Southern Magnolia Facts – Tips On Planting A Southern Magnolia Tree

What Is A Southern Magnolia?

A southern magnolia (Magnolias spp.) is a small evergreen shrub or small tree native to the southeastern United States. They are one of the most popular houseplants in America, with over 200 million plants planted each year! The name “magnolia” comes from the Spanish word for “big” or “large”.

The leaves of a southern magnolia are very long and narrow, which makes them look like they have been cut out of a book. Their flowers are white with pink centers and grow in clusters at the ends of branches. The fruit is yellowish-white and grows up to 3 inches across when mature. The seeds are round, oval, or oblong; but their shape varies greatly depending on where it was grown.

How To Care For A Southern Magnolia Tree

When growing a southern magnolia tree, it’s best not to overwater your plant. If you do, the roots will rot and eventually die. Water regularly during dry periods so that the soil stays moist but doesn’t become too wet. Do not allow the soil to get too hot either because they can burn easily if left in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.

If planted outdoors, they will grow into a large bushy shrub if allowed to grow without trimming. If you want to keep it small, prune the tips of the branches to encourage branching.

When it comes to fertilizer for a southern magnolia tree, it’s best not to fertilize them because they are sensitive to certain nutrients. If you must fertilize it, use only slow-release, acid-efficient fertilizers. Once the tree begins to bloom, add a layer of mulch around it to retain moisture and keep the soil cool.

How To Care For A Southern Magnolia Flower

There are two types of southern magnolia flower, the sweetbay magnolia (M. glauca) and the swampbay magnolia (M. virginiana). They both smell strongly of pineapple when in full bloom and can be used as an ingredient in making jam or jelly.

To care for a southern magnolia flower, make sure the soil is loose and rich in organic material. They prefer moist soil but not constantly soggy soil.

Southern Magnolia Facts – Tips On Planting A Southern Magnolia Tree -

Southern magnolias are propagated through seeds or cuttings. They grow best in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10; however, you can grow them as houseplants anywhere. To do this, place them in an area with bright, indirect sunlight. They need their soil to be constantly moist, but not soggy.

Watering them with a mister every day will prevent the soil from drying out.

If you want to start your own, plant the seed in a 6- to 8-inch pot filled with quality potting soil. Keep the soil evenly moist and the pot in a warm location until the seed germinates. This can take up to 3 weeks.

Harvesting the seeds isn’t recommended unless you have a large population of flowering plants. Most of the seeds will not germinate and only a few will grow into flowering plants. To collect the seeds, let the fruit fall from the tree and then transfer them to bag to allow them to further ripen. Once they are a dark brown color, remove them from the bag and rub them gently to remove the seed.

You can eat the seed right away if you want; however, they are very bitter. Most recommend that you soak them in salt water for a couple of days to draw out the bitterness and then roast them in a pan on the stove.

Other Facts About Southern Magnolias

The leaves are a beautiful dark green color and can be used as a substitute for bay leaves when cooking. While they do have a piney fragrance, they aren’t as strong as their flowers.

The flowers of the southern magnolia tree are known to be humongous – up to 10 inches across! They open up in a star pattern and remain on the tree for up to two weeks.

Sources & references used in this article:

… -element content of foliage of Roundleaf Japanese holly (Ilex crenata’roundleaf’) and Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) plants grown in containers by HP Orr – 1960 –

Tree Appraisal by L Purcell – Purdue University Department of …, 2012 –

Illustrated Book of Trees: The Comprehensive Field Guide to More than 250 Trees of Eastern North America by WC Grimm – 2002 –

Southern shade: A plant selection guide by J Kellum – 2008 –

Broadleaf species recognition with in situ hyperspectral data by R Pu – International Journal of Remote Sensing, 2009 – Taylor & Francis

Abiotic disorders of landscape plants: A diagnostic guide by LR Costello – 2014 –

Chemical Divergence in Floral Scents of Magnolia and Allied Genera (Magnoliaceae) by H Azuma, M TOYOTA, Y Asakawa… – Plant Species …, 1997 – Wiley Online Library

Landscape tree performance by ES Barnard – 2002 – Columbia University Press



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