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Lawn & Garden

Types of Magnolias

What tree symbolizes your state? Well, here in Georgia it is not the Live Oak, which is our state tree. No, I would say that the Southern Magnolia has a strong correlation to the south and to Georgia. The Live Oak grows around our southern coast but the Magnolia is growing wild in just about any woods that you walk through, throughout the state.

The Southern Magnolia is just one of many magnificent magnolias that calls Georgia home. There are about 80 different types of magnolias native to the eastern United States and Asia. Lets face it, a true southern magnolia could grow to cover up your entire yard.

This is why so many hybrids have been bred to come up with that perfect specimen.However, not all magnolias are huge evergreen trees. Lets look at some of the different types that are common in the state.

Magnolia Grandiflora

This tree is found in older homesteads and growing wild in woods and tree lines. These brilliant trees produce beautiful, large flowers and are pretty resistant to most insects and diseases, but they are just so big. Because of this, this tree has been bred to be that perfect size,with new varieties designed to fit into landscapes residentially and commercially.


Some of these varieties like DD Blanchard, Little Gem, Teddy Bear, Hasse and Kay Parris are great, smaller options for smaller areas. If you are a little further North, then ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’, which can take zone 5B, would be a better option for you.

Saucer Magnolia

This early bloomer marks the beginning of spring and will get loaded with beautiful pink flowers. It will be one of the first things blooming and makes a gorgeous specimen tree or backdrop in your landscape. Its medium size will not overwhelm a landscape and will grow at a moderate pace. This very showy, deciduous tree is a must for any landscape. This tree has great pest and disease resistance.

Sweetbay Magnolia

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.
Check out our 8 Water Loving Trees.

Star Magnolia

Star can be grown as an rounded specimen tree or on a wood line or natural area. It is named after its brilliant white flowers with about 15 or so petals. This is a good alternative to the Saucer magnolia which holds a vase shape with pink tulip shaped flowers. Like most Magnolias, Star is resistant to most insects and diseases.

Bigleaf Magnolia

This magnolia is rarely found but it can be seen and identified from a mile away when you stumble across it. This is a country tree, intolerant of the city pollutants and you should feel privileged to come across it. This tree only blooms in its teenage years and the blooms are usually too high up to see. These blooms however, are12 inches wide and saucer shaped and very fragrant. This tree likes sheltered areas, away from wind that can damage the leaves. This tree is usually found in the southeastern United States, around the Appalachian Mountain area. Macrophylla’s leaves can grow to be almost 3 feet long and up to 1 foot wide.

This tree is not often seen in nurseries, as it is not often propagated due to its demanding needs.It likes loose, rich, fertile, undisturbed soil with plenty of moisture.


There are 2 other subspecies of Magnolia macrophylla.

Magnolia magrophylla ashei

This one only grows to 15 feet tall and is found further south (mid-florida), in warmer, sub tropic climates as well.It is commonly found along the Apalachicola River.

Magnolia macrophylla dealbata

This subspecies is native to Mexico.

Little Gem Magnolia

Little Gem is a much smaller, more manageable version of the Southern Magnolia. This tree is found in just about every office park in the south and makes a great evergreen screen to block out the neighbors. These brilliant trees produce beautiful, large flowers and are pretty resistant to most insects and diseases.

What types of Magnolias grow in your area?

What tree best represents your region or state?

Write me back with your favorite trees or questions!

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Posted 2015-11-22T20:33:53+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL