Magnolia 'Grant David'

Magnolia Garden

A winter and spring highlight at the Gardens

Magnificent Magnolia

The abundant blooms of magnolias are stunning contrasted against dark foliage, bare branches and a high winter sky. Like its neighbour the Camellia Garden, this garden is a highlight of a winter or spring visit to Auckland Botanic Gardens. Come and marvel at the strong yet delicate ancient perfection of the magnolia blooms which range in colour from pure white to pinks to deep purple black, some scented and some larger than your dinner plate.

The Magnolia Garden is divided into two areas. One, next to the Camellia Garden, is a continuation of a dappled woodland walk with shrubs and perennials of mainly Eastern Asian origin. In the second you will find large specimen magnolias in a lawn setting – perfect for a shady spring or summer picnic. As with many of the other plants that have been successfully trialled here at the Botanic Gardens – all of this collection could potentially grow in your Auckland home garden. But please take note of potential size – as befits their evolutionary age – some varieties can reach a large stature!

Magnolias originate in East and Southeast Asia with a secondary centre in the Americas and West Indies. Other members of Magnoliaceae that are represented in this garden include Michelia and Manglietia. If you are interested to differentiate magnolias and michelias: magnolias carry their flowers on their branch tips and are real feature trees, but michelias carry their flowers on leaf axils and are therefore more of a clippable background plant (with delicious fragrant flowers).

This collection is constantly growing - Auckland Botanic Garden aims to continue to inspire gardeners whatever the situation of their home gardens – in particular we are looking into showcasing magnolias of potential size ranges for every Auckland garden whatever its needs.

Watch our video about the Magnolia Garden 



Magnolias are amongst the most ancient of flowering plants – fossil remains have dated them to 100 million years old - their flowers have a basic structure from which today’s vast variety of flowers evolved. Simple, big, warm (some up to 5 degrees higher than the air temperature) and often scented – these flowers really work-it to attract their beetle pollinators (having evolved before bees could do the job!) as well as us plant lovers. They have special significance and links with traditions in Asia and in the Southern American states where they originate – both for their magnificent seasonal flowering and uses in herbalism.

Check out Magnolia 'Arabian Nights’ (a hybrid between Magnolia 'Sayonara' x Magnolia ‘Vulcan’) raised here at the Gardens.

Magnolia 'Arabian Nights'

Magnolia 'Arabian Nights'

Gardening Tips for Magnolias
  • You can choose from evergreen or deciduous magnolias
  • Magnolias prefer free draining but moisture retaining soils.
  • Deciduous species in particular tend to grow well in a sunny position with shelter from strong winds.
  • Plant in autumn or spring when soil is moist and warm but not waterlogged. Roots of most magnolias are fragile and fleshy; they are easily damaged by disturbance and also wet soil conditions.
  • Ensure that newly planted as well as young trees, are watered regularly during long, dry periods.
  • A regular supply of mulch around their base is also beneficial as it protects the roots and feeds the tree as the mulch decomposes.
  • Plants generally take two to three years to become established; some will produce flowers in this time, although Magnolia campbellii cultivars in particular can take up to six years.
  • Plants do not usually require pruning other than to remove deadwood and branches that rub against one another. If the magnolia is mature, stage prune over several years to avoid stressing the tree.
Magnolia campbellii 'Alba'

Magnolia campbellii 'Alba'


Auckland Botanic Garden ensures that any magnolias held which are listed as threatened, are conserved. In addition we curate a comprehensive collection of NZ-raised hybrids deemed to have garden merit.


Horticulturalists at Auckland Botanic Gardens are evaluating newly introduced hybrids as well as the performance of magnolias for home gardens, streetscapes and other amenity uses. For more information or recommendations please contact us.


Tarmac paths are accessible in wheelchairs or scooters. Side paths are narrow and unpaved.

Look for the ‘no scooter’ sign at the start of narrow or steep paths.