magnolia flowers

Magnolia Plants and Flowers: Different Types, How To Grow and Care

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Magnolias come from the Magnoliaceae family, and, even though they are native to Eastern and Southern Asia, more specifically to China, they can also be found in the Americas. 

What’s more, magnolias are an ancient type of flower, and it has been argued that they first appeared many thousands of years ago. 

One important characteristic this species has is that they are survivors, this means that they can and will grow and thrive even in the most difficult conditions. 

There are many magnolia species, in fact, there are more than 200 species, but the one thing they all have in common is that each one of them has very distinctive yet beautiful blooms. 

Magnolias are also known for having a sweet fragrance that could last for days. Continue reading this article about magnolias and you’ll soon become an expert! 

Table Of Contents

Magnolia Flower Facts

pink magnolia branches

Magnolia trees usually have very large flowers that can be seen from a distance. The shape of these flowers can be tulip-like or star-shaped, and they can become huge once they open up. 

Another important thing about magnolias is that they don’t have petals or sepals; instead, they have something called ‘’tepals’’, which is a combination of petals and sepals. 

Magnolias are truly beautiful. It can be argued that they are a type of flower that everybody recognizes and loves. Magnolias can grow either as trees or shrubs, and its flowers can be pink, red, yellow, white or purple.

Magnolia: General Description, History, and Name

magnolia tree flowers

Magnolias can be traced back before bees. In other words, magnolias are one of the oldest types of flowers that have ever existed (1).

The name Magnolia about after a French botanist called Pierre Magnol, decided to transplant a Magnolia tree to Europe, more than 300 years ago.

He was so fascinated with this tree, that it was all he could ever think about. Thus, the flowers had to be named after him. 

Also, because Magnolia trees are so ancient, they are not actually able to produce any nectar, because when they first appeared bees didn’t even exist. Instead, they produce pollen and rely on beetles for pollination, making Magnolias a very interesting and unique exception in nature.


Common Types of Magnolia Flowers

Anise Magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia)

anise magnolia

They are usually white, can grow up to six inches wide and it has a very acidic fragrance. Their leaves are very wide in comparison to other Magnolias. They love spring and need to be placed in the full sun. 

Jane Platt (Magnolia stellata)

This type is a hybrid magnolia and they are usually small trees. They also have pale pink petals, however, they don’t have any leaves in their branches. 

Jane Platt trees can grow up to fifteen feet in height and can be found in China and Japan. They don’t feel comfortable with lots of water, so cannot survive in areas where floodings occur. 

Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla)

bigleaf magnolia

This Magnolia stays true to its name, as it can produce massive leaves. It can be an evergreen tree in warm areas, although it is often a deciduous tree. Its blooms can be either white or purple, and sometimes a combination of these two colors. 

Loebner Magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri)

Another hybrid Magnolia, it is a combination between the Kobus and Star Magnolias. Small stems can be seen throughout the tree and it is easily recognized because of its fragrance. 

It either has pink and white, lilac or blush pink flowers and small oval leaves. 

Ashes Magnolia (Magnolia ashei)

They are very similar to Bigleaf Magnolia because it leaves grow really big. It has white flowers and it loves humid climates.

Kobus Magnolia (Magnolia kubos)

kobus magnolia

Its flowers are white with pink detail and they have dark-green leaves that grow very slowly. They can be found in Japan and Korea, and they can grow up to 50 feet in height.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

star magnolia

One of the most famous Magnolia species, they love cold weather but it can adapt to many other types of weather. Even though they grow slowly, they can reach up to fifteen feet in height. Star Magnolia’s flowers are usually white and they are very fragrant.

Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata)

cucumber tree

Definitely one of the most famous and recognized Magnolias because of their fruits. Some people confuse them with a vegetable. They love cold weather and can grow really tall. They can be found in North America, more specifically in the Appalachian Mountains.

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)

saucer magnolia

Also known as the pink tree, this type of Magnolias are very small, fragrant and delicate. They have white, purple or pink flowers and they love being exposed to the sun. It is a hybrid Magnolia, and its parents are the Lily Magnolia and the Yulan Magnolia. It can grow up to 25 feet in height (2).

Lily Magnolia (Magnolia liliflora)

One of the smallest Magnolias, they grow as a small tree. Its flowers are red, purple or pink. They can grow up to 12 feet and love the sun. 

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

southern magnolia

One of the most common types, they love to have all the sun directly towards them. Because of their size, they tend to need a lot of space in order to grow. They have white flowers and love acidic soil (3). 

Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

It is very adaptable so it can grow in either warmer zones or colder zones. They are native to the U.S and can grow up to 35 feet. They also release a lemony fragrance that is easily recognized, and, because of this, they attract many birds. They can tolerate droughts (4). 

Champak Magnolia (Magnolia champaca)

champak magnolia

They have white, yellow or orange flowers. They are native of southern Asia, although nowadays they can also be found in many other areas of the world. Also, Champaca Magnolias love humid climates and can grow up to 30 feet.

Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala)

umbrella magnolia

It has giant leaves and its native to the Appalachian Mountains. It usually prefers the shade, and it has creamy white flowers. They often need pruning in order to avoid any diseases.

Alba Superba (Magnolia x soulangeana)

alba superba magnolia

It loves the sun and they are perfect for small places. They have white petals and sometimes have a purple-pink flower. It is very fragrant and it can expand itself very quickly. 

Forrest’s Pink (Magnolia denudata)

One of the most beautiful Magnolias, it has colorful petals that have a bubble gum pink tone. They love being exposed to the sun, and they are very similar to some types of lilies.

Butterflies Magnolia

butterflies magnolia

Another hybrid Magnolia, it has sunny yellow flowers. It can be cultivated as a tree or a shrub, depending on the landscape. Because of the way it was created, Butterflies Magnolias can survive in the heat and in the cold. 

Merrill Magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri)

Another hybrid Magnolia, it also looks like a star. It can grow up to 30 feet and it has white petals. It usually blooms at an early stage, thus it is highly recommended for those who would like to decorate their gardens and see almost immediate results.

Yellow Bird Magnolia (Magnolia x brooklynensis)

They are really tall and they can grow up to 40 feet tall. They also have a shape similar to a pyramid. Its flowers are yellow. They also have dark-green leaves that have an oval shape. 

Leonard Messel (Magnolia x loebneri)

These are small flowers that have deep pink petals. It sometimes has a white stroke inside the petal as well. They love dry soil and can easily grow up to 20 feet high. 

Wada’s Memory Magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia)

Similar to the Anise Magnolia, this type of tree is another hybrid. They prefer warm weather conditions. They tend to grow really fast and they have white petals with bright yellow centers.

Pinkie Magnolia

Another hybrid Magnolia, the petals are a combination of red and purple. Sometimes they have pink petals with white. It can grow up to fifteen feet high and because of its small size, it can perfectly adapt to small areas. 

Hot Flash Magnolia

A hybrid plant, they have yellow petals that are very similar to tulips. They can grow up to 30 feet in height, and can easily thrive in all types of soil. 

Copeland Court Magnolia (Magnolia sprengeri var. diva)

Sometimes referred to as Sprenger’s Magnolia, this flower has pink petals and dark-green leaves. It loves to have direct sun and well-drained soil. It doesn’t like humid weather.

Ann Magnolia

It can grow up to ten feet high, thus they are perfect for small areas. They have pink and purple petals and they prefer being exposed to the sun.

Yellow River Magnolia (Magnolia denudata)

As the name indicates, these Magnolias have yellow petals. They tend to grow slowly, and they can grow up to fifteen feet high. They are also very fragrant. 

Black Tulip Magnolia

One of the most striking Magnolias, it looks like a very special tulip. Its color is burgundy and can grow really fast. They can reach up to 20 feet high.

Galaxy Magnolia

It can grow up to 25 feet high, and it has deep purple petals. Sometimes its petals can have up to four different colors and shades. 

Centennial Magnolia

They are late bloomers and can grow up to 20 feet tall. They have white petals and love to be in the sun. 

Ivory Chalice Magnolia

Another hybrid Magnolia, it has a pyramid shape when it grows. It can easily reach up to 40 feet high, and it loves being exposed to the sun. 

Daybreak Magnolia

Even though it’s a small tree, it can still grow up to 40 feet high. It has light pink flowers and it doesn’t thrive on very cold winters. 

Diva Magnolia (Magnolia sprengeri var. diva)

It’s one of the largest Magnolia trees and it can reach up to 55 feet high. It has deep rose-pink petals and they require a lot of maintenance.

Star Wars Magnolia

It can grow up to fifteen feet tall and it was named after the famous movie. It has pink flowers that can be seen from a distance and glossy green leaves.

Differences between Magnolia Trees and Magnolia Shrubs

magnolia tree in spring

It is important to note that both the trees and the shrubs are Magnolias. However, the trees tend to produce many stems that can appear at their base, thus they have a fuller base, and, on the other hand, a shrub only has one or a couple of thinner branches. 

Growing Magnolias: Everything You Need To Know About It

Have you ever wondered how to plant Magnolias in your garden? This is your chance then, follow these steps and you will definitely succeed at it! 

Magnolias are not difficult to plant, however, you must pay attention to some basic guides. For example, you need to choose your site carefully because Magnolias tend to spread out. Also, most Magnolias prefer well-drained soil, filled with organic matter. If you have a prepared compost then do not hesitate to place it on top of it. 

In addition, look out for the difference between evergreen species and deciduous species, especially in terms of sun exposure. 

How to plant Magnolias?

You will first need to dig a hole that will be twice as wide as the roots of your Magnolia. Remember to water it in with abundant water so it doesn’t dry out. You can do this before placing your tree or shrub, however, do not overwater them, as they like to have their roots with a little moisture.

You can apply mulch or compost and now you can cover the root ball. You can irrigate two or three times a week, it will all depend on where you live.

Magnolia’s Maintenance

pink magnolia in a tree branch

Magnolias prefer acidic soil, so if yours is either neutral or alkaline, then you will have to amend it in order to help your plant grow. In addition to this, you will have to continue with the amends every now and then.

Don’t be scared by this though, Magnolias are easy to care and they are actually very resistant to different types of weather, diseases, and pests. 

Also, once you plant a Magnolia and you see it grow, you can expect it to have it for at least 100 years.

You can prune your Magnolias in the early summer, this will not only make them look good, but it will also help them blossom the following spring.

Magnolia’s Pests and Diseases 

Magnolias are very resistant to different diseases and pests. If you see that your Magnolia is not looking good, then the first thing you need to do is check the soil, and, if needed, try to amend it. 

pink magnolia flowers

Benefits and Uses of Magnolias

Medicinal uses

It’s amazing how many benefits are associated with Magnolias. From weight loss to constipation (5), to reducing anxiety (6), stress and depression, this type of flower has been used for centuries. 

You can use the flower buds if you have a runny nose, a cold, headache or even reduce the visibility of facial spots. 

Magnolia buds are also used when there is a toothache or bleeding gums, as it helps to reduce gingivitis. 

Also, Magnolia has some soothing and relaxing agents that could potentially help to reduce menstrual cramps, inflammation and muscle tension, so it is perfect when a person has menstrual problems. 

Timber

Did you know that Magnolia trees can also be used for making timber? In fact, the Magnolia Champaca is the most used timber from the Magnoliaceae family. It is very resistant and it also has a beautiful color (7).

Culinary Uses

There are at least 200 Magnolia species that have been discovered, but not all of them can be consumed. In fact, only a handful of them are safe to ingest. These are Magnolia soulangeana, Magnolia coco, Magnolia grandiflora, Magnolia pterocarpa, Magnolia denudata, Magnolia mexicana, Magnolia kobus, and Magnolia hypoleuca. 

You can make pickled Magnolia flowers, which is a very easy recipe to follow. 

You can also use Magnolias as a decorative item for your cakes or cupcakes, and not only will they look great, but they will also leave a nice fragrance in your deserts.

Other Uses

You can use Magnolia flowers as centerpieces, bouquets, or you can even make your own essential Magnolia oil and use it in your candles. Your house will smell lovely, that is guaranteed! 


Common Question About Magnolias

What are good companion plants with Magnolias?

magnolia with i love you

This depends on whether you have an evergreen variety or deciduous variety. For example, if you have evergreen variety then you need to plant something that will be okay with being underneath a deep shade. 

On the other hand, if you have a deciduous variety, then you need to plant something that will tolerate crispy leaves that will, eventually, fall from your tree. 

What is the most fragrant Magnolia?

One of the most powerful Magnolia fragrances comes from the Champaca type. In fact, this is the type that is often used to make essential oils and perfumes.

What is the lifespan of a Magnolia tree or shrub?

magnolia flower tree

Some trees can live up to 120 years, while some others can live up to 20 years. It will all depend on the climate, the maintenance, the soil, and, of course, the love and attention it receives (8).


Conclusion

More often than not people fall in love with Magnolia trees and shrubs. Not only because they are beautiful, but also because they are easy to take care of, they can last many years, they offer great shade, and their fragrance can be out of this world! 

Also, Magnolias are truly special, mainly because they are one of the oldest plants that have ever been recorded, and because of its uniqueness. 

Whether you live in a small area or a big farm, with Magnolias you have the opportunity to help them grow and reach your desired height. This is another reason why they are great trees to have, as they will not disturb your home, in fact, quite the opposite will occur, as they will give your place an added value.

To learn more about different types of flowers, visit our page https://florgeous.com/types-of-flowers/.

Up Next: Magnolia Flower Meaning and Symbolism of All Colors

References

Reference List:

(1) https://www.lakeforest.edu/academics/programs/environmental/courses/es203/magnolia-x-soulangeana-saucer-magnolia-magnoliaceae.php

(2) https://www.lakeforest.edu/academics/programs/environmental/courses/es203/magnolia-x-soulangeana-saucer-magnolia-magnoliaceae.php

(3) https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_magr4.pdf

(4) Sjöman, Henrik & Hirons, Andrew & Bassuk, Nina. (2018). Magnolias as urban trees – a preliminary evaluation of drought tolerance in seven magnolia species. Arboricultural Journal. 1-10. 10.1080/03071375.2017.1415554. – source

(5) Hanyan Luo, Hongwei Wu, Xiankuo Yu, Xiao Zhang, Yaqi Lu, Jianwei Fan, Liying Tang, Zhuju Wang, A review of the phytochemistry and pharmacological activities of Magnoliae officinalis cortex, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 236, 2019, Pages 412-442, ISSN 0378-8741, – source

(6) Poivre, M., & Duez, P. (2017). Biological activity and toxicity of the Chinese herb Magnolia officinalis Rehder & E. Wilson (Houpo) and its constituents. Journal of Zhejiang University. Science. B, 18(3), 194–214. https://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B1600299

(7) https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_magr4.pdf

(8) https://www.lakeforest.edu/academics/programs/environmental/courses/es203/magnolia-x-soulangeana-saucer-magnolia-magnoliaceae.php

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