Beloved for its dinner-plate size blossoms with the fragrance of lemons, the Southern Magnolia is considered to be the “Grand Dame” of Southern landscaping. This Southern native does well from Zones 6B to 9 with cultivars like Edith Bogue and Bracken’s Brown Beauty reportedly doing well into 5B thus pushing this perennial favorite into the Northeast and extreme Southern New England.
Home and Garden Landscapes recommends using this tree in your landscape if you have the room. Luckily, newer cultivars like Brackens Brown Beauty and Claudia Wannamaker do not have the wide spread of the original trees you see taking up massive amounts of space in the Deep South. Some cultivars like Lil Gem bloom from May till November and some cultivars like D.B. Blanchard have a beautiful coloration and texture to the underside of the leaves that some people liken to suede.
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Bracken’s Brown Beauty Southern Magnolia is one of the most popular cultivars of Magnolias in use today. With its tight growth habit and suitability for smaller landscapes, its easy to see why this cultivar is so extensively used. It is also thought to have a better degree of cold tolerance allowing it to be used well into Zone 5.
Claudia Wannamaker Southern Magnolia is one of our favorites. With its upright growth habit, bright green foliage and beautiful blooms, Claudia Magnolia is hard to beat. It’s also suited to today’s smaller landscapes.
D.B. Blanchard Southern Magnolia is one of the most beautiful cultivars of Southern Magnolia in cultivation. It’s attributes include shiny green foliage with brown undersides which resemble dark brown velour and large dinner plate size blooms which smell like lemons.
D.B. Blanchard is more finicky in being transplanted which can often result in excessive leaf drop. Interestingly enough, moving it in the heat of the Summer lessens this situation. We do not recommend moving this plant in the fall and/or winter.
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Edith Bogue Southern Magnolia is prized due to its hefty growth habit and its beautiful, robust and fragrant blossoms. Some feedback with plantings further north into Zones 6 and 5b indicate this Southern Magnolia cultivar has a greater cold tolerance. This is a great cultivar if you can find it in cultivation.
Heirloom Southern Magnolia is the original base cultivar of Southern Magnolia. This is the Magnolia you frequently see on old Southern home places which frequently takes up the whole property!!! Roughly translated this is not a cultivar for smaller properties. This cultivar must also be moved in hotter weather and can initially experience excessive leaf drop.
A cultivar discovered in Eastern North Carolina, Lil Gem has skyrocketed to popularity in areas all over the world where it can thrive. Lil Gem’s biggest attribute is it will bloom non-stop from Spring until heavy frosts in the fall whereas other cultivars bloom traditionally in the May and June time frame and then stop.
Moving them can often result in excessive leaf drop but moving them in Summer will mitigate that problem.
Teddy Bear Southern Magnolia is a newer cultivar and has tight and full leaf and branching structures. Being relatively new, it is somewhat hard to find but availability is improving.