Magnolia Evergreen Varieties: Learn About Evergreen Magnolias

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

One of our most elegant and showy ornamental trees is the magnolia. Magnolias may be deciduous or evergreen. The evergreen magnolias provide cheery greenery in the drab doldrums of winter and are therefore valued for their leathery foliage. First, you need to decide on the size and attributes which best suit your garden.

Evergreen Magnolia Trees

There are about 125 species of magnolia which may be evergreen, deciduous or even semi-evergreen. The lustrous green leaves are a standout feature with light green, silver or reddish fuzzy undersides. Evergreen magnolias afford the pleasure of enjoying a leafy tree year-round. Not all species are suited for all zones, but most magnolias are fairly adaptable and will thrive in warm to temperate regions.

Few things are more saddening than watching the leaves fall from the trees. While the display may be colorful, it signals the end of the warm season and the rise of the cold stormy winter. This is why trees that hold their leaves are so important, to remind us of a time that will come again, a season of bold promise and plenty. Evergreen magnolia trees uphold this promise and add dimension and life to the landscape.

  • Magnolia grandiflora is one of the most commonly grown of the group. It has numerous cultivars with different characteristics.
  • While M. grandiflora can get up to 60 feet (18 m.) in height, ‘Little Gem’ will grow just over 30 feet (9 m.) tall, making it perfect for the smaller landscape.
  • Smaller still is ‘Kay Perris,’ which is only 19 to 30 feet (6-9 m.) tall with glorious leaves tinged orange on the underside.
  • Almost as cuddly as its name, ‘Teddy Bear’ is a relatively new cultivar with a compact shape, glossy cup-shaped leaves and downy fuzz on the reverse.

Magnolia Evergreen Trees for Any Landscape

  • The Fairy magnolias are all evergreen and offer pink, white or cream scented flowers, often throughout the year. Magnolia x alba is from Southeast Asia and purported to bring good luck. The plant produces some of the most fragrant blooms in the genus.
  • Yellow-purple flowers in every season but winter signal the presence of Magnolia figo. It has glossy green leaves and a slow growth rate.
  • Its cousin, Magnolia ‘White Caviar,’ has tulip-shaped blooms in creamy white. The leaves are evergreen and pleasantly rounded.
  • For winter-blooming, try Magnolia doltsopa. Large scented white flowers grace the tree throughout the cooler season. The plant is truly one of the most valuable magnolia evergreen trees for winter interest.

Compact Magnolia Evergreen Varieties

We’re not done yet. The smaller forms also have evergreen foliage and intense blooms.

  • ‘Bubbles’ is a cultivar with pointed glossy green leaves and white flowers with blushed margins. It forms a very compact pyramid-shaped tree.
  • Magnolia laevifolia, or ‘Scented Pearl,’ not only has a fantastic name but a tolerant nature and long spring bloom period. Blooms are creamy ivory, lightly scented and prolific. The plant is pest and disease resistant in most cases and produces a compact attractive form.

There are new cultivars coming out every few years with bigger blooms, more beautiful foliage and greater hardiness. Do your homework and make sure the tree you choose is right for your zone and landscape size. Enjoy your majestic magnolia!

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Deciduous vs. Evergreen Magnolias

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When selecting among the many types of magnolia trees to grow in your garden, it's important to recognize the differences among them. The differences between deciduous magnolias and evergreen magnolias go far beyond the fact that deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter months, while evergreen trees retain theirs.

Choosing one of the many types of magnolia trees depends on where you live, your landscaping preference and even the amount of work you're willing to put in to care for the magnolia. Numerous types of magnolia trees exist, spanning many U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones.

Growing the Moonglow® Sweetbay Magnolia

Size and Appearance

The Moonglow Sweetbay Magnolia is a large multi-stem tree, growing to 35 feet tall and spreading 20 to 25 feet wide within 20 years of planting. It typically has about 5 main trunks, with branches low down, and forms a dense, upright tree of considerable beauty. The smooth bark is an attractive soft-gray, complementing the rich green of the foliage. The leaves are smooth, glossy and oval, about 5 inches long and 2 inches wide. They have a leathery texture, and the upper surface is rich, dark green, while the underside is covered with soft, silvery hairs. This tree is evergreen throughout zone 5, and loses some leaves in zone 4, but these are quickly replaced in spring.

In May the first blooms appear, prominent on the ends of the branches. They are open and cup-shaped, 6 inches across, with a large central cluster of stamens and the pistil. The petals are thick, with a rich texture, and a creamy-white color – the ‘moonglow’ of this plant’s name. They release a powerful fragrance, like vanilla, which spreads across the garden for hundreds of feet, drifting through open doors and windows into your home as well. It truly is one of the delights of early summer. Each blossom lasts a full week, and since more are produced in succession it is early July before the last blooms are over. As a final piece of seasonal interest, by fall the spent blossoms have turned into fascinating seed pods, like pine cones, which change from green to brown and then split open to show a flash of large, bright red seeds.

Using the Moonglow® Sweetbay Magnolia in Your Garden

For evergreen lawn trees, it is difficult to beat such a beautiful tree as this one. Plant it on a large lawn for shade and to be admired. Grow it by a garden entrance, or along a boundary fence. Planted near your home you can enjoy its perfume without even stepping outdoors. Plant it in open wooded areas, or edging forest. Since it enjoys wet soil it is perfect beside a stream, lake, river or pond, and since it is a native plant it is perfect for natural gardens and wild settings. It would also make a spectacular screening tree.


The Moonglow Sweetbay Magnolia is very hardy, and it stays completely evergreen in zone 5, tolerating rapid changes in temperature and arctic fronts. It will grow well in zone 4 too, although there it will probably lose a significant number of leaves during winter. Don’t worry – those bare branches will soon produce fresh green leaves with the first warmth of spring. Further south it is always evergreen, and this tree thrives in the heat and humidity of the south, even throughout Florida.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Full sun is perfect for the Moonglow Sweetbay Magnolia, but it also grows well in partial shade, fitting in among larger deciduous trees. It grows in almost all garden soils, thriving in moist, slightly acidic ground, but not particularly fussy at all. Although it has some drought resistance when well-established, it prefers moist soil, and enjoys wet conditions, making it perfect for low-lying places and beside water.

Maintenance and Pruning

After a little pruning when young to give your tree a good branch structure, this tree needs no particular attention at all. Plant it where it has enough room to fully develop, as you don’t want to be trimming a great tree like this. It normally has no particular pests or diseases.

History and Origin of the Moonglow® Sweetbay Magnolia

Although greeted with great enthusiasm when it first arrived in England in 1678, the sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, was soon eclipsed there by the southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora, with its larger leaves and flowers. Wild trees can be found in damp woodland all the way from Long Island, New York down the east coast into Florida, and in the Deep South and around the Gulf of Mexico.

Earl Cully had a tree nursery in Morgan County, Illinois. When young he had been closely guided by horticulture professor J.C. McDaniel of the University of Illinois to appreciate trees, and magnolias were always a passion of McDaniel. In 1975 Cully was examining a row of seedling sweetbay magnolias, and one stood out. He spent the next 20 years evaluating it, and through his contacts growing examples in many different climate zones. After this thorough screening he was granted a patent on his tree in 2001, with the name ‘Jim Wilson’, in honor of the host of the PBS gardening program, ‘Victory Garden’. This tree has always been sold with the trademark name of Moonglow®.

Buying the Moonglow® Sweetbay Magnolia at The Tree Center

The Moonglow Sweetbay Magnolia is an outstanding choice for colder zones, and just as great in warmer ones too. This widely-praised tree is always in high demand, and we know our stock will soon be gone. Order now and enjoy one of America’s best flowering trees.

Magnolia Grandiflora Features: An Overview

  • Southern magnolias belong to the ancient Magnolia genus that contains about 210 species of flowering plants.
  • Magnolias might have appeared on Planet Earth a while before the bees did. Somehow, these plants managed to evolve to spread without bees, but with the help of beetles. Some examples of common beetles that work tirelessly to pollinate Magnolias include weevils, leaf beetles, sap-feeding beetles, and tumbling flower beetles.
  • Magnolias are medium-sized to large flowering trees that can up to 120 feet (37 m) in height. The average size of cultivated plants is somewhere near 90 feet (27.5 m).
  • In general, Magnolia trees have a single stem (trunk) and their overall growth resembles the shape of a pyramid. The timber is hard, heavy, and has a pleasant light color.
  • Magnolia grandiflora plants come along with eye-catching foliage. The typical dark green leaves can turn into beautiful shades of yellow, brown, and even red underneath.
  • Their leaves are broadly ovate with smooth margins. Their appearance is stiff, leathery, and they measure from 5 to 8 inches (12-20 cm) in length and 2 to 5 inches (5-12 cm) in width. The stems have warm and bright hues.
  • During their blooming period, from spring to summer, Magnolia grandiflora trees put on a spectacular display of large, showy, and extremely fragrant flowers. They have a nice scent that resembles lemon citronella.
  • Their blossoms are composed of 12 white petals with a waxy texture. They emerge from the tips of twigs and are no larger than 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter.
  • Once the flowering season has ended, the bloomings are followed by lovely fruits. They are ovoid poly-follicles, light pink to rose-tinted, and contain many red seeds.

Understood for their big, aromatic flowers, Magnolias are available in a range of sizes and shapes. With over 200 plant types, Magnolias can grow in tones of white, purple, green, pink, or yellow. The Magnolia flowers might be star shaped or bowl shaped, depending upon if the types is an evergreen or a deciduous tree or shrub. Belonging To East Asia, The United States And Canada, and Central America, Magnolias can endure environments from temperate to tropical, depending upon the types. With such a big choice, there is a Magnolia that will fit completely in your garden.

  1. Magnolia Tree Recognition and Realities
  2. Planting Magnolia Trees
  3. Growing Magnolias
  4. Illness of Magnolia Trees
  5. Magnolia Trees in Winter Season

Magnolia Tree Recognition and Realities

With such a big genus, there is a Magnolia ideal for any kind of garden and environment. Check out listed below to discover Magnolia tree realities and any information you will require to include a Magnolia to your garden.

Deciduous Magnolia Trees

Star Magnolia ( Magnolia stellata)

The star magnolia is belonging to Japan. Bearing big, star-shaped flowers of pink and white, star magnolias flower in early spring. A sluggish growing tree, star magnolias grow from 5 to 8 feet high and can reach 15 feet in size. Compact and cold durable, the star magnolia is ideal for little gardens in temperate environments.

Dish Magnolia ( Magnolia x soulangeana)

A hybrid plant, the dish magnolia is among the most typical magnolias in gardening. With big flowers in tones of white, purple, and pink, the dish magnolia tree can reach heights of 25 feet. Popular for its ease of growing, the dish magnolia appropriates for lots of environments and soils. It is frequently grown in the United States and the British Isles.

Cucumber Magnolia ( Magnolia acuminata)

The Cucumber Magnolia, otherwise referred to as the cucumber tree, is amongst the biggest of magnolia types. It generally just reaches 50– 60 feet high, this tree can grow as high as 98 feet in perfect conditions. The big, green leaves are easy and plain for magnolias, and the fruit they produce look like cucumbers, for this reason the name cucumber tree. This magnolia is among the few of its types to produce golden leaves in the fall. In addition, the cucumber magnolia is among the hardiest magnolias for cold environments. With its height and big leaves, the cucumber magnolia is perfect for offering shade and personal privacy.

Kobus Magnolia ( Magnolia kobus)

Kobus Magnolia, otherwise referred to as mokryeon or kobushi magnolia, comes from Japan and Korea. This tree is fairly little with a typical height of 25 feet. Its size can not hinder the Kobus magnolia’s attractive flower in early spring. Growing in temperate locations, this tree is a sluggish grower, taking several years to flower. Regardless of this, do not be tricked. With little, aromatic, and white flowers, the Kobus magnolia brings a majestic look to any garden and is definitely worth the wait.

Loebner Magnolia ( Magnolia x loebneri)

A hybrid of the Kobus magnolia and the star magnolia, the loebner magnolia is a pink flowered tree or big shrub. This magnolia grows just to 20 feet high and boast compact, classy flowers. The flowers vary from pale pink to darker purple and pink in color. Comparable to its moms and dad types, the Loebner magnolia flourishes in temperate environments and flower in early to mid-spring.

Evergreen Magnolia Trees

Southern Magnolia ( Magnolia grandiflora)

Belonging To the Southern United States, the southern magnolia, or bull bay, is possibly the most extensively grown magnolia tree. The southern magnolia can reach heights of 90 feet and blackens green leaves and big, white, and aromatic flowers. Suitable for subtropical environments, the southern magnolia is a sluggish growing and marvelous addition to any garden. Regardless of being an evergreen, the southern magnolia drops its leaves year-round, however this tree is genuinely worth the rate.

Sweetbay Magnolia ( Magnolia virginiana)

Otherwise referred to as swampbay or white bay, the sweetbay magnolia flowers look like the southern magnolia. The flowers, although smaller sized than those of the southern magnolia, have an exceptionally powerful scent. This scent resembles a strong vanilla fragrance and is obvious from numerous backyards away. Compared to the southern magnolia, sweetbay can hold up against a more temperate and cooler environment. With its quick development and aromatic flowers, the sweetbay magnolia is perfect for big gardens and parks.

Planting Magnolia Trees

It is necessary to prepare where to plant your magnolia tree ahead of time. The area where its planted will assist keep your magnolia alive. Attempt to select an area protected from winds if in a location that anticipates cooler winter seasons than your magnolia can manage. A lot of magnolias require in between 12 and 24 feet of area to flourish. Follow the directions listed below to effectively plant your magnolia tree.

  1. Eliminate the very first 2 inches of soil and shop in a different container. This will be utilized later on in the planting procedure.
  2. Dig a hole a minimum of 1.5 times broader than the root container or ball and somewhat much shorter than the root.
  3. Location the root ball or container in the middle of the hole. The upper root needs to be somewhat in the air.
  4. Complete the hole with the upper soil you have on the side. Keep the top of the root ball revealed. Other techniques consist of partly filling the soil in, watering, then permitting the water to totally drain pipes prior to filling out the hole entirely.
  5. After planting, water 2 to 3 times a week for the very first 6 months, and after that weekly as soon as developed. Usage 2 gallons of water per inch of the magnolia’s trunk size.
  6. Fertilizer can assist magnolia tree development, however it is not essential.

Growing Magnolias

Among the very best functions of Magnolias is their ease of development. These trees are simple to look after and can live for centuries. Below is all you will require to understand for your magnolia tree requirements.

  • Soil and Watering— Most of magnolias choose somewhat acidic soils for development. Attempt to keep your soil well drained pipes and wet. When a magnolia maturates, it ends up being hardier and can withstand more modifications in its soil.
  • Light— A lot of Magnolias flourish completely sunshine or partial shade. If the magnolia is growing in a warmer and dry environment, then extended shade from the sun may be essential. In addition, effort to keep your magnolia far from strong winds– direct exposure to heavy wind can tear flowers and even eliminate branches.
  • Fertilizer— Young magnolias require some fertilizer at the time of planting. When a magnolia is developed and flowering, then no extra fertilizer needs to be required.
  • Pruning— Whether or not to prune your magnolia depends upon your requirements. To keep your magnolia compact, prune after the tree has actually ended up flowering in the start of summertime. Otherwise, no pruning is essential aside from the odd shape up or harmed limb.
  • Garden Bugs— Fortunately, magnolias are resistant to practically all bugs from a garden.

Illness of Magnolia Trees

Although resistant to garden bugs, magnolia trees have a couple of illness that you ought to understand about. Regardless of being unusual, magnolia tree illness can seriously threaten your tree. Below are a few of the most frequently happening illness of magnolia trees and some treatments to assist you treat your magnolia.

  • Wood Rot— Defined by wet, darker colored, and shabby conditions, wood rot is a nasty kind of decay. Activated by wetness and fungis, wood rot requires to be captured early on to conserve the tree. It will be essential to cut out all impacted parts of the tree if you see any indications of wood rot on your magnolia.
  • Canker— Formed by injuries to the tree that enable pests or pathogens to contaminate the tee, cankers are an unattractive blight to all gardening lovers. Cankers are quickly found by seeing uncommon knots on your magnolia or areas that are peeling. To treat your tree, it is best to prune the canker plus about an inch of the healthy tissue to guarantee it is entirely eliminated.
  • Leaf Areas— Leaf areas on your magnolia tree can be algal or fungal in nature. Fortunately, out of all the illness of magnolia trees, leaf areas are not a major condition. It is unneeded to deal with leaf areas if you are practicing excellent watering and soil practices. Merely tidy any dead leaves and continue to treat your magnolia with care.

Magnolia tree illness are unusual and typically not severe. Do your finest to keep an eye on the condition of your magnolia to keep your plant in the very best health possible.

Magnolia Trees in Winter Season

Although some magnolia trees are cold resistant, it is necessary to prepare ahead for your magnolia tree in winter season. Choose a magnolia types that flourishes in the environment you prepare to plant it in. When planting your magnolia, select a place that has some defense versus possible cold winds. It is best to insulate your magnolia if you anticipate an especially cold frost. Wrap the base of the tree with dry insulation such as cardboard or cornstalks. In addition, outside lights near your magnolia will assist keep it warm throughout cold winter season nights. It is essential to prepare for frosts to keep your magnolia trees healthy in the winter season.

Evergreen magnolias as a general rule are far easier to care for. Virginia Tech explains they require less pruning, which usually only involves removing dead or diseased branches. And according to the University of Minnesota, evergreen magnolias are also more tolerant of soil conditions, requiring less soil fertility than deciduous magnolias.

The sweetbay magnolia, for example, can be grown in acidic, wet soils and in both full sun and partial shade. Sweetbay magnolia trees are also easy to maintain in that they have no serious insect or disease problems, according to Missouri Botanical Garden.

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