Sweet Bay Magnolia
Fragrant Ornamental Sweet Bay Magnolia
- Versatile, Adaptable and Easy Care
- Fragrant, Creamy White Flowers Smell Fresh and Clean
- Blooms Spring into Summer
- Glossy Green Leaves Flash Silver in the Sun
- Red Berries Feed Local Songbirds
- Works Beautifully in Wet Areas and Humid Summers
- Can Be Planted Near Houses
Looking for an elegant tree with airy, open style to use as a specimen in your landscape? Charming native Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) has an easy care nature. This beautiful tree is a wonderful choice for many modern landscape applications.
Like many native trees, you can guess that it has several nicknames. If you live further South, you’ll likely know it by Sweetbay Magnolia or Swamp Magnolia. If you have mild winters, Sweet Bay leaves will likely remain on the tree all year long. In colder climates, the leaves are deciduous and fall off for winter. Our horticulture team calls it a “semi-evergreen.”
Anyway you spell it or see it – you’ll definitely smell it! All parts of the Sweet Bay Magnolia are fragrant. The roots, branches and leaves smell sweet and spicy, a bit like vanilla.
The lovely creamy flowers layer in a hint of lemon. Sweet Bay Magnolia flowers perfume your entire yard for many weeks in spring and summer.
The compact Sweet Bay Magnolia is a fast-growing showpiece with enormous ornamental appeal. It features a long blooming period. You'll enjoy the lovely three-inch, pure-white flowers in May after all chance of frost, and sporadically throughout the early summer as well. They are infused with a fresh, citrusy scent that is never heavy or cloying.
Even the leaves are very attractive. Up to five inches long, symmetrical leaves are dark green on the top with a glossy surface. The underneath has a silvery, waxy, glaucous coating that truly shimmers in the sunlight. You will be forgiven for staring at the sophisticated effect as the slightest breeze catches them to flash that delightful underside of silvery-white.
Sweet Bay Magnolia Tree is a joy to watch no matter what the time of year. Even when the flowers have faded and the fruit is not yet obvious, you'll be surprised by the captivating sight a simple breeze drifting through its leaves creates.
The smooth bark of the Sweet Bay has a metallic gray overcast, which adds a tremendous amount of visual appeal. Showy, red seeded fruit slowly emerges from their green casing in fall, but you’ll need to look quick. Birds love the red seeds and they can be gone as fast as you spy them.
Butterflies love this tree, too. Don’t be surprised to see many more of them in your yard when you include one or more in your planting design.
The Sweet bay Magnolia is an ornamental tree with a lot to offer. It would make a lovely addition to your landscape. Order yours now!
How to Use Sweet Bay Magnolia in the Landscape
With a nice root system, it’s ok to use the Sweet Bay Magnolia near your house. Give it at least 15 feet of room, so you can easily access your exterior.
Site one near the corner of your house to be a beautiful anchor in your foundation planting. Or, if you have the space, use one on either side of your front entrance. Prune to shape them into a marvelous arched “allee” to give a grand entrance and instant curb appeal.
This is not a tree that will overpower your home’s architecture. Rather, it will become an effective accent.
Use several in a long lawn planting, or in a berm planting. Make life easier for yourself! Mulch underneath, and plant them 15 feet away from concrete. You won’t have to fuss with any fallen flowers that way, although it’s easy enough to mow them up.
We love the natural look created by using 3, 5 or 7 of them in a grouping. Use near your patio, picture window, front entrance – anywhere you’ll see it from indoors and smell it outside.
A fun way to use this wispy tree is to include it in a Child’s Garden of the Senses. It provides ample shade over a play structure and can be sited to the west to block the afternoon sun. What a wonderful memory to help your children create, playing under the fragrant Sweet Bay tree.
Because they tolerate periodic flooding, you can site them in a location that gets plenty of water. Create a Rain Garden to help filter captured rainwater. Or, plant them along a water feature, creek or pond. They’ll thrive in woodland settings, as well.
#ProPlantTips for Care
With no real pests or diseases, the Sweet Bay makes a great selection for mass planting as a tall shrub border. To achieve a solid screen, plant them 8 feet on center. You’ll measure from the center of one to the center of the next.
This is a superb native tree that is widely adapted. It will take wet soil, clay soil or dry soil. This is also a tree that can take being wet or long periods. Tolerant to many soil types, the Sweet Bay does well in heavy clay soils even when in the wettest conditions.
In its wild setting, it grows in coastal wetlands in acidic loamy soils. For the best performance, give it an acid fertilizer like Dr. Earth Acid Lover’s Organic and Natural Premium Fertilizer in spring and mid-summer to maintain low soil pH.
While it will grow in partial shade, please know that it flowers best in full sun.
Give it a regular schedule of supplemental water, if rainfall isn’t sufficient. This is especially important when the plants are young.
In the colder areas of Zones 5 and 6 – or in colder winters anywhere in the United States - the Sweet Bay can lose its leaves, grandly exposing the metallic trunk. Yes, you’ll even have winter appeal with the Sweet Bay Magnolia.
Prune as either a tree with a single central leader by removing all but one of the base stems. At the nursery, we often grow them with multiple trunks and that is a wonderful look, too. You can also allow all the base stems to grow to create a large shrub.
It grows into a natural column or vase-shape. Follow the natural line of the tree while pruning for best results. Prune after the spring bloom.
When planting, be sure to study all the angles of your young tree. Carefully select the side you want to become the “face” of your tree. That’s the side you’ll see most often. If you’ll have help planting the tree, get out there and make your decision with your team.
Disease and deer resistant, this marvelous, ancient tree is a fabulous choice. Order yours from Nature Hills today!
Buying Options for Plants
Nature Hills sells a large variety of plants with several options available. Plants are offered in both potted containers and as dormant bare root without soil. Here is a helpful resource to understand your options as you create a beautiful landscape with help from Nature Hills.
Ever wonder what a larger plant will mean for your landscape? Container Sizes are really all about the age of the plant!
Seasonally, Nature Hills offers hand selected, high quality bare root trees, shrubs and perennials. Bare root plants are sold by height from the top of the root system to the top of the plant. Plants may be taller than the height minimums.
- Popular sizes of select trees are 1 foot, 2 feet, 3 feet, etc.
- Popular sizes of select bare root plants is 1 foot, 18 inches, etc.
Nature Hills Container Size by Volume
|Young Plants to 18 Months|
|2"x2"x3"||Ranges from||.18 to .21 dry quarts / .198 to .23 dry liters in volume|
|4.5" Container||Equal to||.655 dry quart / .72 dry liter in volume|
|3.5" Container||Equal to||.67 dry quart / .74 dry liter in volume|
|4" Container||Equal to||.87 dry quart / .96 dry liter in volume|
|1 Quart||Equal to||1 dry quart / 1.1 dry liter in volume|
|5.5" Container||Equal to||1.89 of a dry quart / 2.08 dry liters in volume|
|4"x4"x5"||Ranges from||.8 to 1.1 dry quarts / .88 to 1.2 dry liters in volume|
|4"x4"x6"||Ranges from||1.0 to 1.3 dry quarts / 1.1 to 1.41 dry liters in volume|
|4"x4"x9"||Ranges from||1.1 to 2.1 dry quarts / 1.2 to 2.3 dry liters in volume|
|4"x4"x10"||Ranges from||1.7 to 2.3 dry quart / 1.87 to 2.53 dry liters in volume|
|Plants 18 Months - 2.5 Years Old|
|2 Quart||Equal to||2 dry quarts / 2.2 dry liters in volume|
|#1 Container||Ranges from||2.26 to 3.73 dry quarts / 2.49 to 4.11 dry liters in volume|
|5"x5"x12"||Equal to||3.5 to 4.3 dry quarts / 3.85 to 4.74 dry liters in volume|
|Plants 2 - 4 Years Old|
|#2 Container||Ranges from||1.19 to 1.76 dry gallons / 5.24 to 7.75 dry liters in volume|
|#3 Container||Ranges from||2.32 to 2.76 dry gallons / 10.22 to 12.16 dry liters in volume|
|Plants 3 - 5 Years Old|
|#5 Container||Ranges from||2.92 to 4.62 dry gallons / 12.86 to 20.35 dry liters in volume|
|#7 Container||Ranges from||5.98 to 6.08 dry gallons / 26.34 to 26.78 dry liters in volume|
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This proprietary eCommerce software prevents the shipment of a restricted plant to each state. The Plant Sentry system includes a shipment certification program. The Plant Sentry Compliance Officer works closely with NatureHills.com and each nursery or fulfillment center to ensure only compliant plants are sold to customers.
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|Botanical Name||Magnolia virginiana|
|Mature Height||15 - 25 feet|
|Mature Spread||10 - 30 feet|
|Soil Type||Widely Adaptable|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun, Partial Sun|
|Growth Rate||Fast, Medium|
|Foliage Color||Green and Silver|