Magnificent Magnolias for Mid-Atlantic Gardens


Thousands and thousands of years of evolution and hybridization efforts by generations of fanatics have produced a whole lot of magnolia species and cultivars. Our gentle Mid-Atlantic local weather is conducive for rising a major majority of them, which makes it fairly daunting to pick out only one good specimen. From my lengthy record of favorites, listed below are a number of stellar alternatives with a few of the finest traits that this historical genus has to supply.

Butterflies magnolia
Clear yellow blooms bedeck ‘Butterflies’, a compact choice that could be a good match for smaller gardens. Photograph: Jennifer Benner

‘Butterflies’ magnolia warmly greets spring with sunny blooms

Magnolia ‘Butterflies’

Zones: 5–9

Measurement: 15 to twenty toes tall and 10 to fifteen toes vast

Situations: Full solar to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Small bushes with yellow early spring blooms are sometimes onerous to come back by, which explains my attraction to this beautiful little hybrid. In comparison with different yellow-flowered magnolias, which are likely to have blooms that fade shortly and coloration that could be a bit muddy, ‘Butterflies’ is exclusive. Its upright, 8-inch, tulip-shaped flowers have a nonfading pure canary yellow hue and a lightweight, lemony perfume. It’s smaller in stature than many different alternatives, which makes it an appropriate selection for smaller gardens.

Wadas Memory magnolia
‘Wada’s Reminiscence’ has a tidy, elegant behavior that units it aside from different deciduous cultivars. Photograph: Carol Collins

‘Wada’s Reminiscence’ blooms at a really early age

Magnolia × kewensis ‘Wada’s Reminiscence’

Zones: 5–8

Measurement: 25 to 30 toes tall and 15 to twenty toes vast

Situations: Full solar to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Many deciduous magnolias develop a really asymmetrical, unpredictable behavior with age and maturity, making it fairly a problem to web site them in areas that aren’t giant and open. That isn’t the case with ‘Wada’s Reminiscence’, which develops and maintains a really symmetrical, pyramidal form from a younger age. It additionally begins blooming at a really younger age in comparison with different magnolias. The considerable, pure white, 7-inch flowers burst forth earlier than foliage emerges in early spring, filling the backyard with a pleasant orange-blossom perfume.

Moonglow magnolia
Moonglow® is an excellent choice from a local species that reveals enticing traits each month of the yr. Photograph: Doreen Wynja

Moonglow® candy bay magnolia reblooms all through the rising season

Magnolia virginiana ‘Jim Wilson’

Zones: 5–10

Measurement: 15 to 35 toes tall and 10 to twenty toes vast

Situations: Full solar to partial shade; moist to moist soil

Native plant fanatics, that is the magnolia for you. Candy bay magnolia naturally happens alongside a lot of the Atlantic coast and may be very adaptable to quite a lot of rising situations, together with moist soil. In contrast with the straight species, Moonglow® has a extra vigorous, upright behavior and is extra chilly hardy. Its shiny, darkish inexperienced foliage with silvery undersides is retained and stays evergreen through the winter months. Rising in spring, its pure white, barely cupped, aromatic flowers are bigger than these of the straight species, and it might additionally produce flowers sporadically all through the rising season. Brilliant crimson seeds in conelike fruits add to the attraction of this glorious cultivar.

Ann magnolia
‘Ann’ magnolia has a compact behavior and luminous, late-emerging blooms. Photograph: Jennifer Benner

“The Ladies” bloom later than different cultivars, so their flowers are much less more likely to be nipped by frost

Magnolia ‘Ann’, ‘Betty’, ‘Jane’, ‘Judy’, ‘Pinkie’, ‘Randy’, ‘Ricki’, and ‘Susan’

Zones: 4–8

Measurement: 10 to fifteen toes tall and vast

Situations: Full solar to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Many magnolias bloom very early, so late frosts or freezing temperatures usually trigger vital harm to their floral shows. The Little Woman sequence was developed on the Nationwide Arboretum within the Fifties to treatment that downside. The venture produced eight alternatives, listed above, that flower two to 4 weeks later than most of the early-blooming magnolias similar to saucer magnolia (M. × soulangiana, Zones 4–9) and star magnolia (M. stellata, Zones 4–8). Every of “the women” has her personal distinct character. ‘Ann’ has a compact, shrublike, multistem behavior and mildly aromatic, deep purple to pink flowers that seem from mid-April to Could. Though much less considerable than the preliminary flush, further blooms might develop all through the summer time months. Others within the sequence develop in an identical method, with flower coloration being the principle distinction between them. ‘Judy’, for instance, has flowers which are crimson to purple on the surface and creamy white inside, whereas ‘Ricki’ has reddish to purple blooms with barely much less saturated hues on the inside.

D D Blanchard magnolia from a distance and close up on foliage
When you’ve got sufficient house for its spectacular behavior (left), the evergreen foliage of ‘D. D. Blanchard’ (proper) will probably be a superb focus in each season. Pictures: Adam Glas

‘D. D. Blanchard’ southern magnolia offers putting winter curiosity

Magnolia grandiflora ‘D. D. Blanchard’

Zones: 7–9

Measurement: 35 to 50 toes tall and 20 to 35 toes vast

Situations: Full solar to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

This stately specimen deserves a house in any backyard that may accommodate its sizable behavior. Nevertheless, in smaller areas I’ve seen it skilled as an espalier or pruned into a proper form with nice success. To my eye, the deep-green, high-gloss foliage with wealthy velvety rust to brown undersides make it far superior to any of the opposite southern magnolias, with the potential exception of Teddy Bear® (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Southern Attraction’, Zones 7–9), which you’ll examine right here. Foliage creates a wonderful backdrop for equally beautiful flowers. From late spring to early summer time, dinner plate–measurement blooms produce a spicy, lemony aroma that perfumes the air surrounding this magnificent specimen.


Adam Glas is a backyard supervisor and rosarian on the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore School in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. 

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