The magnolia tree comes in all shapes and sizes, whether you’re looking for a huge tree or a smaller shrub to plant in your backyard. The many varieties available is why we all love this tree and its flowers.
The magnolia tree in its full glory with flowers in full glare is a joy to behold. The tree can quickly transform your garden into a piece of art and make you the talk and envy of the neighborhood. Magnolia has so many varieties with different shapes, sizes, flower growth, spread, and more. When you consider these factors, you’ll see that they all have a place in gardens, albeit with different needs. Some of the magnolia trees will grow effortlessly in diverse regions while the others are predominant in one area.
There are two types of magnolia trees based on seasons of growth: the evergreen magnolias called Magnolia Grandiflora and deciduous magnolias. The evergreen magnolias are evergreen trees that flower throughout the year; they can also grow in diverse climates. Deciduous magnolias, on the other hand, flower in late winter and are grown in cool temperate climates.
This way, you can choose the best magnolia for your region, but first, you have to navigate several magnolia types to select the tree to grow in your home. This article lists some magnolia tree varieties to help you with this decision and make it a lot easier.
The good thing about having these trees in your garden is that apart from the improved aesthetics they provide in your garden; they can also provide shade, serve as support for your tree swing, or even be home to your birds (if you’re into such things).
Types of Magnolia Trees to Grow
As earlier mentioned, there are so many magnolia varieties available; some of them will fit in perfectly in your climate, others won’t. Here is a list of some magnolia species you can grow, their peculiarities, and their growing requirements.
#1. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora)
Southern Magnolia is an evergreen species capable of growing in different regions and climates but more popular in the south. They are not best for colder areas; however, they may survive in zone 6 if you provide the necessary wind protection for the plant. It is a large tree growing as tall as 80 feet at maturity and producing cream-white flowers with six petals. They are summer blooming, which means you’ll enjoy the beautiful flowers as the sun shines on them.
As the flowers die, seed clusters in a cone shape emerge. There are no dull moments with this tree as it has something to excite you even when it is not flowering. When it comes to leaves, the southern magnolia tree produces dark glossy leaves in oblong shapes and about 10 inches long. It thrives under full sun or part shade in acidic soil with medium moisture content.
#2. Anise Magnolia (Magnolia Salicifolia)
This native Japanese magnolia tree is a deciduous tree that blossoms into white scented flowers in early spring. It is a medium-sized tree with six petals with a touch of pink at the base of the flower.
Planting the tree in your garden will bring a sweet fragrance to the area as the flower, leaves, and dark grey bark are all scented. The leaves and bark release their fragrance when they are scratched. Its coppery-red leaves are narrow with willow-like tips. It then turns golden yellow during the fall before it finally falls off.
It grows best in hardiness zone 6-9, under full sun or partial shade. It grows to a height of up to 50’ and 50’ spread at full maturity.
#3. Elizabeth Magnolia
Elizabeth magnolia is a hybrid tree derived from a cross of magnolia denudata and magnolia. It is also a medium-sized tree, but this time, its flowers are yellow tulip shapes. Hybrids in the magnolia family are nothing new as botanists and farmers look to make even better trees.
If you prefer to have a late bloomer in your garden, this magnolia plant may be what you’re looking for, as it is the last magnolia to bloom in a season.
#4. Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia Macrophylla)
This is a native North American magnolia tree with a distinct leaf. This deciduous plant’s tree can grow up to 40 feet long. As the name implies, this bigleaf tree has the largest simple leaf among native North American trees.
It grows best in hardiness zone 5-8 and can grow up to 40’ long and spread 40’ at maturity. It thrives in acidic soil with moist soil and under partial shade or full sun. The large white with purple base flower is located high up in the tree with the leaves. Fruits follow almost immediately and mature into red egg-shaped fruits in late summer.
#5. Wilson’s Magnolia (Magnolia Wilsonii)
If your area has a lot of shade and you’re looking for a magnolia plant to use, the Wilson magnolia plant is a shade-loving tree that will thrive in such areas. It is a tree with multiple stems and broad spreading leaves. It has white flowers with fragrance. The flowers consist of nine petals. These flowers come out sparingly in late spring in a bell-shaped form.
Wilson magnolia is a deciduous tree native to Southern China. It grows best in warm climates, in moist and slightly acidic soil. The best zones are between hardiness 6 and 9.
#6. Loebner Magnolia (Magnolia × Loebneri Merrill)
Loebner magnolia is also a multi-stemmed, hybrid species with up to 15 petals. It is a cross of Japanese magnolia Kobus and M. Stelleta. Loebner magnolia is a low-maintenance small tree with flowers looking like a star. The flowers can be white, bluish-pink, pink, or lilac-pink.
This deciduous tree is mainly grown for the aesthetics it brings. It needs protection from heavy winds and frost. It grows best in hardiness zone 5-9 and thrives in moist, organically rich loamy soil in part shade or full sun.
#7. Lily Magnolia (Magnolia Liliiflora)
Also known as Nigra, this small magnolia tree is known for its showy bright flowers. This slow-growing small tree or big shrub can take up to 15 years to grow into maturity. Nevertheless, you’ll continue getting full displays of lily-shaped, pinkish-purple flowers with about 6 to 7 petals. It blooms in spring.
It grows best in acidic, moist, but well-draining soil. Lily Magnolia grows in hardiness zone 5-8 and would need protection from strong wind and frost. It loves a sunny environment but will also thrive in part shade.
#8. Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia Virginiana)
The sweet bay magnolia is native to the eastern seaboard and is an evergreen tree. Sweet bay is one of only two actual evergreen magnolia trees alongside the southern Magnolia. Its fragrant flowers bloom in mid-spring, but they are less showy and less numerous than most of the magnolias mentioned here. It does have at least nine petals on a flower.
It grows in hardiness zone 5-10 and loves wet soil. A shift away from the moist soil-loving magnolias in this list. Perfect for people living in areas with lots of rainfall and damp soil conditions. It grows up to a height of 35’ while spreading up to 35’ at maturity.
#9. Oyama Magnolia (Magnolia Sieboldii)
Oyama is a late-blooming magnolia, but when it does bloom, you’re blessed with a two-tone flower with red stamen and white cup-like flowers. It is a small tree with a maximum height of 15 feet. It is deciduous with rough-textured leaves.
The Oyama magnolia tree will not do well in poor soil conditions like dry soil. Extreme heat can also cause leaf scorch. It loves moist acidic soil while growing under part shade or full sun in hardiness zone 6-8.
#10. Sprenger’s Magnolia (Magnolia Sprengeri ‘Diva’)
Sprenger’s magnolia is a deciduous tree that blooms in early spring. It is mainly grown as a shrub since it is a small tree. It can be used as a specimen tree or an addition to your modern garden design. Its bloom is a breathtaking sight as it shows deep pink flowers on the outside and pale pink on the inside. The flower has up to 14 petals and avoids most of the frost by coming out later.
It grows in part shade or full sun and slightly acidic, moist soil. The soil should also be organically rich, and well-draining as this magnolia will struggle in wet soil.
Magnolias are beautiful trees with elegant flowers of different tones and fragrances. Having them in your garden brings a different direction and design to it. There are over a hundred magnolia trees available, but we’ve listed some of the most popular types and some of their peculiarities for you.