Magnolia coco... a creamy delicate beauty!
I grew up in Richmond, VA and adored the magnificent white Magnolia grandiflora blossoms we had there. But here's a rarely-blooming tropical Magnolia beauty that is blooming now in the Windows to the Tropics conservatory at Fairchild Tropical Botantic Garden here in Miami, FL! I was charmed by its small compact size and waxy cream-colored petals!
Magnolia coco was introduced in England in 1786 by Lady Amelia Hume. It hasn't proven hardy enough to widespread cultivation. The flowers are small and very fragrant. They usually last only a day and open in the evening with the tepals falling by morning. This species is a good houseplant, the most suitable magnolia for indoors thanks to its small size and slow growth rate. Its long flowering period provides indoor fragrance and color about nine months of the year. Most Magnolias lack nectaries but the Magnolia coco is an exception. It secrets a nectar-like substance at the base of the tepals and between the stigmas.
It can be grown as a small house plant in a pot where it blooms when it reaches 2 to 3 feet tall! In habitat it is a woody medium size shrub, 3-6 ft. Flowers come in single, rounded as an egg before opening, 1-2" diameter with white petals and green sepal, intensely fragrant.Fragrance is outstanding especially in early morning. Blooms from spring to fall. This plant grows better with less direct sunlight on lowlands. Requires regular watering in container. Can be grown indoors in a well-lit spot.
The blooms are at the ends of the branches, rather than from the leaf axils as they are in the Michelia group. M. lilliifera is similar to M. coco - as both species have those egg shaped flowerbuds. In M. coco however, the bud is shaped more like a baby coconut, hence the name Magnolia coco, Coconut Magnolia.Other names used incorrectly for this plant are Michelia coco and Michelia pumila, but this is a true magnolia. Hardy to zones 9-10. This is a tropical plant. Min temp 45-50F, but it can survive light frost with some leaf damage (they get dry on edges from cold). It does not require pruning since it is slow growing and has a naturally bushy shape.
Windows to the Tropics, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami FL