this tree. Thank You, Cheryl

ANSWER:

We are sorry, but we pretty well exhausted our resources and found lots of Silver Spring or Silver Bay magnolias, not a Silver Magnolia. If you bought that plant 20 years ago, it was almost undoubtedly a trade name given to it by the company selling it. The closest we came to finding it was a website with oriental lettering, which was not working.

What we would like to suggest, since you fell in love with a magnolia, is that you look for a native magnolia  tree that you like, instead of pursuing a plant in your memory that you may never find. That catalog and mail order nursery may have gone out of business all those years ago, taking the trade name with them. Follow each plant link below to our website on that plant. This will tell you its growing conditions, water and sunlight needs and bloom time and color. There are 9 magnolias native to North America and 4 native to New York State, all of them in the southern part of New York in Orange,Westchester and Suffolk Counties. Ordinarily,  the magnolia is considered a tree for the southeast states, but apparently the presence of the Atlantic Ocean around Long Island, where you live,  modifies the climate sufficiently to allow the magnolia to grow. The magnolias native to New York are:

Magnolia acuminata (Cucumbertree)

Magnolia fraseri (Mountain magnolia)

Magnolia tripetala (Umbrella tree)

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay)

Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to discover growiing conditions, light and water needs and bloom time.

In Texas, we recommend that trees be planted in cool weather, from November to January. Either late Fall or early Spring would probably be better where you are, but we recommend you contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office for Suffolk CO. for that information.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Cucumbertree
Magnolia acuminata

Mountain magnolia
Magnolia fraseri

Umbrella tree
Magnolia tripetala

Sweetbay
Magnolia virginiana

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