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Lawn & Garden

Magnolia virginiana, Sweetbay magnolia


Common name: Sweetbay magnolia

Type: tree

Family: Magnoliaceae

Zone: 5 to 9      Find Your Zone

Height: 40 to 60 feet

Width: 20 ft

Bloom Time: June thru September

Bloom Color: white followed with red seeds

Sun exposure: full to partial

Soil: wet to damp

Leaves: evergreen or semi-evergreen

Fertilizer: Vigoro Tree, Shrub and Evergreen or Miracle Gro Evergreen Tree Spikes


Also known sometimes as sweet magnolia, swamp laurel or white bay, the Sweetbay magnolia is most prominent along creek sides and swampy lowlands in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina but can grow as far north as Pennsylvania. This tree can handle extensive flooding or damp conditions. The silvery underside of these trees leaves puts on a brilliant show in the wind. Sweetbay can also handle well drained soil and makes a great specimen tree and will be the focal point in any landscape. Not to be confused with Saucer Magnolia which has a pink flower and does not do as well in wet places.


STEP 1: Digging the hole

  • Find a location that has suitable sun exposure for your particular type of plant.
  • Dig your hole an inch or two shallower than the rootball of the plant.
  • Dig the hole twice the diameter of the rootball.
  • Scuff up the sides of the hole with a shovel to help roots break through the native soil.

STEP 2: Putting plant in hole

  • When removing the plant from the pot, check to see if the roots were circling the pot.
  • If the plant is rootbound, gently break up the roots with your hands until loosened up.
  • Set plant level, in the center of the hole.
  • Make sure the top of the rootball is just above soil level.

STEP 3: Amending the soil and filling in the hole

  • Amend the soil with proper amendments for your soil type. 
  • Incorporate 50% native soil with 50% amendment soils like garden soil, composted manure or soil conditioner.
  • Make sure dirt clods are broken up or removed from hole along with rocks.
  • Fill the hole with soils to the soil level and pack down. Do not cover top of rootball with dirt.
  • Water in thoroughly to remove air pockets.

STEP 4: Mulching and fertilizing

  • Cover the planting site with at least 2 inches of the mulch of your choice (pinestraw, cupress mulch,etc.)
  • High Phosphorus root stimulator fertilizers like Quick Start from Miracle Gro are great to use at time of planting.
  • When planting trees, a tree stake kit may be required to prevent the wind from blowing over or breaking our newly planted tree until it becomes established.

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Related Articles:

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8 Water Loving Trees

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Posted 2015-05-10T17:02:12+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL