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Nothing conjures up images of the South more than Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). Its glossy evergreen leaves are a great addition to the landscape at any time of the year. The large, fragrant blossoms boldly suggest “southern belle” to many.
Now, we have a love-hate relationship with these trees. There seems to be to camps: people either love them or hate them. The thick foliage tends to drop year-round and it doesn’t decompose readily, so they can be messy, especially in a manicured lawn or landscape. Although the seeds are good wildlife food, they are dispersed by wildlife and magnolia seedlings tend to come up throughout the landscape and woodland, becoming somewhat invasive.
There is much variation within the species. Named varieties give you the opportunity to choose characteristics that you prefer. For instance, ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ is a fairly compact plants with beautiful brown, velvety undersurface of the leaves. ‘Little Gem’ is a small, compact tree with smaller leaves and flowers but produces blooms when the plant is fairly young. There are a number of other varieties from which to choose.
Whatever your thoughts are on Southern Magnolias, they do announce that summertime is here!