Magnolias

Magnolias

Part of Ep. 1302 Lettuce Grow!

In Blanchardville, Shelley Ryan and Larry Cadman explore some beautiful, hardy varieties of magnolias. Many are suitable for Wisconsin's climate despite their Southern inclinations

Premiere date: Jun 29, 2005

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
Gardening is all about choices. We don't have to settle for one kind of tomato, or only one color of flower, or one variety of lettuce. Welcome to the Wisconsin Gardener. I'm Shelley Ryan. Today, we're going to learn how to grow lettuce and look at some of the wonderful varieties to choose from. And it isn't just for salad anymore. Chef Rafe Montello is going to teach us to cook lettuce. We also visit a rain garden and learn why these gardens can really pay off. And a gardener near Viroqua shares her heirloom recipe for violet jelly. But first up, we travel to a hilltop nursery near Blanchardville to look at hardy magnolias. It's all coming up on the Wisconsin Gardener.

Major funding for the Wisconsin Gardener is provided by: Ariens Company producer of Ariens zero-turn mowers, Ariens Sno-Thro machines and Gravely commercial power equipment. Brillion, Wisconsin. Funding is also provided by a grant from the University of Wisconsin-Extension Horticulture Team. More information about UW-Extension gardening education is available at your county UW-Extension office and on the Web. UW-Extension, learning for life. Additional funding is provided by: the Wisconsin Master Gardeners Association; the Madison Chapter of the Wisconsin Landscape Contractor's Association, on the Web at landscapemadison.com and by The Potters Garden in Cambridge, makers of Guy Wolff garden pottery on the Web at: guywolff.com

Shelley:
We are in remote southern Wisconsin near Blanchardville, in Cucumber Tree Nursery. I'm with the owner of the nursery, Larry Cadman. Larry, this a beautiful spot, but I can't find the cucumbers.

Larry Cadman:
Well, I think that's the cucumber.

Shelley:
Then, I'm glad I didn't look too hard! This is a magnolia tree. And this is where the name-- Is one kind of tree named "cucumber tree"?

Larry:
Magnolia acuminata is called "cucumber tree."

Shelley:
And you think it's because of that?

Larry:
Yeah, right.

Shelley:
That's one reason to grow a magnolia. It's got a really strange name. You specialize in magnolias. You've been kind of a tree lover since day one. Tell us about the magnolias that you're growing.

Larry:
I started out with a pure cucumber trees.

Shelley:
And is that a native tree?

Larry:
To the southeastern United States. There are a few trees locally that somebody planted way back when, even in the Twin Cities, so they're hardy.

Shelley:
Because they look so exotic, they don't look hardy. Magnolias should be planted more often than we're doing it. Anywhere in Wisconsin?

Larry:
I think a cucumber tree-- The others, I don't know. There's 80 or more species. And some of them are really subtropical. There's maybe four species hardy here. Cucumber tree, umbrella magnolia, that's Magnolia tripetala. Huge leaves and a big, white flower. And fruits, four inches by two inches that turn pink in fall. It's a real tropical appearance.

Shelley:
That's good enough for me. You said there were a couple others?

Larry:
Magnolia kobus, that's an Asian species. And Magnolia sieboldii, that might be questionable.

Shelley:
So, maybe a sheltered location.

Larry: Give it afternoon sun protection. And it's beautiful when it blooms, little white flowers with a pretty center. Let's see, that's the four.

Shelley: You said you're doing a lot of hybridizing. In fact, this is one of your babies that you've bred. So, you're breeding to try to continue working on hardiness for gardeners?

Larry:
Yeah, they have to be hardy or they won't...

Shelley:
Yeah, you're up on a hill.

Larry:
I use Magnolia acuminata for hardiness. I've lost the tag for this tree, so I don't know the parents. But the yellow color says there's cucumber tree in it.

Shelley:
This is absolutely beautiful. Prettiness is one reason to grow them hardiness is another good reason to grow them.

Larry:
Diversity.

Shelley:
Diversity how?

Larry: Well, the more species you can plant the more pest-resistant your garden will be.

Shelley: That's true.

Larry:
Magnolias, according to what I've read the gypsy moth or Japanese beetle won't touch them.

Shelley:
That's the best reason yet. Those are going to be real problems here and already are. Okay, one is going in my back yard. What about bloom time, are they short-lived?

Larry:
The blooming period for most of them is just a week or two. But if you pick the right cultivars, you should be able to have a bloom in your garden from very early spring till the frost in fall.

Shelley:
So, if you pick several varieties, you could have something to look at all the time. What about flower color?

Larry:
White, yellow...

Shelley:
These are my favorites.

Larry:
Purple, pink... Anything in between, depending on the cultivar.

Shelley:
So, all sorts of reasons to grow them. Okay, what about care? Something this exotic looking I assume, is very time consuming.

Larry:
Well, they need a good soil. They're not very drought tolerant. But you see my low-maintenance garden, here.

Shelley:
Okay, I can do this.

Larry:
The only thing that I do do, if it's getting really dry in the fall I get the hose out here and soak them up good. Most of them want full sun.

Shelley:
It sounds like a good, rich soil, so maybe not a clay soil.

Larry:
If you've got a good garden soil, you're in business.

Shelley:
What about care, pruning?

Larry:
This is not a good example. Most of them are terminal dominant. It's a conifer.

Shelley:
So, you basically have one central trunk and most of them going straight up all by itself.

Larry:
If you see two trunks, cut one of them off.

Shelley: When it's young.

Larry:
When it's small, and end the problem.

Shelley:
There's one problem, only, it really sounds like that's planting depth. They're susceptible to root rot.

Larry:
Don't plant them too deep. One time, I had some cucumbers trees in five-gallon pots. They grew about three feet that summer and died back during the winter, severely. So, I abandoned them 15 years ago. The pots are sitting there yet. The trees are this big around and 20 feet tall. They rooted through the drain holes and there they are.

Shelley:
So, two pieces of advice. Don't plant them too deep and don't give up on them. They do die back sometimes, but be patient.

Larry:
Once they're mature, they shouldn't die back.

Shelley:
Larry, great reasons to grow one, thank you. Now it's your turn. Try some in your back yard.

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