Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Trees, Shrub-like Trees, Deciduous
Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade
Water Use: medium
Soil Moisture: moist, wet
Soil Description: acid, rich, loam, clay, sand
Bloom Time: May, June, July
Bloom Color: white
Leaf Color: green
Hardiness Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Additional Tags: attracts birds, fragrant flowers, fragrant plant, pond margin plant, salt tolerant, semi-deciduous, showy fruit, stream margin plant, swamp plant, wetland plant
Pricing & Availability
Magnolia virginianaAlso known as:
Magnolia virginiana is a low growing, multi-stemmed tree that typically reaches a mature height of 30', occasionally 60' in the south under ideal conditions. The form is upright with an irregular crown. It is deciduous in the colder parts of its natural range, semi-deciduous to evergreen in warmer areas. The leaves are oblong, smooth, glossy green above, frosted and whitish below. Along with the twigs, they exude a mild fragrance reminiscent to that of bay laurel, hence the common name "sweetbay". The flowers are large, up to 6" across, cup-shaped, creamy white and very fragrant. They can often be smelled from hundreds of yards away. It does not bloom as abundantly as some other species, but the flowering time can extend from mid-spring, well into summer. The fruit appear as showy, tight cone-like clusters of red berry-like seeds.
Magnolia virginiana is easy to grow in slightly acidic, rich, moist soil. Unlike most magnolias, it is tolerant of wet, boggy soils and even heavy saturated clay. Often found along swamps and wetland margins, it will tolerate regular to seasonal inundation in up to 3" of water, and is moderately salt resistant. It is best grown in full sun, but will tolerate part-shade. Its form will tend to become leggy under low light conditions. It has a suckering habit that can easily be controlled. Stems and lower branches can be removed to create a single trunk encourage a more typical tree form. Any pruning should be done during the growing season. This tree can be used effectively as a foundation plant and specimen for residential gardens, or planted in groups along woodland margins and water features. Blooms in May, then sporadically through July. Zones 6-10
Propagate in summer from semi-hardwood cuttings. Can be propagated from freshly collected seeds. Stored seeds will require a period of cold stratification. Viability is low.
This species was discovered in 1678, and its blooms came to typify all flowers, hence the botanical class "Magnoliophyta", which means: flowering plants.
Native Range & Classification
Recorded County Distribution: USDA data
AL, AR, DC, DE, FL, GA, LA, MA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA