Best grown in organically rich, neutral to slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Appreciates a root-zone mulch to help retain soil moisture. Also appreciates a location protected from strong winds, but avoid warm southern exposures which may promote premature bud opening in spring. Fleshy root system is easily damaged during transplanting, so it is best to select a landscape location carefully and leave this magnolia undisturbed once planted. Prune as needed immediately after flowering. Usually requires little pruning other than removal of dead or damaged branches.
The genus Magnolia consists of about 100 species (plus numerous additional hybrids and cultivars) of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs. Most plants feature large simple leaves and showy, sometimes fragrant flowers (yellow, white, pink or purple) which bloom in early spring before or while the leaves are emerging or in late spring to summer when trees are fully leaved.
Genus name honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715).
‘Butterflies’ is a deciduous hybrid magnolia resulting from a cross between M. acuminata (seed parent) and M. denudata (pollen parent). It is noted for its non-fading yellow flowers, late vegetative growth, compact pyramidal form and hardiness to both heat and cold. It typically grows as an upright, pyramidal tree to 18-20’ tall with a single trunk. It also grows as a multi-stemmed shrub. Upright, tulip-like, yellow flowers (to 4-5” across) bloom in late winter to early spring (late March in St. Louis). Each flower has 10-16 tepals. Flowers have a light lemon oil aroma. Flowers typically cover the tree with a profuse bloom for about 7-9 days. Foliage does not begin to emerge until the tepals have fallen. Dark green leaves (to 8” long) are oblong-elliptic with cuspidate tips. Foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season, but produces little fall color (gray-brown). Plant flowers are rarely pollinated by insects, and accordingly fruit is rarely produced. When it does appear, fruits are reddish-green at maturity. U. S. Plant Patent PP7,456 issued February 26, 1991.
No serious insect or disease problems. Potential disease problems include leaf spots, anthracnose, canker, dieback and powdery mildew. Potential insect problems include weevils, snails, scale, and thrips.
Excellent specimen or accent for sunny areas in the landscape where spring flowers can be appreciated. Small shade tree.