Southern Magnolia Tree Facts in Deep South Landscapes
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 raiment of those creamy to white large and showy blossoms.
Blooming Magnolia from Bud Stage to Wide Open
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 a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ways to Propagate These Magnificent Trees
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.
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.
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.
Slide Show Showing Different Types of Magnolias Set to Music
Do You Have a Southern Magnolia Tree Growing in Your Garden/Yard?
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!
Questions & Answers
When is the best time to prune Magnolia trees?
If you do not wish to affect next years blossoms, then trimming southern magnolia trees after they finish blooming would be the best time.Helpful 9
- Helpful 3
Do seeds from a Southern Magnolia in Tampa, Florida need to go through a 3-month process of chilling in the refrigerator? We don't actually have true winters, that's why I'm asking.
To my best guess, I would think that it would not be necessary. The seeds are naturally spread by birds and animals who eat them. Only about 50% of seeds germinate if the soil conditions, sunlight, and hydration are correct. The ones that are grown from bird and animal excrement are not chilled. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
Magnolias are slow growing, so if you are going to do it from seed, be patient.Helpful 3
Are Southern magnolias evergreen?
The answer is yes. Southern magnolias shed leaves on a year-round basis, but never lose all of their leaves as deciduous trees do.Helpful 1
Do you prune the "suckers" aiming at a single clean trunk of the tree?
I have not personally grown this type of tree but generally speaking, if a tree does produce a sucker, it is a good idea to get rid of it for the reason you specified in your question.
© 2011 Peggy Woods