The Q&A Archives: Bigleaf Magnolia

Question: I recently saw a "Bigleaf Magnolia" on T.V. I am searching for information on where they will grow and where to purchase one. I noticed in your Q&A section a Magnolia tree called "Elizabeth" Is this the same tree?

Answer: Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) is a good sized tree growing to thirty or forty feet with huge leaves (up to three feet long!) and big white flowers; it is also deciduous and makes a big mess in the fall. Since it is also only marginally hardy in zone 6, whether or not it would survive in your garden would depend on your microclimate. To be honest, this type of magnolia is not usually suggested for a residential planting. As a result it is very difficult to find.

The "Elizabeth" magnolia (M. acuminata x M. denudata 'Elizabeth') is a more appropriate tree for ornamental use. It can grow to twenty feet, keeps a tidy shape, and has lovely yellow blooms. It too can be difficult to locate, but here are two mail order sources: Louisiana Nursery, 5853 Hwy 182, Opelousas LA 70570;
tel. (318) 948-3696, or try Sweetbay Farm, 4260 Enon Rd., Coolidge GA 31738; (912) 225-1688.

There are many types of magnolias, so you may want to look at a few more before you make your decision. Klehm's Nursery for example offers several (pictures and descriptions at their web site 4210 North Duncan Road, Champaign, IL 61821; tel. (800) 553-3715 and so does Carroll Gardens, 444 East Main Street, Westminster MD 21157 tel. (800) 638-6334.

After doing a little research, you may find that your local nurseries carry some very attractive magnolias also. Good luck with your magnolia!

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