Southern Magnolia Tree Facts in Deep South Landscapes
Blooming magnolia from bud stage to wide open
A great many tall and stately magnolia trees dot the lawns in southern landscapes and where we live in Houston, Texas is no exception.
Judging from the numerous magnolia trees planted in our neighbor's yards, the local nurseries selling those trees must do very well especially in the Spring of the year when the southern magnolia puts on its raiment of those creamy to white large and showy blossoms.
Just taking a walk around our subdivision, the air is sweetly perfumed with the extremely fragrant magnolia blossoms combined with other plants like jasmine which also exudes its fragrance around the same time of year. Quite the natural air freshener!
I captured many of these beautiful flower photos as well as some magnolia tree photos with my handy digital camera this last Spring while my husband and I were taking one of our morning walks.
When people think of the Deep South, generally the U.S. States lumped into that category consist of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
For certain, the Southern Magnolia trees grow well there, but they also grow from South Carolina all the way following the Atlantic coastline south to Florida and extend west beyond Louisiana to Oklahoma and the eastern parts of Texas where we have wonderful specimens growing in our Houston subdivision.
Southern Magnolia tree in our subdivision
These tall pyramidal shaped trees are also known as the Magnolia grandiflora and come from the family Magnoliaceae.
They can commonly grow to heights of sixty to eighty feet and about half as wide so definitely need enough space in which to spread out and flourish.
They like moisture as well as well drained soil but can withstand drought conditions better than some other types of trees.
This is good as Texas is withstanding some dire drought conditions this year and while other types of trees are showing great distress and even dying, I have yet to notice any magnolia trees doing this...at least so far.
The Southern Magnolia is an evergreen variety of tree. It does best growing in full sun.
It commonly blooms each Spring and its blossoms can adorn the trees for up to a month or longer from beginning to end of this flowering season.
Southern Magnolia blossom bub
Southern Magnolia tree trimmed up from the ground.
Shows the progression from flowering magnolia blossoms to seeds
The size of the blossoms coming from the Southern magnolia are huge! They can be up to one foot or more (12 to 14 inches) in diameter when fully opened. It would be hard to ignore a flower of this dimension!
The buds are sizable also as one might imagine.
Even after fully opened these waxy petaled blossoms continue to enthrall the onlooker as the creamy color changes to a sepia tone eventually losing its grasp on the tree and falling to the ground joining the large leathery leaves which are continually shed on a year round basis.
If one chooses to have a Southern Magnolia tree in one's landscape, this must be taken into consideration. Picking up the thick leaves of which each one can be up to a foot long is a regular chore to keep a garden looking tidy and well maintained.
As one might be able to tell from the photos of the trees, the shade provided by the tree is also dense, so often grass does not grow as well under these trees unless they are trimmed up from the ground so as to let more sunlight in around the base of their single stemmed trunks.
In the photo to the right, these homeowners have purposely pruned their magnolia tree up from the ground to better fit the landscape and allow more light to hit the grassy areas.
After the blossoming time is over, brown cones are left with the bright red seeds of the Southern Magnolia which birds love to eat as well as becoming nourishment for squirrels and opossums which savor this tasty treat.
One can propagate these trees from seeds successfully if one has the patience to see them grow from seedling stage to that of blossoming which would be many years in between.
Southern magnolia blossom
Do you have a Southern Magnolia tree growing in your garden/yard?See results without voting
From Southeastern Asia to America's Deep South and beyond, there are hundreds of species from the genus known as magnolia.
While the non-hybridized ones do best in warmer climates such as zones 7 to 9 in the United States, some cold hardy cultivars can now be seen in areas further north...even to zone 5 such as up in parts of Ohio.
Magnolias have been developed as to many variations in size and also now come in a variety of colored blossoms. Some of these trees are deciduous, meaning that they lose their leaves in the winter.
So if one wishes to have one of these beauties in one's landscape, one now has more choices than ever from which to choose.
Some interesting facts about Magnolias...
- These trees are pollinated by beetles, not bees!
- The Southern Magnolia is the State Tree of Mississippi
- The Southern Magnolia is the State Flower of Mississippi and of Louisiana
Our yard and garden has more than its fair share of trees and plants, so for now I will simply continue to admire the southern magnolia trees in our neighbors yards...especially every Spring when the strong fragrance of their milky white blossoms scent the air.
Inside of a magnolia blossom
Slide show showing different types of Magnolias set to music
Magnolia blossomsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Decorating with Magnolias
Not only can the beautiful blossoms be floated in a dish of water and used as a centerpiece, but in the South often times I have seen the dried leaves of magnolia trees spray painted and woven into Christmas wreaths or garlands. They also provide wonderful materials for centerpieces in their natural state as the tops of the leaves are a deep green and the underside is a cinnamon shade of brown.
The cones containing the seeds are also an interesting component which can be utilized in arrangements. So if you have a magnolia tree or know a neighbor with one, think of using some of this natural material the next time you wish to decorate your home for a party or a special occasion.
Many artists through the years have used magnolia blossoms as subject matter. My mother-in-law used to have a picture of one proudly displayed in her living room as well as a ceramic magnolia blossom which she used in various places in her home at different times.
Hope you enjoyed this look at the magnificent Southern Magnolias and perhaps learned something that you did not already know. Thinking of the Deep South without magnolia trees gracing the landscape...it just wouldn't seem right!
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© 2011 Peggy Woods
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