What Are The Best Magnolias For Zone 6-(Reviews)
When I hear the name Magnolia I typically think of large Southern Magnolias lining the drive of a southern plantation. The large glossy leaves. The huge white fragrant flowers. Ahhh I can picture it and smell the lemony scent of them now. What most people don’t know is that it is not the only type of Magnolia, and they aren’t just for the deep south.
In this article I will describe several Magnolia varieties that will work as far North as zone 5b.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Brackens Brown Beauty’ or Southern Magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora is a type of the variety I described in my opening. These are evergreen with large glossy dark green leaves and very fragrant white flowers. The leaves can be as large as 7” long and are shiny dark green on the top and brown and fuzzy on the underside. Bracken’s Magnolia will keep their leaves all winter in the St. Louis area, but as new leaves come out in the spring they will shed some of their older leaves. The large white flowers can get up to 6” across and give off a very Lemon Pledge type smell. The trees can get up to 30’ tall and 25’ wide. They will grow in full sun to part shade and don’t like it too wet or too dry. One more thing of interest to mention about the Bracken’s Magnolia is the seedpod. After the flowers are done (they bloom in May – June) a large seedpod forms. The pods can be attractive because they are about 3” long with browns and reds in them, but they can also be somewhat of a litter problem if there are many of them.
Overall this is a great medium sized evergreen tree. It does need some room to grow because as I mentioned they can get up to 25’ wide, but if you plant it in the right location it is a relatively low maintenance attractive tree.
Magnolia acuminata or Cucumber Tree
This is the only Magnolia native to Missouri. It can be found growing naturally in southern Missouri. These trees can get up to 70’ tall and 35’ wide, but they are not evergreen like the Bracken’s. The flowers on this variety are yellow and can get up to 4 inches across. The fruit is where this tree gets its common name because it resembles a cucumber. The fruit appears in late summer and turns red in the fall. Magnolia acuminata is not commonly used in the landscape because it gets so large. It would make a good shade tree that also will give you some flowers in early spring.
Magnolia stellata or Star Magnolia
This is one of the more popular varieties of Magnolia that you see around St. Louis. They are usually grown as a multi stem or shrub form. The Star Magnolia has white flowers in early spring. Sometimes it blooms a little too early and the flowers get damaged by the cold weather. The flowers are usually very plentiful, and they appear before the foliage so you end up with a plant covered by white multi petaled flowers. The plant gets about 15’ tall and wide so it is one of the smaller varieties of Magnolia. The fruit of the Star Magnolia turns red in the fall, but other than that there is not much fall color. This is an excellent large shrub or small tree that could fit in many different areas of a landscape. It is also hardy all the way to zone 4.
Magnolia virginiana or Sweet Bay Magnolia
This is one of my favorite Magnolias for the St. Louis area because it can take our heavy clay soils, has fragrant flowers, showy leaves, colorful fruit, and in a mild winter it might even hold on to some of its leaves.
Sweet Bay Magnolias are usually found as a multi stem and can get anywhere from 15’ to 30’ tall and wide. They have long slender glossy green leaves with a silvery underside and white fragrant flowers. The flowers smell kind of lemony and appear in May – June. In late summer the fruit appears and can be a brilliant red in the fall. This variety of Magnolia can take a wet soil, so it can be used in areas where many other plants can’t.
Magnolia Ann & Jane
These are also very popular Magnolias in the St. Louis area. They are very similar that is why I lumped them together in this blog. Ann & Jane are also among the smaller varieties of Magnolias for this area. They will get about 10’ tall and wide and are usually found in shrub form. They are both used primarily for their flower colors. Ann has a purple/ reddish color and Jane is very similar except it has some white in the middle of the flower. Like the Star Magnolia they bloom before the leaves come out, and they can be used in a variety of ways in a landscape.
Magnolia soulangeana or Saucer Magnolia
Saucer Magnolia is very similar to the Ann and Jane except it has a different flower color and gets a little bigger. The flowers are more white with some purple whereas the Jane is more purple with some white. The Saucer Magnolia can get up to 20’ tall and wide. This is also another variety that can tend to bloom a little too early. They typically bloom in March and therefore the flowers can get some damage to them in colder weather. All that being said, it is a good choice for early color in the spring.
Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ or Butterfly Magnolia
This is one of Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plants Of Merit. This means it has been selected by industry professionals to be a plant that performs well in the St. Louis area. They can get up to 20’ tall and 15’ wide. They are usually found in tree form, but can also be used in a multi stem form. Butterfly Magnolia has a yellow flower that has a slight lemony fragrance, and it blooms in late March to early April. These trees are cold hardy for our area and seem to hold up well through our tough summers too.
Many of these varieties also have cultivars that will do well in the St. Louis area. This blog just touched on some of the more popular forms that are readily available at local nurseries. So, as you can see Magnolias are not just plants of the deep south. If you include all the cultivars, there are actually quite a few Magnolias that can be used in and around hardiness zone 6.