Magnolia acuminata 'BLUE BABY'

Magnolia acuminata
Magnolia acuminata 'BLUE BABY'
cucumber tree, magnolia
SIZE/TYPE small tree
 taller shrub
LEAVES deciduous broadleaf
COLOUR OF FLOWERS +multicolored:blue-green and yellow
LOCATION full sun
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist (dislikes drought)
USDA zone (lowest) 4   (down to -34°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Deciduous broadleaf
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Yellow flowering varieties of magnolias are among the most sought-after, as the yellow color is still considered something unusual in magnolias. In fact, if you had walked through the original moist woodlands of North America a few hundred years ago, you would have found quite a few of them. Magnolia acuminata originates there and was given the name cucumber magnolia because it is the only species that makes flowers in various shades of green and some of its seedlings are close to yellow. Thanks to tireless breeding work, it was possible to obtain specimens with rich yellow flowers. Today, they can also have a bluish tint.

Blue Baby is an attractive miniature of the sensational Blue Opall magnolia with bluish buds. If you stand both magnolias next to each other, you will probably not find a single significant difference in the color, shape of the flower or the leaf, but everything is about a third smaller – the size of the flower, of the leaf, and the plant itself. The flowers develop from pointed buds that have a striking, steel-blue frosting. Once opened, they reveal pale banana yellow color of the inner petals, which almost never fully open and usually remain upright like tulips. It has a faint fragrance. A great advantage over many early varieties is their late flowering season (second half of May), mostly at the same time as the leaves emerge, so they avoid dangerous late frosts. The flower buds are not as obvious as on earlier species and the flower often surprises you on a branch where you would never expect a flower to form.

Deciduous leaves are broadly ovate, large and have a bright green color that remains fresh until the end of summer. It grows upright, medium fast to a narrow conical to columnar shape. Being too young, the mature height of this variety has not yet been determined, but it is estimated at 4-5 m. It mostly does not suffer from diseases or pests and can handle even temporary waterlogging.

Magnolias are not supposed to be pruned. You can prune old shrubs if they are ill, or trim them to shape or to reduce size, or make an elementary cut to young plants of unsightly or unhealthy appearance. Do this as soon as possible after flowering to secure setting of flower buds for the following year. Be aware that each magnolia can respond to pruning differently.

Deciduous magnolias are quite easy plants. All they need is light, well-drained, acidic soil with equal moisture throughout the year. Once established they can do with occasional drought as well as excess water but will not look as nice as the ones with regular watering. Just pay attention to how to plant your magnolia. First, find it a spot where it will live forever and ever. It does not like transplanting. And as it makes shallow roots reaching well over its spread, stay away from disturbing the roots by digging or messing about around it. Just cover the soil with bark mulch and do not plant anything else near it after say the second year after planting onwards. You could damage the very important top roots that absorb maximum moisture and nutrients from the soil. Also avoid planting magnolia too deep. This way you could be digging its grave. Cucumber magnolia is very hardy, some sources even claim it can survive -40 °C (USDA zone 3) which we weren’t able to prove. Keep it always mulched as a prevention from drying out.

Last update 05-01-2008; 09-02-2017

  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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