Best grown in moist, organically rich, acidic, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Best sited in a location protected from high winds (minimize potential damage to leaves), but generally avoid southern exposures close to houses where the buds may be induced to open too early in spring. This is a late-blooming magnolia that is less apt to suffer frost damage in spring. Mulch root zone. Good air circulation may reduce onset of powdery mildew.
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).
‘Susan’ is a cross between M. liliiflora ‘Nigra’ and M. stellata ‘Rosea’. It is part of the Little Girl series (‘Ann’, ‘Betty’, ‘Jane’, ‘Judy’, ‘Pinkie’, ‘Randy’, ‘Ricki’ and ‘Susan’) of hybrid magnolias that were developed at the National Arboretum in the mid-1950s by Francis DeVos and William Kosar. Plants in this series flower about 2-4 weeks later than M. stellata and M. x soulangiana, thus reducing the risk of damage to flowers from late spring frosts. ‘Susan’ is primarily noted for its compact shrubby habit, fragrant fuchsia flowers and late bloom (mid-April to early May). It is a slow-growing, deciduous shrub or small tree that typically rises over time to 8-12’ tall. Goblet-shaped flowers, each with 6 slightly twisted tepals, bloom shortly before the foliage begins to appear. Flowers (to 5” wide) are purple-red or fuchsia, with paler tones inside. Flowers may sporadically repeat bloom in mid summer. Ovate medium green leaves (to 6” long). Leaves turn yellow-bronze in fall.
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.
Beautiful specimen flowering shrub for lawns, foundations, shrub borders or woodland peripheries. May be grown as a tall informal hedge.