Magnolia stellata ‘Waterlily’

star magnolia

Outstanding Qualities

During the early days of spring, star magnolias are among the first ornamentals to burst into bloom. The bare branches of 'Waterlily' are crowded with white starbursts that open from pink buds. Each flower has double the number of supple, strap-shaped petals (more correctly called tepals) than does the wild type. Flowers perfume the air with a delicate, but substantial, fragrance. 'Waterlily' blooms one to two weeks later than typical star magnolias, giving it the advantage of missing some of the late frosts. It grows into a large, rounded shrub or can be trained into a small tree with careful pruning. Star magnolias get golden fall color and have an attractive, somewhat twiggy branching structure of soft, grey branches. Suitable companions include winter heaths and spring-blooming bulbs. Be careful when gardening under magnolias as their roots are fleshy and easily damaged. Three different clones of star magnolia are grown under this name, but the most widely available originated from Norfolk, Virginia.

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: gold, silver, white, variegated

Great Color Partners: dark green, chartreuse, blue

Culture Notes

This magnolia is easy to grow. It flowers best when planted in full sun to light or open shade. It will thrive in a rich moist to well-drained soil, but will tolerate sand and clay if the drainage is adequate. Plant in an area that is protected from strong winds to help the flowers last their longest and keep the young foliage from being damaged. Regular summer water will allow the best flowering and healthiest growth, but well established plants can tolerate occasional watering during dry weather. Magnolias have fleshy roots that can easily be damaged so limit extensive gardening under established trees. Little pruning is required other than removing dead and broken limbs or poorly formed limbs. Pruning is best done after flowering.

© John Glover Photography Ltd.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: pyramidal tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 12 ft. 0 in. (3.66 m.)

Plant Width/Spread: 10 ft. 0 in. (3.05 m.)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Flower Color: white

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light or open shade

Water Requirements: regular watering for best flowering