Magnolia grandiflora
Common Name: southern magnolia
Type: Tree
Family: Magnoliaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 60.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Air Pollution

Culture

At best, this plant is considered to be winter hardy to USDA Zone 6b and is not reliably winter hardy in the St. Louis area. If grown in St. Louis, it should be sited in a protected location. Plants may become somewhat deciduous in hard winters. It is best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Part shade may be best. It is generally intolerant of soil extremes (dry or wet). It is also intolerant of many urban pollutants. Trees will become quite large over time and should be planted in areas where they can expand. See M. grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ for a cultivar that is reliably winter hardy to USDA Zones 5b and is generally considered to be a much better selection for St. Louis landscapes than the straight species.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Magnolia grandiflora is a broadleaf evergreen tree that is noted for its attractive dark green leaves and its large, extremely fragrant flowers. It typically grows to 60-80’ tall with a pyramidal to rounded crown. This is a magnificent tree of the South. It is native to moist wooded areas in the southeastern United States from North Carolina to Florida and Texas. Leathery evergreen ovate to elliptic leaves (to 10” long) are glossy dark green above and variable pale green to gray-brown beneath. Fragrant white flowers (to 8-12” diameter) usually have six petals. Flowers bloom in late spring, with sparse continued flowering throughout the summer. Flowers give way to spherical cone-like fruiting clusters (to 3-5” long) that mature in late summer to early fall, releasing individual rose-red coated seeds suspended on slender threads at maturity.

Genus name honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715).

Specific epithet is from Latin meaning large flowers.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Not winter hardy to St. Louis.

Garden Uses

Beautiful specimen flowering tree for USDA Zones 6b-9.