Magnolia recommendations


Hello. After 30 years, my mother’s Star magnolia has died and we would like to get her another one. She would like the same kind, but in case we have trouble finding it, are there others you can recommend, suitable for growing in Toronto? Thank you.


Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) is considered one of the best magnolia trees for our Toronto climate. This beautiful early bloomer with huge, fragrant blossoms is worth looking for, as is Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’ a dense multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. If you like the star species but prefer to plant a taller magnolia tree, consider the hybrid ‘Merrill.’ It results from crosses between Magnolia kobus trees and the shrubby variety stellata. It’s a cold-hardy early bloomer and grows to two stories in height.

The Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton also has many magnolia varieties. The collection reaches peak bloom anywhere between April and May given the climatic conditions per year. These plants produce spectacular flowers in a range of colours including white and cream through to pale to deep pink, purple, rose and less commonly soft yellows. Many are fragrant. Check out the species and cultivars of Magnolia salicifolia which have a very unusual licorice type fragrance.  Look out for the cucumber tree (M. acuminata ), Ontario’s own native magnolia which is displayed in the RBG’s collection.

Soft yellow in recent years has become a highly desirable flower colour in RBG’s collection, including M.  ‘Butterflies’ and Magnolia × brooklynensis ‘Yellow Bird’.

Many of the magnolias in the RBG’s collection have gained the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This is a mark of quality awarded to garden plants of superior quality and performance. These cultivars include ‘Brozzonii’, ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Galaxy’, ‘Leonard Messel’, ‘Merrill’, ‘Rustica Rubra’ and ‘Wada’s Memory’. Read more about this collections at