Sweetbay Magnolia-The sweet smell of nature

Magnolia virginiana {Sweetbay Magnolia}

A fully opened bloom on the Magnolia Virginiana

A fully opened bloom on the Sweetbay Magnolia

It starts about the middle of May and ends sometime in late June (and sometimes even a random bloom in early July). Working in my back yard or even sitting on my deck under the gazebo, the sweet smell of the this native beauty fills the air. It is so intoxicating I cannot help but to be happy working in my back yard.

Fast growing and low maintenance makes this a perfect addition to your yard. The bloom times can change in the north but you will have about a month of non stop fragrance filling the air!

The Sweetbay (Magnolia Virginiana) is over 12' tall now and has tripled in size since putting in 4 years ago.

The Sweetbay (Magnolia Virginiana) is over 12′ tall now and has tripled in size since putting in 4 years ago.

I think it was about 4 years ago when I bought my 2 Sweetbay Magnolias on clearance at Lowe’s for less than $10 a piece. It was the end of June and most of the trees and shrubs that were left were wilting and browning from the heat and lack of water. I have to add that I not only bought the Sweetbays but I also bought a Jane Magnolia and another which I now believe to be a Saucer Magnolia. All of these Magnolias were in #3 pots and the Sweetbay Magnolias were about 4′ tall and very spindly.

It is now the 3rd spring and one of the Sweetbays is over 12′. I planted it in part shade under the canopies of mighty Oaks where it may receive a few hours of sporadic sunlight. It is the perfect spot because it has tripled in size. and rewards me with its heaven scent starting in May through the end of June. The 2nd Magnolia had to be moved when I realized that it liked more shade than sun (here in zone 7) where I had originally planted it so now it starting to grow and fill out with a couple blooms here and there.

A bud/bloom forming

A bud/bloom forming

Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana) are native to zones 5-9 and will grow 10-20 feet tall and wide in the lower zones but here in the South they can reach up to 40 feet! They are semi evergreen here in the south losing a few leaves in the dead of winter. Sweetbay magnolias love moist  to wet soil and full sun up north and here in the south they will grow in partial shade. It is not picky on soil and since it is a native you should not ever amend the soil nor do you have to prune or fertilize it. It is a great addition if you want to go native and especially if you have a problem area such as a swampy or bad drainage area in your yard. This beauty will love it and reward you with its fragrance.

Planting native trees and plants in your yard is a great way to attract the bees, butterflies, and birds to visit. Going native does not mean you have to go all native-you can add native perennials, shrubs and trees alongside your other plants and be rewarded with beauty and blooms throughout the growing season.

Finding native plants can be as easy as watching for them to arrive at your local garden center or big box store. If you arm yourself with the names of native plants such as Black eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and even Oakleaf hydrangea (hydrangea quercifolia) then you can shop with confidence that you are picking plants that will be low maintenance and easy to grow in your area. To find out what natives are for your zone you can buy a book and have it for a reference, Google/Bing native plants + your zone,  or visit your extension office or visit a botanical garden. The one thing I suggest you do is carry your list with you when you visit the garden centers so you do not have to rely on the seasonal employees to give you incorrect advice about the plants. You can also order online and check out your specialty nurseries in the area.

Happy gardening and do not forget to stop and “smell the roses”!

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2014/2015 copyrighted C Renee Fuller

4 thoughts on “Sweetbay Magnolia-The sweet smell of nature

  1. Hi, So glad to find your site! I adore your type of gardening, which I call natural, bohemian gardening! I am like you and hate lines, and lines, and perfect little rows. We have been in our home for a while. My hubby works on a boat and is gone a lot. Recently my sons moved out (they still visit, thank God!) and I am temporarily not working. So, I have a lot of time. My question is this; Is it too late for me to put things in the ground? There are sooo many things I want to do in my yard!! I recently recovered from a chronis sickness, and still have bad days, so I tried to get out there in the spring. But did not get much done. Plus money is an issue!! I am doing a lot better, and wqant to have flowers, and grass, and ground covers, etc., etc. I live in zone 8, and have clay soil. Plus I have a slope in most of the yard, and so drainage is too much in some areas, and not enough in others (the water sits there). I f you could answer my question, and any other advice, I would be so thank-full! Your yard, and flowers are beautiful. About all I have in the ground now are iris’ of all colors. Thanks again! Happy Gardening, Joni

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