Magnolia Blue Opal The Blue Opal Magnolia is an unusual deciduous tree that’s rarely found in UK gardens. It produces blue-hued buds and blue-yellow blooms in spring on a compact crown. Magnolia Blue Opal’s full botanical name is Magnolia Acuminata Blue Opal. Acuminata Magnolias originate from the eastern United States but they do very well in the UK.
Opal is an unusual cultivar with striking blue-green buds that appear in spring. They are large and hard to miss standing approximately 4-5 cms tall on the ends of its branches. These unusual blue buds mature to dark yellow flowers with blue-green outer petals. They open into ten centimetre wide cup-shaped blooms in late spring. When pollinated these flowers ripen into cucumber shaped fruits which give the tree its common name the Cucumber Tree.
As flowers begin to fall, large dark-green ovate leaves emerge for the summer and early autumn months. The foliage of Magnolia Blue Opal gives good autumn colour compared to other magnolias before it falls for winter.
Height and Spread ofMagnolia Blue Opal Blue Opal Magnolia starts as a compact shrub that slowly matures into a tree. It’s maximum height of 15 metres and spread of 8 metres is only reached after several decades of growth. This makes it suitable for all sized gardens including compact urban spaces.
How Hardy IsMagnolia Blue Opal Blue Opal Magnolia is hardy throughout the UK as it can survive sub-zero temperatures, but it should be planted in a well-drained area that’s sheltered from frost and strong winds. Magnolias may not flower in exposed sites of the northern UK.
How To UseMagnolia Blue Opal Blue Opal Magnolia is a specimen tree you’ll rarely spot here. It’s still relatively unknown and sure to grab plenty of attention in a sheltered front garden. Use Blue Opal as a focal point in large gardens and if you can only choose one tree for an urban space, this is an unusual option.
How To Care ForMagnolia Blue Opal Most magnolias prefer neutral to acid soil but the acuminata species is more tolerant of chalk. If your ground is alkaline this is the perfect magnolia. Dig in well-rotted manure or garden compost and top it up each year in early spring.
Plant Blue Opal in a sunny spot that’s sheltered from cold drying winds and frost pockets as frost damages the furry buds. If a late frost is forecast cover Blue Opal with fleece to protect the new buds.
Magnolia Blue Opal likes consistently moist but not waterlogged soil so give yours plenty of water in dry spells to ensure it develops new buds. Blue Opal doesn’t grow well in containers or enjoy being transplanted. Pruning isn’t necessary as Magnolia Blue Opal naturally holds a graceful shape as it grows, but you can remove crossed or damaged branches when the fruits have fallen and the tree is in full leaf.