Magnolia stellata 'Waterlily'
Common Name: star magnolia 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Magnoliaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Clay Soil


Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Best flowering in full sun. Appreciates consistent and even moisture in summer. Generally intolerant of soil extremes (dry or wet). Intolerant of most urban pollutants. Best sited in locations protected from high winds, but generally avoid southern exposures where the buds may be induced to open too early in late winter. Mulch (compost or bark) helps retain soil moisture. Prune only if needed immediately after flowering.

'Waterlily' blooms about 2 weeks later than the species, and accordingly is less susceptible to flower loss from spring frosts.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Magnolia stellata, commonly called star magnolia, is native to Japan. It is a small deciduous tree that typically grows 15-20’ tall with a spreading, rounded crown. It is also often grown as a large oval to rounded shrub. It is noted for its compact size and late winter to early spring bloom of star-shaped white flowers. Each flower typically has 12-18 narrow strap-like tepals.

Magnolia stellata is synonymous with Magnolia kobus var. stellata.

Genus name honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715).

Specific epithet is in reference to the star-like shape of the flower.

'Waterlily' has slightly larger flowers that have more numerous tepals (sometimes to 36) and are less floppy, resulting in a waterlily-like appearance (hence the cultivar name). Obovate to narrow-elliptic dark green leaves (2-4” long) are attractive throughout the growing season. Fall color ranges from respectable gold to mediocre brownish-yellow. Red seeds form in greenish pods that split open in fall.


No serious insect or disease problems. Frost damage to flowers in spring is a concern.


Beautiful specimen flowering tree or shrub for lawns, foundations, shrub borders or woodland peripheries. May be grown as a tall informal hedge.