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Sweetbay Magnolia | Plant Profile

Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) are deciduous trees or shrubs that are native to the American east coast. They can be grown as trees with a single trunk or as multi-stemmed shrubs. Fragrant white flowers with a lemon scent bloom in mid spring and can continue to pop up throughout summer. The shiny leaves are dark green on the tops, but silvery underneath. Sweetbay Magnolia are fruit producing trees. The fruits are showy and cone-shaped with red seeds.

Sweetbay Magnolia prefers acidic, fertile, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. These trees or shrubs perform well in wet or clay soils, unlike other Magnolias. Consider protecting in winter as they can be damaged by the cold.

Sweetbay Magnolia are gorgeous additions to pond or riversides. Their tolerance of wet soils make them a great option for low spots or near natural springs to absorb excess water.  They can be used as shrub borders to divide yards or park edges.


Sweetbay Magnolia Characteristics

Sweetbay Magnolia are highly variable additions to any landscape. They can be grown as trees that reach up to 60' tall in warm climates or as multi-stemmed shrubs that reach only to 20'. The fragrant lemony flowers are abundant in spring, but often bloom sporadically throughout summer.  The showy fruit is not edible to humans but can attract birds and other wildlife.

There are few serious disease or pest problems, but chlorosis can occur in alkaline soils. Sweetbay Magnolia may need protection from the harsh Pennsylvania winters as they are not particularly winter hardy.

USDA Climate Zone
Zones 5 - 10
10.00 - 35.00
10.00 - 35.00'
Bloom Time
May - June
Medium - Wet
Full Sun - Part Shade
Deer Resistant?