What You Need To Know About Magnolia Trees

Guide to Magnolia Trees

Emma DowneyByEmma Downey
Updated on 10/4/2022

You know you're at the right place when you go inside and smell the familiar, comforting aroma of the magnolia blossoms.
Magnolia trees are one of the few plants that can be said to embody the spirit of the South entirely as they do. Southerners are used to seeing their large, waxy, glossy leaves next to heady, aromatic blossoms. These plants are native to the South. They blossom in a kaleidoscope of hues. Although some species flower during the sweltering heat of summer, others grow in the dead of winter and serve as precursors of forthcoming warmer weather. Not only do these trees have fragrant blossoms, which are always a draw for gardeners, but they also come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, making them popular choices for Southern backyards. Magnolias are known to generate a diverse assortment of leaf and flower kinds, giving them an incredibly varied look. We believe that a type of magnolia is suited to every yard because every gardener has their preferences. Do you have it with you? In that case, allow us to assist you in selecting the magnolia tree that best suits your needs. In the following paragraphs, find out more about some of the most popular plants in the South, as well as the many species, hybrids, and selections that can survive in the South's wide range of temperatures. Continue reading for information about planting magnolias, establishing them, and tending to them in your yard year-round if you already have a tree ready to grow or want to brush up on the necessary magnolia care. You can find this information below.

Varieties Of The Magnolia Trees

Varieties Of The Magnolia Trees

Magnolias are members of the Magnoliaceae family of plants. They are lovely blooming plants with white, pink, crimson, purple, or yellow blooms, and they include deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. A word like magnificent would be appropriate to describe them correctly. Magnolia trees come in evergreen and deciduous varieties, so there is a wide range of possible leaf shapes and plant forms to choose from. Deer do not often consume them as a snack. (This is a desirable quality for gardeners with yards frequented by deer, as they like to browse.)

Magnolia zones differ depending on the species, but these trees generally do best in full sun or light shade and require consistent watering. Their foliage ranges from glossy and waxy (see: Magnolia grandiflora) to soft, green, gigantic, and shaped like saucers. Their summertime blooms are creamy and rich, and their foliage comes in various textures (see: M. macrophylla, also known as bigleaf magnolia). The majority of magnolias, evergreen and deciduous, produce big, eye-catching flowers made up of segments that resemble petals. A minimal number of them are cultivated for their leaves. Some varieties can even reach a size and thickness that makes them suitable for use as privacy plantings and tree plantings in the form of hedges.

The following passage organizes magnolias into categories according to their broad types, including species, hybrids, and selections. Magnolias seem to be introduced almost hourly, yet most garden centers only stock a handful of them. It is likely going to be necessary for you to go through mail-order catalogs to find a desirable pick.

Evergreen Magnolias

Evergreen Magnolias

Magnolia grandiflora is the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana. An enormous fragrant white bloom blooms on this traditional Southern magnolia. Its leaves are glossy and massive. Magnolia is often associated with only this species. Its beauty is unmatched by most other trees throughout the year. However, it does not come without some negatives. Unnamed seedlings often require a decade from planting until they produce their first flowers. Growing grass beneath the canopy is impossible due to the tree's dense shade and shallow roots.


Additionally, the roots will often split and raise the pavement if the tree is planted between the sidewalk and the curb. Because the leaves of M. Grandiflora fall off every single day of the year, this species of magnolia is not the best choice for people who cannot tolerate falling leaves. Because the tree may reach a width of up to 40 feet when fully mature, it requires a significant amount of room in the garden. The sweet bay tree, also known as M. virginiana, is a smaller tree that fits more easily into most gardens. It is evergreen in the Lower and Coastal South, even though it is predominantly deciduous in the Upper and Middle South. It is also more resistant to cold than M. Grandiflora.

Plants formerly classified as members of the genus Michelia are now included in this category. These evergreen trees and bushes originate from China and the Himalayas, and as a rule, they are not as resistant to the cold as other types of magnolias. Flower clusters appear amid the leaves of the plant rather than at the tips of the branches, earning them a reputation for being fragrant and plentiful.

Magnolias With Saucer Flowers That Are Evergreen And Deciduous

M. x soulangeana

This category contains the well-known saucer magnolia, also known as M. x soulangeana, and its other cultivars. These trees are sometimes referred to as tulip trees because of their blossoms' form and vivid color. They do well on soil that is rich, acidic, and well-drained. They cannot withstand strong winds or be exposed to salt spray. Varieties that blossom early are more vulnerable to being damaged by frost. Spectacular magnolias native to western China and the Himalayas, like the Sargent magnolia (M. sargentiana) and the Sprenger magnolia, are closely related to these species but have a lower tolerance for the extremes of winter cold and summer heat (M. sprengeri). Even if their early blossoms may be killed by late frost, all it takes is one spring season with good blooms for you to forget the letdowns of previous years quickly.

Magnolias With Deciduous Leaves And Star-Shaped Flowers

Magnolias With Deciduous Leaves And Star-Shaped Flowers

The Kobus magnolia (M. Kobus), the Loebner magnolia (M. x loebneri), and the star magnolia are all included in this category (M. stellata). All these plants can survive in various conditions and have fragrant blossoms. The petals of the flowers grow outward in patterns reminiscent of stars with numerous arms. Sometimes, the early flowers of these magnolias are damaged when late frosts come around. There are a few varieties of star magnolias that produce rosy pink flowers. The name "pink star magnolia" is also used to refer to the M. stellata 'Rosea species.

Additional Species Of Magnolia

Additional Species Of Magnolia

A collection of large-leafed native magnolias is often cultivated as striking accents or shade trees. Still, they do not get nearly as much planting as other types of magnolias, so they need more attention than they get. The cucumber tree (M. acuminata) and its more diminutive twin, the yellow cucumber tree (M. a. subcordate), are responsible for providing many new hybrids with their characteristic yellow bloom color. The bigleaf magnolia is also known as M. macrophylla. The umbrella magnolia, also known as M. tripetala, the Fraser magnolia, also known as M. Fraser, and the Ashe magnolia, also known as M. ashes, are all medium-sized trees with enormous leaves and large flowers that appear after the leaves unfurl. Oyama magnolia, also known as M. sieboldii, is a species of magnolia that belongs to its category. After the leaves have emerged, they will produce fragrant, cup-shaped flowers that droop.

Planting Magnolia Trees

Planting Magnolia Trees

When planting any magnolia, the tree's location needs to be carefully considered. Once planted, virtually all varieties are difficult to relocate, and many grow extremely large, making it nearly impossible to relocate them in the future. The ideal soil for growing magnolias is rich, has good drainage, and is neutral to slightly acidic. Consider applying a lot of organic material after the tree is planted. The Southern magnolia, also known as M. Grandiflora, is an excellent choice for growing on the beach but should be avoided on dunes. It is resistant to the salty air that blows off the ocean, and sweet bay (M. virginiana) tolerates damp soil. The specified species and choices can thrive in a diverse variety of growing environments and are straightforward for most gardeners to cultivate.

Magnolias never have their most pleasing appearance when other plants surround them, and it is possible to cause them significant damage by digging around their roots. Larger types of deciduous trees look best when grown alone against a backdrop that allows them to flaunt their blooms during the blooming season and their distinctively patterned, often grey limbs and large, fluffy blossom buds during the dormant season. Small deciduous magnolias are eye-catching when planted in broad flower or shrub borders; they make for excellent decorations. Most magnolias make wonderful yard trees; nevertheless, it is essential to leave a sizable space of grass around the tree's trunk unmowed and avoid planting anything directly beneath it.

Late winter and the beginning of spring are the only times you can purchase bale-and-burlapped plants; you can buy container plants all other months of the year. It is essential not to place plants any lower than the level at which they were initially grown. Trees with a single trunk or particularly heavy should be staked to prevent the wind from rocking them and causing damage to the roots, which are often thick, fleshy, and delicate. Before installing the tree, insert pegs into the planting hole to prevent damage to the roots.

How to Take Care of Magnolia Trees

How to Take Care of Magnolia Trees

By reducing soil compaction around the root zone of your freshly planted magnolias, you will be able to assist the magnolias in establishing themselves in your yard. Make every effort to limit the amount of foot traffic around the tree's trunk. Additionally, only prune when it is required. Magnolias don't often have significant issues with pests or diseases, so the care you provide your tree shouldn't be affected by this fact. They are also tricky for deer and other natural visitors to the garden to nibble on. Magnolias can tolerate little shade but do best in full sun. They require consistent watering. Ensure your magnolia gets adequate water and is placed in soil that allows excess moisture to drain away. Few magnolias survive damp soil. One plant that can grow in moist environments is the sweet bay (M. virginiana).

Do you have any magnolia trees in the yard of your home? What life lessons have you picked up over the years from tending to the needs of magnolias?