Saucer magnolia

Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) photo: John Hagstrom

Tree & Plant Care

This shallow rooted plant has a fleshy root system and is best planted in spring.
Prefers a sunny, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Avoid windy sites.
Water in dry periods and apply a layer of organic mulch to moderate a cool root environment and conserve moisture.
Prune dead wood and crossing branches as needed.

Disease, pests, and problems

Can be subject to early frost damage.
Magnolia scale, chlorosis in high pH soils, powdery mildew, and verticillium wilt.

Native geographic location and habitat

Hybrid of Asian species.

Bark color and texture

Attractive silver-gray smooth bark.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, simple, 3 to 7 inches long, elliptical with a sharply pointed tip.
New leaves are reddish bronze, medium green with lighter underside in summer and a yellow-brown fall color.
Terminal leaf bud is 1/2 inch long , very silky and pubescent to the touch.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Large, cup-like, white, pink, or purple blossoms in mid- to late April.
Typically a heavy bloomer at a young age.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

A 4 inch long aggregate fruit with a knobby surface, reddish-orange seeds emerge from slits in August and September.
Typically few fruits are produced each year.

Cultivars and their differences

‘Alexandrina’ (Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Alexandrina’): Grows 15 to 20 feet high and 10-15 feet wide with an upright form; multi-stemmed tree; cup-shaped, deep rose-purple flowers with white interior.

‘Lennei’ (Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Lennei’): Grows 15 to 20 feet high and wide with a broad, pyramidal form; goblet-shaped, deep magenta purple flowers with white interior; dark green leaves; flowers slightly later than the species.

‘Lennei Alba’ (Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Lennei Alba’): Grows 15 to 20 feet high and wide with a broad, pyramidal form; pure white, globe-shaped flowers; ideal for small gardens; flowers slightly later than the species.

‘Rustica Rubra’ (Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Rustica Rubra’): Grows 15 to 25 feet high and 15-20 feet wide with a broad, pyramidal form; small-size tree with open habit; rose-red flowers.

‘Verbanica’ (Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Verbannica’): Grows 20 to 25 feet high and wide with an upright, broad, pyramidal form; cup-shaped, rosy-pink flowers with white interior. It blooms later than other varieties. Lustrous dark green leaves turn coppery brown in fall.

Magnolia x soulangeana ‘RUSTICA RUBRA’

Based on the successful crossing of saucer magnolia a new variety was bred at the end of the 19th centutry. Its name is Rustica Rubra or just Rubra and comes from the nursery town Boskoop in the Netherlands.
The beautifully scented flowers are goblet- to saucer-shaped, bright purplish red outside and white inside. Flower buds are quite large and fuzzy, and appear on the plant in late summer the previous year. It starts blooming when 6-8 years old and since then blooms profusely and reliably every year.

Leaves are mid to deep green, stiff and slightly wavy. Fully leaved magnolias are the densest deciduous broadleaved shrubs. It blooms a couple of weeks later than the species, but still we suggest planting it in a position that is not the warmest in your garden to avoid premature flowering and thus escaping damage by mid-spring frosts.
Deciduous magnolias are quite easy plants. All they need is light, well-drained, acidic soil with equal moisture throughout the year. Once established they can do with occasional drought but will not look as nice as the ones with regular watering. Just pay attention to how to plant your magnolia. First, find it a spot where it will live forever and ever. It does not like transplanting. And as it makes shallow roots reaching well over its spread stay away from disturbing the roots by digging or messing about around it. Just cover the soil with bark mulch and do not plant anything else near it after say the second year after planting onwards. You could damage the very important top roots that absorb maximum moisture and nutrients from the soil. Also avoid planting magnolia too deep. Thus you could be digging its grave. It is fully hardy to -27° or 29°C (USDA zone 5).
Last update: 19-01-2009

Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’ (Saucer magnolia ‘Rustica Rubra’)

Botanical name

Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’

Other names

Saucer magnolia ‘Rustica Rubra’, Magnolia × soulangeana ‘Rubra’ misapplied


Magnolia Magnolia

Variety or Cultivar








RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit)

Create your free Shoot garden

Create your free SHOOT garden and make a record of the plants in your garden.

Add your own photos, notes, get monthly email reminders on how to care for your plants, and connect with other gardeners. Get started now.



Purple in Spring

Green in Summer

How to care

Watch out for

Specific pests

Capsid bug , Horse chestnut scale


Generally disease free.

General care

Propagation methods

Semi-hardwood cuttings

Get access to monthly care advice

Create a free SHOOT account and get instant access to expert care advice for this and other plants in your garden.

You’ll also receive handy monthly email reminders of what needs doing. Create your free account.

Where to grow

Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’ (Saucer magnolia ‘Rustica Rubra’) will reach a height of 8m and a spread of 8m after 20-50 Years.

Suggested uses

Architectural, City, Cottage/Informal, Flower Arranging, Low Maintenance, Containers, Wallside and trellises


Plant in moist, humus-rich soil. Some protection may be needed from late winter frosts.

Soil type

Clay, Loamy, Sandy

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Neutral


Partial Shade, Full Sun


South, East, West



UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4), Tender in frost (H3)

USDA zones

Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5, Zone 4

Defra’s Risk register #1

Plant name

Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’ (Saucer magnolia ‘Rustica Rubra’)

Common pest name

Scientific pest name

Phytophthora kernoviae



Current status in UK

Present (Limited)

Likelihood to spread in UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

General biosecurity comments

Pathogen of certain tree and shrub species; subject to a containment strategy the UK.

Defra’s Risk register #2

Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’ (Saucer magnolia ‘Rustica Rubra’)

Japanese long scale; Japanese maple scale; Long scale; Japanese; Pear white scale

Lopholeucaspis japonica



Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Regulated only on Citrus at present; regulation on other hosts needs to be considered. Only likely to be a pest under glass in UK.

Defra’s Risk register #3

Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’ (Saucer magnolia ‘Rustica Rubra’)

; Apple bark beetle; Asian ambrosia beetle; Granulate ambrosia beetle

Xylosandrus crassiusculus



Ambrosia beetle which can affect a wide range of broadleaved trees; widespread in Africa; Asia and parts of the US; with outbreaks in France and Italy. The UK climate is unlikely to be suitable for the pest to thrive and cause significant damage but needs to be investigated through research. A Europe-wide PRA will help inform the case for EU regulation. Premises involved in importing wood and host plants from Italy in particular; where official measures are not being taken; should source material carefully.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here

Suspected outbreak?

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *