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Sweetbay MagnoliaMagnolia virginiana

  • Sweetbay Magnolia shrub - Magnolia virginiana
The Sweetbay Magnolia has glistening dark green leaves with a silver underside that has a frosted appearance. The 2"-3" creamy white flowers have a light lemon scent and are visible in late spring and early summer. It is very elegantly shaped and is a good choice for a specimen or patio tree. Bright scarlet-red seeded fruit ripens in late summer attracting many birds. Prefers moist, acid soil with sun to partial shade. Grows 10'-20' high with equal spread.

Hardiness Zones

The sweetbay magnolia can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–9. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The sweetbay magnolia grows to a height of 10–20' and a spread of 10–20' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium to Fast Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium to fast rate, with height increases of anywhere from 13" to more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The sweetbay magnolia grows in acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam, well-drained and wet soils. It will tolerate periodic flooding.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Produces creamy white flowers 2–3" in diameter that carry a light lemon scent.
  • Blooms May through June, avoiding damaging spring frost.
  • Flowers best in full sun.
  • Typically grows as a multi-stemmed specimen but can be found with a single trunk.
  • Features simple leaves 3–5" in length that are dark green and often lustrous on top with a silvery, frosted-looking underside.
  • Grows in a columnar or vase shape.
  • Yields clusters of red fruit that attracts wildlife.
  • Works well as a specimen or patio tree.

Wildlife Value

The fruit is eaten by gray squirrels, white-footed mice, turkey and quail as well as a variety of songbirds including vireos, towhees, Northern flicker and blue jays.