10 Stunning Magnolia Trees to Grow for Your Landscape Enhancement

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Magnolia trees are renowned for their spectacular flowers and lush foliage, making them a prized addition to any landscape. With a wide array of magnolia species and cultivars to choose from, selecting the perfect one for your yard can be a daunting task.

Whether you’re looking for a tree that thrives in the heat of the southern United States or one that can withstand the frigid winters of the north, there’s a magnolia variety that’s perfect for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore some of the most popular types of magnolia trees and provide tips on how to select, plant, and care for these beautiful trees in your landscape.

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

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The Southern magnolia is a large evergreen tree native to the southeastern United States. Known for its impressive size and stunning white flowers, the Southern Magnolia is a striking addition to any landscape.

The flowers, which can reach up to 12 inches in diameter, bloom in summer and are followed by brown fruits with bright red seeds. The tree’s oval-shaped, shiny, dark green leaves are frequently used in wreaths, swags, and interior decor.

Planting and Care: Southern magnolias prefer part shade and moist, well-drained soil. They can tolerate clay soil but do not grow well in wet or swampy areas. Consider planting smaller varieties such as ‘Kay Parris’, ‘Little Gem’, or ‘Teddy Bear’ if space is limited, as these varieties reach a mature size of 30 feet tall.

Size: 60 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide Zones: 6–10

Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

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The Sweet Bay magnolia is a small, slow-growing tree native to North America. It features fragrant white flowers and dark green leaves, making it a charming addition to any landscape. Unlike other magnolias, the Sweet Bay magnolia thrives in moist and boggy soil, making it an excellent choice for low spots and wet sites in the landscape.

Planting and Care: Sweet Bay magnolias prefer full sun to part shade and consistently moist-to-wet soil. They can tolerate boggy soil and are well-suited for warm climates where they are evergreen.

Size: 10 to 30 feet tall and wide Zones: 5–10

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)

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The Saucer magnolia is a deciduous magnolia tree known for its large, cup-shaped flowers that bloom in late winter or early spring. The tree’s fuzzy buds add interest in winter and are popular for cut arrangements. Saucer magnolias are great shade trees for small landscapes and pair well with other spring-flowering small trees like serviceberry, crabapple, and redbud.

Planting and Care: Saucer magnolias prefer full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil. They grow best in consistently moist soil.

Size: 15 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide Zones: 4–9

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

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The Star magnolia is a slow-growing deciduous shrub or multi-stemmed tree known for its graceful, almost frilly, fragrant flowers. Covered with white or pink blossoms in early spring, the Star magnolia is a charming addition to small landscapes. It rarely needs pruning and works well in mixed shrub borders or near patios.

Planting and Care: Star magnolias prefer full sun and moist, rich soil. They are adaptable to a variety of conditions.

Size: 15 to 20 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide Zones: 4–9

Loebner Magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri)

The Loebner magnolia is a hybrid of the Star magnolia with many-petaled flowers and a more robust, tree-like habit. It blooms a couple of weeks later than the Star magnolia and is an excellent medium-sized tree for the landscape. ‘Merrill’ is a popular variety known for its fragrant flowers, while ‘Leonard Messel’ features pink flowers.

Planting and Care: Loebner magnolias prefer full sun to part shade and moist, rich, well-drained soil.

Size: 15 to 30 feet tall and wide Zones: 4–9

Cucumber Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata)

The Cucumber magnolia is a native magnolia tree known for its yellowish tulip-like flowers that decorate the branch tips in spring. It has a pleasing pyramidal shape and makes a great residential shade tree. ‘Yellow Bird’, ‘Butterflies’, and ‘Gold Star’ are popular varieties to look for.

Planting and Care: Cucumber magnolias prefer full sun and moist, rich, well-drained soil.

Size: 30 to 40 feet tall and 25 feet wide Zones: 5–9

Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla)

As its name suggests, the Bigleaf magnolia has huge leaves, making it a striking addition to any landscape. The tree’s extra-large flowers are also noteworthy, reaching up to 12 inches in diameter. Bigleaf magnolias bloom sporadically from May to June and are deciduous in most areas but semi-evergreen in Zone 8.

Planting and Care: Bigleaf magnolias prefer full sun to part shade and tolerate a wide variety of soils.

Size: 30 to 40 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide Zones: 5–8

Lily Magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora)

The Lily magnolia is a smaller magnolia tree that grows up to 12 feet tall. It is covered with lily-shaped flowers in spring before the leaves emerge, featuring a white interior and a purple-pink exterior. Several hybrids of the Lily magnolia are available, such as the Little Girl series, including ‘Ann’, ‘Betty’, and ‘Jane’.

Planting and Care: Lily magnolias prefer full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil.

Size: 8 to 12 feet tall and wide Zones: 5–8

Kobus Magnolia (Magnolia kobus)

The Kobus magnolia is a graceful multi-trunked tree with a shape and branching habit reminiscent of a stately live oak. It blooms in early spring before the new leaves emerge, featuring 4-inch-wide, white or pink flowers that are lightly fragrant. ‘Wada’s Memory’ is a popular variety known for its black-green leaves and large flowers.

Planting and Care: Kobus magnolias prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

Size: 25 feet tall and wide Zones: 5–8

Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata)

The Yulan magnolia is a fast-growing tree known for its striking dark green leaves and rounded outline. It grows 30 to 40 feet tall and wide and features smooth bark and pendulous branches. The tree’s lemon-scented, 6-inch-wide flowers decorate its bare branches in spring.

Planting and Care: Yulan magnolias prefer full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil.

Size: 30 to 40 feet tall and wide Zones: 6–8

Magnolia trees are a diverse group of trees and shrubs that offer something for every landscape. Whether you’re looking for a large shade tree or a small ornamental tree, there’s a magnolia variety that’s perfect for your yard.

With their stunning flowers and lush foliage, magnolia trees are sure to add beauty and charm to your landscape for years to come.

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