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This plant may not thrive in your area
Sit in the shade of Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), and you'll enjoy the citrusy fragrance of its flowers as warm summer breezes gently move through your garden. You'll also appreciate the elegant touch this lovely tree adds to your landscape design. And as a triple bonus, it's a fabulous backyard wildlife habitat tree that beckons birds and butterflies! A Feast for the Senses and a Treat for Wildlife • White flowers.Creamy-white and lemon-scented, Sweetbay Magnolia's flowers are cup-shaped and large '– the waxy petals form blooms that grow up to 4 inches in diameter. Dark-green leaves with silvery undersides provide a stunning backdrop for the white flowers. A profusion of flowers appears in May and June, but this tree typically blooms sporadically throughout the summer '– don't be surprised if it's still lightly flowering in September! • Bird- and butterfly-friendly. Native plants attract native butterfly species, and this Southeastern native tree is a host plant that attracts several species of swallowtail butterflies. They lay their eggs on Sweetbay Magnolia's leaves, and the emerging caterpillars feast on the leaves. Don't worry, though; the foliage is so full that you won't even notice missing leaves. But what you will notice are all the swallowtail butterflies that break through their cocoons each year and fill your garden with beauty! And wait 'til you see the birds that gather in autumn '– they can't wait to eat the bright-red seeds, which mature in cones after the flowers fade. • Tolerates wet soil. If you have a low-lying area in your yard where the soil doesn't drain well after heavy rains, that's a perfect spot to plant Sweetbay Magnolia. Another of its common names is "swamp magnolia" because of its ability to tolerate wet soils. You don't have to grow it in a boggy area, though; after it's firmly established, it needs about the same amount of water as most other shrubs and trees. Easy Care Tips Sweetbay Magnolia is an undemanding tree. It grows to its maximum potential and flowers best when it receives full sun to partial shade. (Under optimal growing conditions, Sweetbay Magnolia can grow from 12 inches to 36 inches each year.) You may want to test your soil's pH, because Sweetbay Magnolia thrives in acidic soil, so it won't fare as well if your soil is highly alkaline. In the northernmost regions in its perennial range across USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 through 10, it tolerates full sun. In warmer regions, it'll appreciate some afternoon shade. Keep your tree well-watered after you plant it, until its root system takes hold and the tree is established. In southern climates, Sweetbay Magnolia is an evergreen, but in northern regions it's classified as semi-evergreen or deciduous. So if you're a northern gardener, don't despair if your tree loses some or all of its leaves during winter '– it'll come back beautifully in spring!