Magnolia grandiflora

Southern Magnolia

Mature Size, Growth Longevity

Average mature size of species 60-80' tall and 30-50' wide. May grow larger in optimal conditions, many cultivars will stay smaller. Dense, low-branching, columnar-pyramidal shape, variable by selection. Slow to medium growth rate, can be made faster with adequate water and fertilizer. Medium longevity, to 100 years.

Native Range

Native North Carolina to Florida, west to Arkansas and Texas. Cultivated 1734.

Flower and Fruit Details

Flowers are perfect, large, creamy white & fragrant. 8-12" diameter, solitary, May-June. Variation exists in seedling-grown plants as to the age of first flowering and flower coverage, hence reliable cultivars are recommended. Fruit is a rose-red aggregate of follicles, 3-5" long, ripening in September to November, splitting open to reveal the red seeds. For seedling propagation, seeds should be collected as they emerge, and they require cold stratification.

Leaf and Bark Features

Evergreen. Simple, oblong leaves arranged alternately, 5-10" long, usually less than half as wide. Lustrous dark green above, lighter green below and often rusty-brown pubescent beneath. Older leaves drop in spring and fall, and never seem to decompose. First-year stems have a wooly pubescence, often brown in color. Bark is smooth gray, older trees may develop large scaly plates. Freshly bruised stems may have a subtle lemon fragrance.

Culture and Care

Best in rich, well-drained, acidic soil, full sun to partial shade. Transplant in winter or early spring. Zones (6)7-9(10); many cultivars available, some with better cold hardiness than others. Problem free. Some weevil damage to leaves.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Other Facts

Suggested Uses

Use as a specimen plant, in an area where it has room to develop. Also used as a grouping or hedge/screen in more southern climates where it grows more reliably.

Taxa and Plants of this Species at BCA

  • Magnolia grandiflora // Southern Magnolia ("straight species")

     

  • Magnolia grandiflora 'Bracken's Brown Beauty' // Bracken's Brown Beauty Southern Magnolia
    One of the best selections for our area. This cultivar is one of the most cold hardy (to Zone 5), transplants easily and does not drop as many leaves. More compact and dense than the species, growing to 30-50' tall and 15-30' wide. Leaves are glossy dark green above, rusty-brown beneath Leaves flowers, and fruit are all smaller than species.

     

  • Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue' // Edith Bogue Southern Magnolia
    Extremely cold hardy, perhaps the hardiest selection available. Open habit, growing to 40' tall and 20' wide. Less susceptible to breakage in heavy wet snows. Leaves are lustrous dark green and narrow, but perhaps not as showy as other selections. Originated as a tree from Florida sent to Miss E.A. Bogue in New Jersey.

     

  • Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' // Little Gem Southern Magnolia
    One of the smallest forms, growing to 15-20' tall and 7-10' wide, often taking on the habit of a large shrub more than a single-leader tree. Leaves smaller than species. Flowers smaller, 3-4", up to 6" diameter when fully opened, borne at a young age. Makes a great screen or hedge. Short lived, 20-50 years. Recommended for smaller properties. Cold hardy, Zones 6-8
    -not currently in our collection-