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Genus Magnolia (Magnolia)

Magnolia Magnolia 'Ann' Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner
mag-NO-lee-ah Common Name: Magnolia
These woodland trees and shrubs are native to East Asia and eastern North America. Their highly-visible, cup-, saucer-, star-, or goblet-shaped flowers often lavishly cover the naked branches of deciduous species, adding drama to the landscape; evergreen species provide a rich, green backdrop to the waxy blossoms. Magnolias bloom in a wide range from early spring through late summer. They are well-suited to groves, and naturalistic and specimen plantings.
Noteworthy characteristics: With their showy blossoms that seem to break the long spell of winter, these glorious trees and shrubs exhibit a garden presence that radiates with visual, aromatic, and architectural qualities.
Care: Grow in moist, well-drained, preferably acidic to neutral soil in sun or partial shade; they do not tolerate wet feet. Magnolia flowerbuds are susceptible to late-season frosts; shelter large-leaved species from windy locations. Prune trees and deciduous shrubs in late winter or late summer to prevent bleeding of sap; prune minimally to maintain a healthy framework. Minimally prune evergreen shrubs in mid-spring, trimming back to deadhead or maintain symmetry.
Propagation: Sow seeds in autumn or stratify to hasten germination. For deciduous magnolias, root softwood cuttings in early summer; for evergreen species, root semi-ripe cuttings from late summer through late fall. Magnolias can be layered in early spring, grafted in winter, and propagated by bud in summer.
Problems: Bacterial leaf spot, spot anthracnose, canker, dieback, butt rot, powdery mildew, anthracnose, fungal spots, weevils, snails, scale insects, thrips, planthoppers.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Magnolia

Magnolia 'Ann' Magnolia 'Ann'
(Little Girl hybrid magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This hardy cross between M. liliiflora and M. stellata is an open, deciduous shrub up to 20 feet tall and wide. It blooms in early spring and sporadically into fall, with goblet-shaped, deep pinkish-red flowers that are 7 to 9 inches long.

Magnolia 'Butterflies' Magnolia 'Butterflies'
(Magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This cross of M. acuminata and M. denudata usually forms a small tree with an upright central leader or sometimes a multi-stemmed shrub. It has yellow cup to star-shaped flowers (3 to 4 inches across) that are fragrant and appear before the leaves in early to mid-spring.

Magnolia 'Elizabeth' Magnolia 'Elizabeth'
(Magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Few species can match the elegant drama of this specimen in full bloom. It has luminous, pale yellow, cup-shaped flowers to 6 inches across that seem to glow on the bare branches in late spring.

Magnolia 'Galaxy' Magnolia 'Galaxy'
(Magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This deciduous hybrid offers candy-scented, goblet-shaped blooms to 10 inches across in vivid reddish-purple. It forms a pyramidal outline, and grows up to 40 feet tall.

Magnolia 'Spectrum' Magnolia 'Spectrum'
(Magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This deciduous tree offers vivid pink flowers like M. 'Galaxy,' but with fewer, larger, and more deeply-hued blossoms. It grows up to 40 feet tall and forms a broadly oval outline.

Magnolia × loebneri Magnolia × loebneri
(Loebner magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This small tree is a cross of M. kobus and M. stellata. It has star-shaped flowers (3 to 5 inches across) with 10 to 14 narrow white petals, sometimes tinted in lilac-purple or pale pink. The blossoms are fragrant and appear before the leaves in mid-spring. Loebner magnolia grows to 30 feet tall.

Magnolia × loebneri 'Leonard Messel' Magnolia × loebneri 'Leonard Messel'
(Loebner magnolia)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This rounded, small tree grows to 25 feet tall. It is a cross of M. kobus and M. stellata 'Rosea'. It has star-shaped flowers with 12 narrow petals, white on the inside and purplish-pink on the outside; the transition of color from bud to bloom is a beautiful study in color. The blossoms are fragrant and appear before the leaves in early to mid-spring.

Magnolia × loebneri ‘Merrill’ Magnolia × loebneri ‘Merrill’
(Loebner magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This vigorous, erect tree grows from 20 to 30 feet tall and has star-shaped flowers with 15 broad white petals blushed with pink. The blossoms are fragrant and appear before the leaves in early to mid-spring.

Magnolia × soulangeana Magnolia × soulangeana
(Saucer magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This widely grown hybrid of M. denudata and M. lilliflora is the ancestor to numerous cultivars and grows to 25 feet tall. In mid-spring, it bears fragrant, saucer-shaped white flowers from 3 to 6 inches across deeply flushed with rose-pink or violet.

no image available Magnolia × soulangeana 'Black Tulip'
(Black Tulip magnolia, Saucer magnolia)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This stunning hybrid has deep burgundy tulip-shaped flowers that appear in early spring before its 4- to 6-inch-long leaves unfurl. It makes an excellent small specimen tree, growing to 20 feet tall. It can be topped to form a hedge, and works well in large containers.

Magnolia ashei Magnolia ashei
(Ashe magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This spreading deciduous shrub or small tree has large, light-green glossy leaves to 2 feet long. It flowers in early summer with jasmine- and citrus-scented blossoms in white with maroon markings at the base. Each flower is up to 10 inches across. It grows up to 30 feet tall and wide and is a native of North America.

no image available Magnolia denudata 'Forrest's Pink'
(Lily tree, Magnolia, Yulan)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This cultivar creates a fragrant cloud of rich bubblegum-pink blossoms on bare branches in spring. It grows to 40 feet tall and wide.

Magnolia kobus Magnolia kobus
(Magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This deciduous tree grows to 40 feet tall and blooms in early spring with a profusion of white-tinged pink goblet to saucer-shaped blossoms that are 3 to 4 inches wide.

Magnolia macrophylla Magnolia macrophylla
(Bigleaf magnolia, Large-leaved cucumber tree, Umbrella tree)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This deciduous species has remarkable leaves that are over 3 feet long and 1 foot wide. They are light green above and silvery beneath. It flowers in early summer with creamy-white, fragrant blossoms that reach a foot across. Magnolia macrophylla grows up to 40 feet tall and wide. It is native to North America.

Magnolia sieboldii Magnolia sieboldii
(Oyama magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This spreading, deciduous shrub grows 15 to 25 feet tall and blooms in late spring to late summer, with white fragrant blossoms. Site where the slightly nodding flowers with rich rose-red stamens can be seen from below. 

Magnolia stellata Magnolia stellata
(Star magnolia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This species is a small, spreading tree with lovely, upward-facing, star-shaped blossoms. Each pure white flower—they are occasionally flushed pink— is 5 inches across and comprised of up to 15 individual petals. They light up the tree's bare branches in early to mid-spring.