Magnolia virginiana - Sweet bay magnolia

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Butterfly FriendlyRain GardenPart ShadeBird Friendly
Sweet bay magnolia
Magnolia virginiana

The long, shiny, deep green foliage of this Magnolia provides the perfect backdrop for the big, lemony fragrant, white spring to summer bloom. Cone like brown fruit containing bright red seed replaces spent blooms and are sought out by native birds. Easy to grow and a stunning, wide growing specimen.


  • Wide growing, showy landscape specimen
  • The white flowers have a fresh, lemony fragrance
  • Fall fruit attracts a wide variety of native birds
  • Easy to grow with outstanding foliage
  • Larval host for the Sweetbay Silkmoth



Native Range


The fruit is eaten by gray squirrels, turkey and quail as well as a variety of songbirds including vireos, towhees, Northern flicker and blue jays.



Plant in moist, acidic soil, in full sun or part shade away from harsh winter winds. If necessary, prune during the growing season and not in the winter. Sweetbay doesn’t have any serious insect or disease problems. 


Mature Size: 10-35' Tall x 10-35' Wide

Hardiness Zone: 5-10

Sun Exposure: Full to Partial Sun

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    American Beauties Offer Solution Based Plant Collections to Help you Choose

    Quick Tips for Choosing Plants:

    • Planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, perennials and vines increases biodiversity and gives wildlife a source for food, cover and nesting
    • Choose a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees so birds and other wildlife will always be able to find shelter
    • Plant trees and large shrubs where they will block winter winds from the house and shade it in summer, that will save energy and lower your carbon footprint
    • Try your best to buy plants that were grown locally, your independent garden center will be your best bet
    • Think about ultimate height and width of the plant you choose, make sure it will fit the space you have for it when it's reached maturity
    • Plant nectar plants in groups, to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects more easily
    • Ask for help if you need it. Most garden centers either have a landscape designer on staff or they can give you a reference of a designer that is adept at native plant wildlife gardening. There will be upfront costs but they are small when compared to having to redo a landscape that wasn't what you really wanted

    Our Plant Tags Hold the Secrets to Success

    Choosing the right plants for your garden can seem like a daunting task but we’re here to help. Our horticulturists have spent a considerable amount of time researching and writing our beautiful, American Beauties plant tags to help you be successful. First of all, when you see an American Beauties branded pot at your garden center you can be confident that the plant is native to your area and a responsible choice. 

    When you look at our tag you’ll find information about the plants natural habitat. That will give you a clue to how it will work in your backyard. For instance if the plant is naturally founded and moist, shade and you have full sun, it’s not the plant for you. The “Features” section gives you an overview or plant description so you’ll know what to expect. While the “Benefits” section talks about the plants strong suits and how the plant will benefit wildlife. 

    A Special Note About Exposure

    Full sun: Prefers six or more hours of direct sunshine a day
    Partial shade: Thrives in three to six hours of daily sunshine
    Shade: Generally does well with less than three hours of sun per day. Having said that even shade loving plants will struggle in extremely deep shade.


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