One of our most elegant and showy ornamental trees is the magnolia tree. Magnolias may be deciduous or evergreen. The evergreen magnolias provide cheery greenery in the drab doldrums of winter and are therefore valued for their leathery foliage. There are several magnolia evergreen varieties from which to choose. First, you need to decide on the size and attributes that best suit your garden.
Evergreen Magnolia Trees
There are about 125 species of magnolia which may be evergreen, deciduous, or even semi-evergreen. The lustrous green leaves are a standout feature with light green, silver, or reddish fuzzy undersides. Evergreen magnolias afford the pleasure of enjoying a leafy tree year-round. Not all species are suited for all zones, but most magnolias are fairly adaptable and will thrive in warm to temperate regions. Few things are more saddening than watching the leaves fall from the trees. While the display may be colorful, it signals the end of the warm season and the rise of the cold stormy winter. This is why trees that hold their leaves are so important, to remind us of a time that will come again, a season of bold promise and plenty. Evergreen magnolia trees uphold this promise and add dimension and life to the landscape.
- Magnolia grandiflora is one of the most commonly grown of the group. It has numerous cultivars with different characteristics.
- While M. grandiflora can get up to 60 feet (18 m.) in height, ‘Little Gem’ will grow just over 30 feet (9 m.) tall, making it perfect for the smaller landscape.
- Smaller still is ‘Kay Perris,’ which is only 19 to 30 feet (6-9 m.) tall with glorious leaves tinged orange on the underside.
- Almost as cuddly as its name, ‘Teddy Bear’ is a relatively new cultivar with a compact shape, glossy cup-shaped leaves, and downy fuzz on the reverse.
Magnolia Evergreen Trees for Any Landscape
- The Fairy magnolias are all evergreen and offer pink, white, or cream scented flowers, often throughout the year. Magnolia x alba is from Southeast Asia and purported to bring good luck. The plant produces some of the most fragrant blooms in the genus.
- Yellow-purple flowers in every season but winter signal the presence of Magnolia figo. It has glossy green leaves and a slow growth rate.
- Its cousin, Magnolia ‘White Caviar,’ has tulip-shaped blooms in creamy white. The leaves are evergreen and pleasantly rounded.
- For winter-blooming, try Magnolia doltsopa. Large scented white flowers grace the tree throughout the cooler season. The plant is truly one of the most valuable magnolia evergreen trees for winter interest.
Compact Magnolia Evergreen Varieties
We’re not done yet. The smaller forms also have evergreen foliage and intense blooms.
- ‘Bubbles’ is a cultivar with pointed glossy green leaves and white flowers with blushed margins. It forms a very compact pyramid-shaped tree.
- Magnolia laevifolia, or ‘Scented Pearl,’ not only has a fantastic name but a tolerant nature and long spring bloom period. Blooms are creamy ivory, lightly scented, and prolific. The plant is pest and disease resistant in most cases and produces a compact attractive form.
There are new cultivars coming out every few years with bigger blooms, more beautiful foliage, and greater hardiness. Do your homework and make sure the tree you choose is right for your zone and landscape size. Enjoy your majestic magnolia!
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.
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