Do magnolias make you think of the south, with its warm air and blue skies? You’ll find that these gracious trees with their elegant flowers are hardier than you think. Some cultivars even qualify as zone 4 magnolias. Read on for information about cold hardy magnolia trees.
Hardy Magnolia Trees
Lots of gardeners think of the spreading magnolia as a tender plant that only thrives under southern skies. The truth is very different. Cold hardy magnolia trees exist and thrive even in zone 4 backyards.
U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 4 includes some of the coldest regions of the nation. Yet, you’ll find a number of magnolia trees in zone 4 gardens. The key to growing magnolia trees in zone 4 is to pick cold hardy magnolia trees.
Magnolias for Zone 4
When you go shopping for magnolias for zone 4, it’s critical to select cultivars labeled as zone 4 magnolias. Here are a few to consider:
You can’t beat the star magnolia (Magnolia kobus var. stellata) for chilly areas. It’s one of the best zone 4 magnolias, readily available in nurseries in the northern states. This cultivar stays gorgeous all season, budding in spring then showing off its star-shaped, fragrant flowers all summer. Star magnolia is one of the smaller magnolias for zone 4. The trees grow to 10 feet (3 m.) in both directions. The leaves put on a yellow or rust-colored show in autumn.
Two other great magnolias for zone 4 are cultivars ‘Leonard Messel’ and ‘Merrill.’ Both of these are cold hardy crosses of the magnolia kobus that grows as a tree and its shrub variety, stellata. These two zone 4 magnolias are both larger than star, getting 15 feet (5 m.) tall or more. ‘Leonard Messel’ grows pink flowers with white inner petals, while ‘Merrill’ flowers are huge and white.
Another of the best magnolia trees in zone 4 is saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. This is one of the big trees, growing to 30 feet (9 m.) tall with a 25 foot (8 m.) spread. The flowers of the saucer magnolia present in saucer shapes. They are a striking pink-purpose on the outside and a pure white within.