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A very unique and prostrate form

Michelia yunnanensis Free Spirit

Very unique, this prostrate form has incredibly fragrant upward-facing flowers from spring to early summer. A far reaching “free spirited” evergreen with fragrant, Magnolia-like flowers, Free Spirit is in a class of its own. Can also be top grafted on M. Yunannensis, making one of the most striking standards in the plant world!

Formerly classified as Michelia yunnanensis, (which is what we are comfortable calling them), these pearls of southern China have been lumped into the Magnolia family by taxonomists and are now referred to as Magnolia laevifolia, (syn. yunnanensis). But, regardless of the class you choose for them (yes, plants are judged by their families too) these new selections are destined to become anchors in the temperate gardening world. In its native habitat, Michelia Yunnanensis grows in high elevation pine forests as a tall, understory shrub or small tree. With roots heavily mulched by the fallen needles, this species can withstand temps of 10-20 degrees F. Dark-green, shiny leaves are covered on the undersides with brown, velvety hairs (indumentum) which are softly illuminated by the filtered light of the forest.

From late winter to early spring fuzzy, brown buds begin to form in the leaf axils. They open to a display of creamy-white flowers that lie across the branches evoking a sweet, alluring fragrance. The perfect size for smaller landscapes, these lovely evergreens have proven to be quite undemanding when planted in sun to partial shade as long as they have moisture retentive soils. They can be used as flowering hedges or as stand-alone specimens in place of Camellias or Ligustrum. A pH range of 5.5-7.5 is ideal and mulching is desirable.

Please note: We don't sell plants. Asking your local retailer or googling the plant name is the easiest way to find someone selling our plants.

Please note: Download hi-res photos from the photo gallery at the bottom of the page.

Who Am I?

  • Common Name

    Free Spirit michelia
  • Botanical Name

    Michelia yunnanensis 'Free Spirit' PP24534
  • Type

  • Evergreen?

  • Bloom Time

    April to June
  • Bloom Color

    Creamy white

Cultural Details

  • Bloom Time

    April to June
  • Size

    18-24" tall by 6-8' wide
  • Hardiness Zone

  • Light

    Full sun to part shade
  • Soil

    Average garden soil
  • Moisture

    Moist, but well drained
  • Disease & Pests

    None known
  • Landscape Use

    Foundations, specimens, containers, front of the border

Available Photos

Hover over images to download hi-res files.