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Magnolia: Plant This or That

Magnolias are, indeed, magnificent. Fragrant blooms are literally frisbee size on some. On others, beautiful yellow or magenta flowers unfurl on bare branches in early Spring.  With hundreds of magnolias, there are so many possibilities. The Missouri Botanical Garden provides a great overview.

One of the most interesting magnolia possibilities is the magnolia native to the mid-Atlantic, often called sweetbay (Magnolia Virginiana).  Sweetbay is a fantastic addition to the garden and one that will have friends asking “what is that?”  Sweetbay blooms in late spring and early summer. Blooms are smaller than grandiflora magnolias and have a lemony fragrance. The leaves are semi-evergreen. For 6 years, our sweetbay magnolia has held its leaves through winter. The silvery, sometimes shimmering, leaves add texture and color.  

The seed pods are also gorgeous.

Adding a magnolia? Please consider our own native. It’s a subtle stunner!

For more information:

A local fact sheet from Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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