Magnolia trees are a very common site in the south.  They are stately, have pretty leaves, and very fragrant blooms. They are relatively easy to grow as long as you plant them in the right location and give them a bit of attention.  Here are some tips on successfully growing the magnolia tree.

About the Magnolia

Magnolias are magnificent flowering plants featuring blossoms in white, pink, red, purple, or yellow. Magnolia trees are diverse in leaf shape and plant form, and they include both evergreen and deciduous varieties.  They are relatively disease tolerant and the deer usually leave them alone.

Magnolia tree types

There are a variety of magnolia plants.  The most common is the evergreen Southern magnolia with its signature blooms, but remember that are other types to choose from that have their own charm.

Evergreen magnolias

Most people picture the classic Southern magnolia with large, glossy leaves and huge, fragrant white blooms. It is so popular in the south that the blossoms are the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana. Few trees can match it for year-round beauty.

Deciduous magnolias

There are a variety of deciduous magnolias including those with saucer flowers as well as star flowers. Most are cold-hardy, heat-tolerant, adaptable plants. Late frosts sometimes damage their early blooms.

Challenges

There are some challenges when growing magnolia trees.  Keep these in mind when deciding if this is the right plant for your yard.

If you grow from a seedling, it can take 10 years after planting before they come into bloom.  Most of us are not that patient and buy a plant. Cost: seedlings can start at $6 and 1 gallon plants at $14 and up.  You can find them online or at your local nursery.

Dense shade and shallow roots make it impossible to grow grass beneath the canopy, and the roots often crack and lift pavement if the tree is planted between sidewalk and curb.

The tree grows as wide as 40 ft., so you must be careful where you plant it. Make sure it has plenty of space around it.

One important thing to note, magnolia leaves drop 365 days a year.  This is not an exaggeration, the tree constantly drops leaves which means you have to regularly clean up around it. Just something to consider before planting one.

About to bloom
Magnolia tree
Magnolia blooms
Tree height

Planting Tips

For any magnolia, pick the planting site carefully. Virtually all types are hard to move once established, and many grow quite large. The best soil for magnolias is fairly rich, well drained, and neutral to slightly acid; if necessary, add generous amounts of organic matter when planting.

Prune only when absolutely necessary. Magnolias seldom have serious pest or disease problems.

Southern Magnolia Key Facts

The Southern magnolia is one of the most popular varieties. This is what I have and what you see in the pictures. Here are the facts you need to know when choosing this tree for your yard.

This tree grows at a slow to medium rate, with height increases of anywhere from less than 12″ to 24″ per year.

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Zone 6 planting range means it can grow in many northern areas, even as far north as parts of Maine, Michigan, and Washington.

Produces creamy white flowers, sometimes up to 12″ in diameter, with a rich fragrance.

Blooms May through June, with some blossoms throughout the summer months.

Is an evergreen, keeping most (but not all) of its leaves year-round.

Features leathery leaves 5–10″ in length, lustrous dark green on top with a soft, rusty underside.

Yields fruit that is 3–8″ long  that is eaten by squirrels, rabbits, and birds.

All about the flowers

I mentioned that magnolia trees do drop their leaves daily and it is a good bit of work keeping the area around them clean.  They make up for it with their beautiful and fragrant flowers.  The flowers can bloom starting in May and continue through the summer.  They are striking and add a lot of character to your yard.

Truly magnificent

Magnolias are beautiful trees that can add character to any yard or garden.  As long as you give them plenty of room and the right amount of sun, they are easy to grow.  The blooms are fragrant and can be used to make beautiful arrangements. Even though cleaning up the leaves is a lot of work, I really enjoy them in my yard.

 

Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion

– Truvy (Steel Magnolias)