Magnolia Flowers – The Complete Guide

Magnolia flowers look stunning on the tree and they’re great for attracting birds and beneficial insects to your garden.

In this complete guide to magnolia flowers you’ll learn about the many different types of magnolia blossoms, what to do if your magnolia tree or shrub isn’t blooming and I’ll answer some common questions about magnolia flowers.

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magnolia flowers

Magnolia trees and shrubs produce spectacular fragrant flowers that can be white, pink, purple or yellow.

The flowers can be cup shaped, saucer shaped or star shaped and range in size from 2 inches (5 cm) to 12 inches (30 cm) wide.

Here are some common questions about magnolia flowers:

When do magnolias bloom?

Some magnolia varieties begin blooming in late winter and flower throughout spring, while evergreen magnolias like the southern magnolia bloom in late spring until summer.

Some magnolias can even bloom twice in the one year.

How long do magnolia flowers last on the tree?

Magnolia flowers usually last for about two weeks on the tree before falling off.

There will also be a few early and late blooms outside the main flowering period.

Be sure to give your magnolia plenty of water while it’s blooming to prevent the flowers dropping off early.

pink magnolia flowers

Can magnolia flowers withstand frost?

Magnolia flowers aren’t frost tolerant so if there’s an unexpected frost while the buds are on the tree you may not get any flowers.

Late season frosts can also cut the blooming season short.

Do I need to deadhead magnolias?

Removing the spent flowers isn’t necessary because magnolia flowers fall off by themselves, creating a beautiful carpet effect underneath the tree.

I think the flower petals look nice underneath magnolia trees but it’s best to rake them up or run over them with the lawn mower every week or so to keep the area tidy and free of pests.

Are magnolia blossoms edible?

Yes, there are many varieties of magnolia with flowers that are safe to eat including Magnolia grandiflora, Magnolia soulangeana and Magnolia mexicana.

The flower petals taste similar to ginger and cardamom and they can be added to salads or used as a garnish.

White magnolia flowers have the most subtle taste, while dark pink flowers have the strongest flavor.[1]

white magnolia flower

Do potted magnolias bloom?

Small magnolia varieties such as Magnolia stellata will grow and flower well in containers.

Choose a large container with a wide base to prevent it from blowing over in strong winds and ensure that there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

Use a good quality potting mix and fertilize when the buds begin to appear.

Why isn’t my magnolia blooming?

There are a few reasons why magnolias fail to bloom including:

Temperature – If the weather is too cold the flower buds may not open.

Late season frosts can also damage the flower buds before they get a chance to open.

Lack of sunlight – Magnolias can tolerate partial shade but they flower best in a spot where they receive full sun.

Poor soil – If you suspect that your magnolia isn’t flowering because of poor soil quality you can take steps to improve the soil by digging compost or well broken down manure into the soil.

magnolia blossom

Types of magnolia flowers

Here are 10 popular varieties of magnolias and a description of their flowers:

Saucer Magnolia / Chinese Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)

One of the most popular varieties of magnolia, the saucer magnolia grows up to 20 feet (6 metres) tall and produces an abundance of pink tulip shaped flowers on bare branches before the leaves appear.

Southern Magnolia / Bull Bay Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) 

Large evergreen magnolia that can grow up to 20 metres (65 feet) tall.

It blooms in late spring and summer with large white flowers that can be up to 8 inches (20 cm) wide. 

Dwarf Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’)

‘Little Gem’ Magnolia is an evergreen variety that can grow to about 4 metres (13 feet) tall. 

It blooms during spring and summer and has white or cream colored flowers.

Lily Magnolia (Magnolia lilliflora)

Lily magnolias can grow 8 to 12 feet (2.4 to 3.6 metres) tall and wide.

They have long upright purple flowers that are about 4 inches long and look similar to lilies.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

Star magnolias are deciduous, early flowering magnolias that grow up to 20 feet (6 metres) tall.

The white star shaped flowers appear in early spring and grow 3 to 5 inches (7 to 12 cm) wide.

Loebner Magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri)

Loebner magnolia is a deciduous, small magnolia variety that grows up to 15 feet (4.5 metres) tall.

The white flowers of the loebner magnolia are similar to star magnolia flowers.

Oyama Magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii)

Oyama is a compact, deciduous variety that produces fragrant white cup shaped flowers in late spring.

Elizabeth Magnolia (Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’) 

Elizabeth magnolia is another deciduous magnolia variety that produces an abundance of cup shaped yellow flowers.

Champaca Magnolia (Magnolia champaca)

A large evergreen variety with yellow or orange flowers that are highly fragrant.

Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata)

Yulan is a small deciduous tree that can grow to 16 feet (5 metres) tall. 

It produces white flowers in spring on the bare branches.

white magnolia blooms

Using magnolia flowers in cut flower arrangements

The best time to cut magnolia flowers is early in the morning while it’s cool.

Cut the stems with sharp scissors or pruning shears and place them in the shade until you finish cutting.

Gently remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem and dip the ends of the stems (about 2 inches or 5 cm)  into boiling water for about 10 seconds to seal the stems. 

This will prevent the sap leaking out into the water.

Arrange the flowers in the vase and place it in a cool spot away from direct sunlight. 

Magnolia flowers are very delicate and wilt easily but by following these steps the flowers should last for about a week in the vase.

flowering magnolia tree

So there is my guide to growing and caring for magnolia flowers. 


Have you tried growing magnolias in your garden? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Flowering Plants and Garden Ideas that you may enjoy. You can also find me on Facebook.

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

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