A botanical first at Powell Gardens

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A botanical first at Powell Gardens

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

This flower is a botanical first! It is the first hybrid between China’s Red Lotus Tree (Manglietia insignis — now lumped with magnolias by taxonomists) and the ‘Colossus’ cultivar of Oyama Magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii). Dennis Ledvina, renowned magnolia hybridizer, made the cross to get the rich color of the unhardy Red Lotus Tree into the superior flower of hardy Colossus Oyama Magnolia. This is only a second season seedling we planted directly in the gardens in a site I thought it would thrive.

Senior Gardener Janet Heter planted this new magnolia and has cared for it through the season. We planted it not far from some Oyama Magnolias, which absolutely require shade in our hot summers.

The flower has the rich dark stamens in the center typical of the Oyama Magnolia as well as a very nice aroma. Oyama magnolias normally bloom for us in late spring with a sporadic bloom into summer and even fall. This seedling will probably do the same and we will propagate the plant.

A side view of the flower shows that it does have the downward face of the oyama magnolia and the flower has many petals that almost make it look like a sacred lotus flower. We know it will hold its color and substance in the heat as it was 89F when I took the picture! We are thrilled to show this botanical first for those who support Powell Gardens and thank Dennis Ledvina for sending us two seedlings for trial. The sister seedling is quite different with larger leaves and has not bloomed yet. We’ll keep you posted!