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Magnolia x 'Peter Smithers' 'Peter Smithers' Magnolia

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen

Introduction

Young Japanese or saucer magnolia are distinctly upright, becoming more oval, then round by 10 years of age. Blooms open in late winter in the southern part of its range to early spring in the northern part of its range before the leaves emerge. Flowers are delicately shaded in light pink and are among the largest of the Japanese magnolias. However, a late frost can often ruin the flowers in all areas where it is grown. In warmer climates, the late-flowering selections avoid frost damage, but some are less showy than the early-flowered forms, which blossom when little else is in bloom.

Flower - Magnolia x 'Peter Smithers': 'Peter Smithers' Magnolia
Figure 1. Flower - Magnolia x 'Peter Smithers': 'Peter Smithers' Magnolia
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Magnolia x 'Peter Smithers'

Pronunciation: mag-NO-lee-uh x soo-lan-jee-AY-nuh

Common name(s): 'Peter Smithers' magnolia

Family: Magnoliaceae

Plant type: shrub

USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 9A (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 7: year round

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Uses: near a deck or patio; container or above-ground planter; espalier

Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Credit:

Description

Height: 20 to 25 feet

Spread: 15 to 25 feet

Plant habit: upright

Plant density: open

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: undulate

Leaf shape: obovate

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: yellow

Fall characteristic: showy

Flower

Flower color: pink

Flower characteristic: spring flowering; winter flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: irregular

Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches

Fruit cover: dry or hard

Fruit color: red

Fruit characteristic: rarely fruits

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: no thorns; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems

Current year stem/twig color: brown

Current year stem/twig thickness: medium

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic;

Drought tolerance: moderate

Soil salt tolerances: unknown

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers

Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more

Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

The tree is best used as a specimen in a sunny spot where it can develop a symmetrical crown. It develops an open canopy but flowers fine in a partially shaded spot. It can be pruned up if planted close to a walk or patio to allow for pedestrian clearance but probably looks its best when branches are left to droop to the ground. The light gray bark shows off nicely, particularly during the winter when the tree is bare.

Transplant in the spring, just before growth begins, and use balled and burlapped or containerized plants. Pruning wounds may not close well, so train plants early in their life to develop the desired form to avoid large pruning wounds.

Pests and Diseases

Magnolia is generally pest free, except scales of various types may infest twigs and foliage.

Magnolia may be subject to leaf spots.

Canker diseases will kill entire branches.

Publication #FPS-365

Release Date:November 6th, 2023

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: Agricultural and Food Systems
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is FPS-365, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Contacts

  • Gail Hansen de Chapman