Sweetbay Magnolia

Also known by its’ botanical name, Magnolia virginiana, the Sweetbay Magnolia is a wonderful addition to the landscape in usda hardiness zones 5-9. Creamy, lemon scented flowers appear in late June and are one of the most spectacular features of the Sweetbay Magnolia. In late summer, the beautiful flowers are replaced by scarlet red fruit, which attracts birds. Perfect for birdwatchers! Another highlight of the Sweetbay is the dark green, glossy leaves with silvery undersides. The Sweetbay Magnolia is considered semi-evergreen, often keeping some leaves in the winter. Because it isn’t a large growing tree, it is a perfect accent or patio tree. The height of a Sweetbay Magnolia is 10-20 feet with an equal width. So many lovely features make the Sweetbay Magnolia a welcome addition in the landscape.

While many Magnolia varieties can flourish in the Illinois landscape, it is important to follow certain rules when planting them. Choose a location in full to part sun that is protected from strong winds and preferably on the east or north side of the home.  Doing this gives the Sweetbay Magnolia some winter protection and prevents early flowering. Early flowers are vulnerable to spring frosts, which are very common in Illinois. Soil should be kept moist and preferably acidic. The Sweetbay Magnolia tolerates lower lying or wet areas in the landscape, as it is often found  in its’ natural habitat. Mulch the Sweetbay Magnolia annually with organic material, such as wood chips or leaf mulch. As the tree matures, pruning may be required to maintain the shape of the Sweetbay Magnolia. Prune only after the Sweetbay flowers. This prevents the flowers from being removed prematurely, which are a beautiful feature of the tree.  Follow these guidelines to enjoy happy and healthy Magnolias in the home landscape and in the Chicago area.

Questions about your trees? Please contact KTS to discuss your concerns and comments.

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