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Flower of sweetbay magnolia.

Magnolias are among the most beautiful and popular landscape plants. While their principal attraction is spectacular large flowers, magnolias also offer homeowners a variety of sizes, forms, and textures from smaller shrub-like plants to large specimen trees. Although there are a number of magnolias that have proven hardy in our area, only a handful of varieties are commonly planted.

There is a wide range of tree sizes and forms are available.  Magnolias offer spectacular large flowers in several colors as well as unique and brightly colored fruits (fruiting will be limited if flowers are damaged by cold temperatures).    The bark of most magnolias is an attractive gray.  Magnolias in northern climates will drop their leaves in the fall (deciduous),


Magnolias have many uses in the landscape.  They can frame a house when planted to the front and side of residence, shade private areas such as patios or decks or provide a pleasing view from a window.   Magnolias can create an attractive background for other plants or can serve as a focal point in the garden.

To have the best success with growing magnolias:

  • Select a planting site sheltered from strong winds
  • Plant on east or north side of your home to prevent early flowering that may be susceptible to spring frosts
  • Select later-blooming varieties to avoid frost damage to flowers
  • Plant in full sun to part shade
  • Plant in slightly acidic, well-drained, moist soil, rich in organic matter
  • Plant in spring
  • Water newly planted trees during establishment and during prolonged periods of drought
  • Mulch annually with well-composted mulch (wood chips, leaf mold, compost) to a depth of 3- 4 inches.


For more information on magnolias see entries on Cucumbertree Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata),  Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana), Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata), Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) and hybrid magnolias.

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Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub,
  • Tree

Location of Magnolia (Magnolia) at the Arboretum