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Southern Magnolia Tree Facts in Deep South Landscapes

Updated on July 7, 2017
Peggy W profile image

My grandpa loved gardening. I learned much from him. To this day I enjoy puttering around in our garden growing plants for beauty & food.

Milky white Magnolia blossom
Milky white Magnolia blossom | Source

Blooming Magnolia from Bud Stage to Wide Open

A great many tall and stately magnolia trees dot the lawns in southern landscapes and where we live in Houston, Texas is no exception.

Judging from the numerous ones planted in our neighbor's yards, the local nurseries selling these trees must do very well especially in the Spring of the year when this particular tree puts on its rainment of those creamy to white large and showy blossoms.

When taking a walk around our subdivision, the air is sweetly perfumed with the extremely fragrant magnolia blossoms combined with other plants like jasmine which also exudes wonderful fragrance around the same time of year. It is quite the natural air freshener!

I captured many of these beautiful flower photos as well as tree photos with my handy digital camera this last Spring while my husband and I were taking one of our morning walks.


Magnolia Blossoms
Magnolia Blossoms | Source

When people think of the Deep South, generally the states lumped into that category consist of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

For certain the Southern Magnolia trees grow well there, but they also grow from South Carolina all the way following the Atlantic coastline south to Florida and extend west beyond Louisiana to Oklahoma and the eastern parts of Texas where we have wonderful specimens growing in our Houston subdivision.

Southern Magnolia tree in our subdivision
Southern Magnolia tree in our subdivision | Source

These tall pyramidal shaped trees are also known as the Magnolia grandiflora and come from the family Magnoliaceae.

They can commonly grow to heights of sixty to eighty feet and about half as wide so definitely need enough space in which to spread out and flourish.

They like moisture plus well drained soil but can withstand drought conditions better than some other types of trees.

This is good as Texas withstands some drought conditions on occasion. Other types of trees during severe droughts show great distress and even die. I have yet to notice any magnolia trees doing this at least so far.

Inside of a magnolia blossom
Inside of a magnolia blossom | Source

The Southern Magnolia is an evergreen variety of tree. It does best growing in full sun.

It commonly blooms each Spring and its blossoms can adorn the trees for up to a month or longer from beginning to end of the flowering season.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Magnolia blossoms
Magnolia blossoms
Magnolia blossoms | Source

The size of the blossoms coming from this type of tree are huge! They can be up to one foot or more (12 to 14 inches) in diameter when fully opened. It would be hard to ignore a flower of this dimension! The buds are sizable also as one might imagine.

Even after fully opened these waxy petaled blossoms continue to enthrall the onlooker as the creamy color changes to a sepia tone eventually losing its grasp on the tree and falling to the ground joining the large leathery leaves which are continually shed on a year round basis.

Southern Magnolia tree trimmed up from the ground.
Southern Magnolia tree trimmed up from the ground. | Source

If one chooses to have a Southern Magnolia tree in one's landscape this must be taken into consideration. Picking up the thick leaves of which each one can be up to a foot long is a regular chore to keep a garden looking tidy and well maintained.

As one might be able to tell from my photos, the shade provided by this tree is dense. Often grass does not grow well under these trees unless they are trimmed up from the ground so as to let more sunlight in around the base of their single stemmed trunks.

In the photo shown above these homeowners have purposely pruned their specimen tree up from the ground to better fit the landscape and allow more light to hit the grassy areas.

Southern Magnolia blossom in bud form
Southern Magnolia blossom in bud form | Source

Ways to propagate these magnificent trees.

Shows the Progression from Flowering Magnolia Blossoms to Seeds

After the blossoming time is over, brown cones are left with the bright red seeds of the Southern Magnolia. Birds love to eat these seeds. It also becomes nourishment for squirrels and opossums which savor this tasty seed treat.

One can propagate these trees from seeds successfully if one has the patience to see them grow from seedling stage to that of blossoming which would be many years.

To get the seeds ready to plant, do the following:

  • Harvest the seeds in the fall season of year when they become visible in the pods.
  • Remove the outer coating of the seeds.
  • Put into a jar or ziplock bag with a little moist potting soil.
  • Refrigerate at least 3 months.
  • Plant the seeds at least 1/2 inch deep in potting soil and keep moist.
  • When the sprouted trees are 2 1/2 to 3 inches or more in size they can be re potted into larger containers until grown to a size more suitable to be planted into the ground.

To see a visual of how to accomplish propagating these seeds, watch the video below.

Another way in which to propagate this type of tree as well as numerous other types of plants is by air layering them or placing smaller branches directly into the ground while still attached to the main plant.

A little preparation work is necessary. For air layering, complete the steps below.

  • Remove a band of bark from the branch.
  • Wrap moist sphagnum moss around the newly exposed wound.
  • Tightly secure the sphagnum moss with plastic wrap.
  • Aluminum foil then covers the plastic wrap.
  • Patience and time will reward the gardener with roots at this juncture. It can then be severed from the tree and planted.

For rooting directly into the ground follow step one and cover the branch with soil and something heavy like a rock. Keep watered.

The video below shows both methods of propagation.

Slide Show Showing Different Types of Magnolias Set to Music

From Southeastern Asia to America's Deep South and beyond, there are hundreds of species from the genus known as magnolia.

While the non-hybridized ones do best in warmer climates such as zones 7 to 9 in the United States, some cold hardy cultivars can now be seen in areas further north even to zone 5 such as up in parts of Ohio.

There are many variations in size and these trees also sport a variety of different colored blossoms. Some of these trees are deciduous meaning that they lose their leaves in the winter.

So if one wishes to have one of these beauties in one's landscape, a person now has more choices than ever from which to choose.

Southern magnolia blossom
Southern magnolia blossom | Source

Do you have a Southern Magnolia tree growing in your garden/yard?

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Some interesting facts:

  • These trees are pollinated by beetles, not bees!
  • The Southern Magnolia is the State Tree of Mississippi
  • It is also the State Flower of Mississippi and of Louisiana

Our yard and garden has more than its fair share of trees and plants, so for now I will simply continue to admire these beautiful trees in our neighbors yards especially every Spring when the strong fragrance of their milky white blossoms scent the air.

State flower of Louisiana and Mississippi.

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A markerMississippi -
Mississippi, USA
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B markerLouisiana -
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Hope you enjoyed this look at the magnificent Southern Magnolias and perhaps learned something that you did not already know.

Thinking of the Deep South without these trees gracing the landscape just wouldn't seem right!

Magnolia Blossom
Magnolia Blossom | Source

© 2011 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 15 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello gaynel,

      White spots on magnolia leaves are generally caused by a fungus and according to what I read rarely cause damage to the tree. If it bothers you a fungicide can be applied but since your tree is 25 feet tall, that could be a problem. Most people do nothing and it usually resolves itself. Is your tree in full sunlight? It likes full sun.

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      gaynel 15 months ago

      My leaves are not as large and shinny as my neighbors. I have tiny white dots on the leaves. The tree is 25 feet tall and is loaded with buds. We have had a good rain nearly every week. What should I do about the dots of the leaves and the fact that the tree looks tired?

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi aesta1,

      There are many southern magnolia trees in Houston also and the air is so fragrant when they are in bloom. From what you wrote, you must not have them anymore. Undoubtedly you miss them! Appreciate your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      We don't have room for more trees on our property but certainly enjoy the southern magnolia trees on our neighbor's property especially when they are in bloom with their sweet fragrance permeating the air.

      Rainy and cool day here in Houston too. Good water for the trees and such! Thanks for the share.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I used to have several in my back garden because this is one flower I love so much. It is good to see your magnolias. They are lovely. A friend told me how beautiful it is in Savannah when these flowers are in full bloom.

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