2018 Southern Magnolia
Southern magnolia is a medium-sized, evergreen understory tree native to the southern coastal plain from the Gulf Coast across the top of Florida and up into South Carolina. Though not native to southeastern Pennsylvania, there are several hardy selections that make it possible for us to enjoy this beautiful tree in our own landscape. Listed in order of size, from largest to smallest, some of these selections include ‘Edith Bogue’, ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’, ‘Kay Parris’, and ‘Teddy Bear’.
The ornamental qualities of southern magnolia are unlike any other. It has large, thick, dark green leaves with a glossy shine on top and a layer of fuzzy brown hairs below. Its classic, huge white flowers can be 12” or more in diameter and perfume the springtime air with an intoxicating, lemon soap-like fragrance. By fall, the flowers have given way to large, cone-like fruits, containing orange-red berries that dangle on thin filaments and attract songbirds.
Southern Magnolia will grow in full sun to full shade, but will perform best in part sun with moist, rich, well-draining soils. In our climate, it is best to plant in a location where it can be protected from harsh winter winds. Like all magnolias, there are no major pests and it is highly deer resistant, though bucks may rub their antlers on the smooth trunks.