sweetbay magnolia magnolia virginiana
In the Garden

Must-Have Plant of the Month: Sweetbay Magnolia

plant of the month


Spring is just around the corner and we are soooooo looking forward to seeing everything start to bloom! We are dreaming of fragrant warm breezes and seeing all the colors of nature pop up and out. When we think of fragrant spring and summer breezes, the magnolia tree definitely comes to mind. There are dozens of types of magnolia trees, all quite beautiful. They are ancient and said to have been around before bees. Therefore the flowers evolved tough enough to be pollinated by beetles. One of our favorite magnolia trees is the late spring-blooming sweetbay magnolia.

sweetbay magnolia magnolia virginiana

The sweetbay magnolia, magnolia virginiana, is a flowering tree native to the Atlantic seaboard of the United States from Florida to New York. Here in Delaware (zone 7) it is a semi-evergreen tree. North of here to zone 5 it is deciduous, and south of us it is evergreen. How tall it gets also depends on the climate of its location. In its southern range it can get 60 feet tall or more! It grows relatively fast and can grow in wet or even swampy soil with full sun to partial shade.

Sweetbay magnolia, also known as laurel magnolia, swampbay, or beaver tree, has shiny dark green elongated leaves with silver undersides. But it is known for its white flowers which bloom May to June. The flowers have a lemony vanilla scent that is quite fragrant. Birds and squirrels enjoy the sweetbay’s seeds from the dark red fruit in late summer.

The sweetbay magnolia is a great addition to your ornamental garden or as a statement in your yard. Customers are always looking for magnolias once they start to bloom. Plant one this month to enjoy the spring scents for years to come. Find one at your local nursery or order one online here (affiliate link).

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