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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native magnolias in MD

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Wednesday - March 16, 2011

From: Chevy Chase, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Native magnolias in MD
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We live in Chevy Chase MD. Three tulip magnolias planted three years ago as part of a hedge died during the blizzard conditions we experienced the winter following their planting. This year as well we have had record snow and cold weather. Our landscape architect is suggesting we replace the tulips with magnolia virginiana. I want to know if these shrubs are winter hardy enough to survive in our climate. Thank you in advance.

ANSWER:

The trouble with common names is that they can refer to more than one plant, so I am not sure whether your "tulip magnolia" is our native Liriodendron tulipifera (Tuliptree) or Magnolia liliiflora which is a native of Aisa.  Either one should have been hardy enough to survive in your cllimate.

That being said Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay), is a great choice for a replacement and we agree heartily with your landscape architect. If you are replacing the Asian magnolia, you will have a trouble free tree that is native to your ecosytem.  If it is the larger "tulip popar", you will have a smaller, multistemmed tree whose form is more suited to a hedgerow and whose beautiful, delicately fragrant blooms and ornamental fruit are close enough to the ground to be appreciated.

If you check the USDA Range Map for Sweetbay magnolia you will see that it has quite a broad range and it is hardy in Zones 5-8.  Depending on the winter and the cultivar you select, it will be deciduous to semi-evergreen.

Go for it!


Magnolia virginiana


Magnolia virginiana


Magnolia virginiana

 

 

 

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