Magnolia grandiflora: Southern Magnolia

Image A - Magnolia grandiflora leaf
Image A

Latin name: Magnolia grandiflora
Common name: Southern Magnolia
Flowers: White, 8-12” diameter6,15, Showy and fragrant12, bloom April- June or late spring10,12
Fruit or cones: 3-5” long cone that mature late summer to early fall12,13
Height & Width: 60-80’ tall with a width of 30-50’ 6,10,13,15,19
Type: Evergreen10,12,13
Habit: Pyramidal10,12
Wetland indicator category**: FAC, FACU17
Texture: Smooth, leathery evergreen leaves10,12
Growth rate: Slow to medium6,13
Light: Full sun or part shade6,10,12
Moisture: Prefers medium to moist soil and occasionally tolerates wet soil10,19. Intolerant of soil extremes12
Soil*: Rich, porous, acid soils pH 5.5- 6.5 and well drained10,19
Zones: 7-912,13
Origin: Southeastern United States12,16
Ecosystem benefits: Provides food and wildlife for birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds19

Features: Magnolias grow very large and full. They are covered in attractive dark green leaves and extremely fragrant, large white flowers12,13,15. The shiny leaves are glossy dark green with pale-green to gray-brown undersides which add beautiful color and texture to any landscape12.

Siting: Plants prefer to be in full sun or partly shaded areas with medium to moist soil10,12. Generally they are intolerant of extreme dry or wet soil, so moist well-drained soil is best13. Magnolias are great for hedges, border accents, and shade trees6,10. These trees do best if sited in a protected location away from direct wind as strong winds can damage its lustrous 4- inch leaves12.

Care: Plant so root flare is visible at soil surface14. At planting, water the root ball daily with two gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for two weeks, every other day for two months and then weekly until established. Modify water recommendations to reflect site drainage and rainfall. Apply 3” of mulch over the planted area. Do not allow mulch to touch the trunk14. Maintain moist soil and remove dead growth. Do not prune lower limbs and leaves as it can result in stress, cause suckers, and make the tree susceptible to disease6,10.

Pests: Plants are relatively pest resistant if cultural preferences are met6,12.

This plant does not appear on the following invasive plant lists on (3/3/2019):

Author: Andrew Crawford

Image B - Magnolia grandiflora blossom
Image B

Image source:




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  2. Armitage, A. (2006). Armitage’s native plants for North American gardens. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.
  3. Armitage, A. (2008). Herbaceous perennial plants: A treatise on their identification, culture, and garden attributes. Athens, GA: University of Georgia.
  4. Clemson Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center.(2011). Flowers fact sheets. Retrieved from
  5. Clemson Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center.(2011). Groundcovers & vines fact sheets. Retrieved from
  6. Clemson Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center. (2011). Trees. Retrieved from
  7. Clemson Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center.(2011). Shrubs. Retrieved from
  8. Dirr, M. A. (2009). Manual of woody landscape plants. Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing.
  9. Gilman, E. F. (1997). Trees for urban and suburban landscapes. Albany, NY: Delmar Publishers.
  10. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center University of Texas at Austin. (2012). Native plant information network. Retrieved from
  11. McMillan, P., Plant taxonomist Clemson University, personal communication.
  12. Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper Center for Home Gardening. Plant finder. Retrieved from
  13. North Carolina State University (2005). Plant fact sheets. Retrieved from
  14. Strother, E. V., Ham, D. L., Gilland, L. (2003) Urban tree species guide: Choosing the right tree for the right place.  Columbia, SC: South Carolina Forestry Commission.
  15. University of Florida, IFAS Extension. (2011). Southern trees fact sheet. Retrieved from
  16. USDA. Plant profile. (n/d).Retrieved from
  17. USDA. Plant wetland indicator status. (n/d). Retrieved from
  18. Vincent, E., Environmental horticulturist Clemson University, personal communication.
  19. Clemson Extension. Carolina Yards Plant Database. Retrieved from
  20. Add additional sources starting here

*Soil pH is determined using a professional soil test. Contact your Clemson University County Extension service for assistance Click on “local offices”.

**2012 Plant Wetland Indicator categories (quantitative derived)

Indicator Code Indicator Status Comment
OBL Obligate Wetland Almost always is a hydrophyte, rarely in uplands
FACW Facultative Wetland Usually is a hydrophyte but occasionally found in uplands
FAC Facultative Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte
FACU Facultative Upland Occasionally is a hydrophyte but usually occurs in uplands
UPL Obligate Upland Rarely is a hydrophyte, almost always in uplands