19 Different Types of Magnolia Trees for Your Garden

Magnolia, a classic garden tree, is well-known for its grace and elegance. Its large, leathery leaves and stunning pink, purple, yellow, or white blooms make it a prized possession for a gardener. The brightly hued blossoms appear in early spring even before the leaves emerge after bearing the frosty winter. The flowers also produce a delicate scent that can be smelled from decently far away with every breeze. Depending on the climate and environment of its growing region, it can either be evergreen or deciduous.

These low-maintenance flowering plants are tolerant to shady conditions, but always make sure your soil has good drainage. With over 200 varieties, there is certainly a breathtaking one that will thrive in your yard.

Popular Magnolia Varieties

1. Anise Magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia)

Anise Magnolia

Also known as willow-leafed magnolias, as the leaves of this medium-sized deciduous species resemble a willow leaf.  Their narrow, oval, coppery-red foliage turns into a pleasing golden yellow as the fall approaches.  During spring, it blooms into very bright creamy white flowers with curling edges even before the leaves unfurl. It is native to Japan and does best in well-drained acidic soils. Its leaves and greyish bark give off a lemony or anise-like aroma when broken or scraped.

Colors: White, yellow

Flowering Season: Spring to fall

Height/Width: 20-50 feet/ 30-50 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 6-9

2. Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla)

Bigleaf Magnolia

This magnificent deciduous tree is noted for its unique enormous leaves, growing up to up to 32 inches long. These leaves are bright green on top, contrasting a fuzzy, silver, or grey underside, creating a beautiful, two-toned effect with each passing breeze. This southeastern U.S. and Mexico native performs well in moist acidic soil. Though it is usually deciduous, it can be evergreen too in the warmer zones. This low-maintenance plant is not subjected to serious diseases or fungal attacks. This showy magnolia bears large fragrant creamy-white flowers adorned with purple at its bases.

Colors: White

Flowering Season: Late spring to early summer

Height/Width: 30 to 40 feet/ 30-40 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5-8

3. Ashes Magnolia (Magnolia ashei)

Ashes Magnolia

This species is named after its discoverer, William Willard Ashe, pioneer forester of the United States Forest Service. This rare species of magnolia is native to Florida, having bright green, glossy leaves extending about 2-3 feet. It does best in well-drained, rich, acidic soil. The blossoms are fragrant, creamy white, cup-shaped, and opening out flat as they mature. Each flower has 6-8 petals, growing up to 6 inches long, and is pointed at the tip.

Colors: White

Flowering Season: Summer

Height/Width: 25 feet/ 15-30 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 6-9

4. Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata)

Cucumber Tree

Commonly found in Appalachian regions of the U.S., and southern Ontario, it is the most cold-hardy of the lot. It has large glossy deciduous hairy leaves, which are dark green on top and light green on the bottom, growing up to 10 inches long. It also bears slightly fragrant, less showy yellowish-green, tulip-shaped flowers. It performs pretty well in organically rich, well-drained, moist, and acidic soil. While it can survive in moist soils, both extreme wetness and extreme dryness are a threat to this. It gets its name from the green, warty, cucumber-like fruits that follow the flowers.

Colors: Yellowish-green

Flowering Season: Late spring or early summer

Height/Width: 60-80 feet/ 35-60 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 3-8b

5. Lily Magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora)

Lily Magnolia

This is one of the small species of magnolia, which is native to southwest China. During early spring, before the opening of leaves, it puts out a huge flush of tiny, lightly scented reddish-purple or pink blooms, resembling lilies. After flowering, dark green elliptical foliages appear. Its leaves are deciduous and can develop mildew problems.

Colors: Pink or purple

Flowering Season: Late spring or early summer

Height/Width: 8-12 feet/ 8-12 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 6a-9b

6. Kobus Magnolia (Magnolia kubos)

Kobus Magnolia

Also known as Japanese magnolia, as it is native to Japan and Korea. It is a slow-growing species, bearing fragrant white flowers tinged with pink. It blooms before the large dark green deciduous leaves appear. It is a low-maintenance plant, loving rich, well-drained loam.

Colors: Pink, white

Flowering Season: Late winter or early spring

Height/Width: 25-30 feet/25-30 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5a-8b

7. Loebner Magnolia (Magnolia × loebneri)

Loebner Magnolia

This small magnolia is a hybrid produced by crossing Magnolia kobus and Magnolia stellata. In spring, fragrant star-shaped pink and white flowers appear before the emergence of foliages. It grows best in moist acidic soil.

Colors: White, blush pink, lilac-pink

Flowering Season: Early to mid-spring

Height/Width: 20-30 feet/20-30 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5-9

8. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)

Saucer Magnolia

Also known as Chinese magnolia, this variant is created by crossing Magnolia denudata with Magnolia liliiflora. French cavalry officer Etienne Soulange-Bodin first bred it during the 1820s. The huge early spring blooms appear before the leaves emerge. It performs well in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.

Colors: Bicolor – white and magenta

Flowering Season: Late winter or early spring

Height/Width: 20-25 feet/ 20-30 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5a-9a

9. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Southern Magnolia

It is a large evergreen tree, requiring lots of space. This southern beauty, native to the southeastern U.S., is known for its large, pure white fragrant flowers. Its blooms open each morning and then close at night for a few short days. Its flower is honored as the state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi. It has large, leathery elliptical leaves, growing up to 10 inches long. It prefers medium moist acidic soil.

Colors: White

Flowering Season: Late spring, early summer, early fall

Height/Width: 60-80 feet/30-50 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 7a-10a

10. Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

Star Magnolia

As the name suggests, this deciduous magnolia, native to Japan, produces fragrant, star-shaped white flowers. It does best in moist, slightly acidic, organically rich, well-drained soil.

Colors: White

Flowering Season: Spring

Height/Width: 15-20 feet/10-15 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5a-9b

11. Magnolia ‘Jane’

Magnolia Jane

This hybrid magnolia, produced by crossing M. liliiflora ‘Nigra’ and M. stellata ‘Rosea’ is a member of the Little Girl Series created at the National Arboretum.  It is a particularly shrubby form with large purple-red flowers with white centers. It prefers moist, rich, well-drained, neutral to acidic, well-drained soil.

Colors: Bi-Color- purple and white

Flowering Season: Late spring or early summer

Height/Width: 10-15 feet/10-12 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 4a-8b

12. Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Sweetbay Magnolia

This medium-sized, deciduous shrubby plant is native to the eastern U.S. In cooler locations, it is usually deciduous, while in warmer zones, it tends to be an upright evergreen tree. It is an excellent addition to rain gardens, as it likes boggy locations or clay soils. It produces waxy white flowers and has shiny green oblong leaves with silvery undersides.

Colors: White

Flowering Season: Late spring or early summer

Height/Width: 20-30 feet/10-20 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5a-10a

13. Felix Magnolia (Magnolia x ‘JURmag2′ PPAF)

Felix Magnolia

It is a spectacular magnolia sporting masses of fragrant and gorgeous hot pink blooms. This frost-hardy deciduous plant is a newer introduction from New Zealand by a father-son duo named Felix and Mark Jury.

Colors: Pink

Flowering Season: Spring

Height/Width: 15-20 feet/10-15 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5-9

14. Black Tulip Magnolia (Magnolia ‘JURmag1’)

Black Tulip Magnolia

It is an elegant broadleaf deciduous shrub, producing fragrant, deep burgundy, tulip-shaped flowers.  The large, textured, goblet-shaped flowers bloom in early spring before the dark green, obovate leaves appear. This tree can undergo a second flush of blooms in midsummer if it gets adequate moisture and a cool temperature. It does best in moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soil.  This hybrid was first bred in New Zealand by crossing Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ and Magnolia ‘lolanthe’. It is prone to get attacked by scale insects, coral spots, honey fungus, and phytophthora root rot.

Colors: Dark purple, burgundy

Flowering Season: Early spring, midsummer

Height/Width: 15-20 feet/6-10 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5-9

15. Fairy Magnolia White (Michelia x ‘Mic JUR01’)

Fairy Magnolia White

This bushy magnolia species has elliptical, dark green leaves and ushers numerous, fragrant, white blooms. This low-maintenance plant grows in any moist but well-drained soil.

Colors: White

Flowering Season: Spring, summer, fall

Height/Width: 10 feet/ 10 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 4-8

16. Yulan Magnolia (Magnalio denudata)

Yulan Magnolia

Also known as Forrest’s Pink, it is a small deciduous variety, producing exquisite fragrant pink flowers with deep pink bases. The flowers have a lemony fragrance and are native to China. These plants perform best in consistently moist, slightly acidic soil.

Colors: White

Flowering Season: Late winter or early spring

Height/Width: 30-40 feet/30-40 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full Sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 4-9

17. Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala)

Umbrella Magnolia

It is named so due to its enormous shiny leaves, growing up to 24 inches long and 10 inches wide, drooping down around the branches’ ends. Belonging to eastern North America, these flowers produce an unpleasant odor.

Colors: White, pale yellow

Flowering Season: Late spring or early summer

Height/Width: 15-30 feet/15-30 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full Sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 5a-8b

18. Yellow Bird Magnolia (Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Yellow Bird’)

Yellow Bird Magnolia

This gorgeous deciduous magnolia brings out vivid yellow blooms that stand out against needled evergreens or darker buildings. It performs well in moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soil. The goblet-shaped, lemon or canary yellow flowers bloom in the late spring, as the new leaves emerge. Its green leaves change to golden brown during fall. It is a hybrid magnolia variety, produced in Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 1981, by crossing Magnolia acuminata var. subcordata and Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Evamaria’.

Colors: Lemon or canary yellow

Flowering Season: Late spring

Height/Width: 30-40 feet/25-30 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full Sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 4-8

19. Leonard Messel Magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’)

Leonard Messel Magnolia

It is a deciduous shrub with beautiful deep pink buds opening to fragrant pale lilac-pink flowers. It is a hybrid resultant of a cross between Magnolia kobus and Magnolia stellata ‘Rosea’. Like the previous variety, it also does best in moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soil.

Colors: Bi-color – pink and white

Flowering Season: Early to mid-spring

Height/Width: 15-20 feet/10-15 feet

Sunlight Requirement: Full Sun to partial shade

USDA Zone: 4a-9a

Magnolias to Pick According to Size and Flowers

Pink Magnolias: Lily Magnolia, Kobus Magnolia, Saucer magnolia

Yellow Magnolias: Magnolia ‘Butterflies’, Yellow bird magnolia, Magnolia ‘Golden pond’

Red Magnolias: Magnolia ‘Vulcan’, Felix magnolia, Magnolia ‘Genie’

White Magnolias: Anise magnolia, Bigleaf magnolia, Ashes magnolia

Miniature Magnolias: Magnolia ‘Little gem’, magnolia ‘Teddy bear’, Magnolia ‘Ann’

Late-blooming Magnolias: MagnoliaJon Jon’, Magnolia ‘Marillyn’, Leonard Messel

Evergreen Magnolias: Southern magnolia, Magnolia x alba, Magnolia ‘White Caviar’

Magnolias are susceptible to fungal diseases, especially in leaves. So, keeping them well pruned and spraying fungicide may help. Being non-toxic, they are safe for the pets and kids. These early spring bloomers are one of the best glories of the season, whether it’s a mature tree dressed up in cup-shaped flowers or a compact shrub smothered in starry blossom. Their endurance and strength have made them a symbol of everlasting connections, making them a great addition to any wedding bouquet. With an exceptionally long lifespan, these garden beauties will continue to amaze you for hundreds of years.

by | Updated : September 15, 2021



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