Magnolia Grandiflora hardy cultivars

nikkie_in_torontoJuly 22, 2008

My parents live in the Cleveland, Ohio area and love Mangolia grandiflora. They have a beautiful 20-25ft Edith Bogue magnolia. In the past 10 years it has had leaf burn only one winter. They have also had good luck with Brackens Brown Beauty. I bought them a nice 10-12 foot Brackens this summer that actually survived the past winter in a pot buried in the ground in Cleveland. I spend a good deal of time in Ohio and we recently traveled down to Marietta, OH and found a very nice Little Gem for their courtyard. The nursery in Marietta said that Little Gem was reliably hardy in much of Ohio and has been one of their more reliable grandifloras. I have seen info on the internet to the contrary, though. In visiting nurseries throughout OH, WV and PA I'm seeing a good deal of grandiflora's showing up including- Edith Bogue, Bracken's Brown Beauty, Little Gem, DD Blanchard, etc. Does anyone out there in zones 5 or 6 have experience growing Magnolia grandiflora?

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beng(z6 western MD)

Others will chime in w/various success stories. The 'Victoria' cultivar for me here is ideal -- a bit smaller & more compact than others. No leaf damage at all in z6 in fully exposed conditions. Even a few blooms only in 5th season in ground.

In Toronto you'll need as much wind protection as you can get, if possible.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 10:37AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I think most M grandiflora cultivars will be hardy in Cleveland now. Warming over the majority of the US in the last few decades has placed all of Ohio into a zone 6 or higher climate. I have found grandiflora to be completely hardy in zone 6.

As a point of interest, there are cultivars like "24 Below" that are reported to be hardier than many others.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 11:08AM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

Little Gem is the least hardy of the selections listed. It has been fine in the Cincinnati area for some time though as we have not had a hard winter since 1993 or so. If you are going to try little Gem you may also want to consider Kay Parris. It is a seedling of Little Gem with the nicest foliage of any southern magnolia. The other parent may be Brackens so it may also be hardier.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 1:04PM
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I grow 'Edith Bogue' successfully in my zone 6b yard. Sun til about 2 pm, protected on the north side by tall evergreens and neighbor's house behind them. Mimimal leaf drop, tough tree. Flower buds as large as my fist!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 9:36AM
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Thank you for the information. I should note that I'm not particularly interested in growing magnolia grandiflora myself, but I am posting for my parents. I do recall about 5 years ago, while I was in Ohio seeing a good deal of grandifloras being sold up along Lake Erie at certain nurseries. My father purchased his first Edith Bogue in Akron. The BBB I bought for them was from the Eastern Cleveland Suburbs. I am a plant enthusiast and was truly amazed to see the fact that so many Ediths and BBB's had survived in pots, in the ground, with little to NO damage after consecutive nights around zero and record snowfall in March. I have also spent some time antiquing with them in Lebanon/Waynesville, Ohio and visited some nurseries in the Dayton/Cincy area and I do realize that by the time one reaches Cincy that the variety of grandifloras one can grow expands greatly.

I wasn't personally impressed w/ the looks of Edith Bogue, though it makes a nice specimen for the north. I was much more impressed with the looks of BBB, Little Gem and DD Blanchard. I found the tomentum on the Blanchards to be most attractive, though I was told in Cincy it would not be hardy in Cleveland and to stay with BBB.

David- what type of damage does Little Gem incur in Cincinnati? Do any of the grandifloras suffer winter damage/burn in Cincinnati? I'm under the impression that the most damage to grandiflora in winter actually comes from win and sun, not from cold. Many Grandiflora's can tolerate temperatures below zero, but when the ground is frozen and the evergreen leaves are exposed to bright winter sun, damage occurs. Would sighting more tender grandifloras against a building or out of winter sun help with something like Little Gem?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 9:45AM
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Locally, I am seeing more and more varieties being sold in places that never before carried them in my area. I think there are probably at least three reasons for this. 1.) People are realizing that grandifloras may be hardy in their area even in not traditionally grown in the area, 2.) There has been a lot of work improving the cold hardiness of specific cultivars, 3.) Climatic changes may be pushing their range north. As to cold hardy cultivars, I have heard of the following as being known for cold hardiness: Edith Bogue, Little Gem, Bracken's Brown, and Victoria (free flowering, compact, dark green, vigorous). I know there are others but these are the ones I am familiar with and grow. I also grow Green Giant (very fast grower but not renown for its cold hardiness, nor compactness), Majestic Beauty (very large flowers and lush, sprawling habit. I actually like all of them; each cultivar has its particular advantages. I've read previously about Bogue not being particulally attractive but grown for its cold hardiness. I don't really
understand this critism. I have two Bogues. Both seem to have medium tomentum, are relatively compact, dark green leaves and relatively large flowers. I was going to report a favorite one, but I can't! In answer to your question about leaf scald. Yes, it is true that bitter cold in February or March (as the sun is getting stronger) can be more of a problem than cold earlier in the season. Partially shading in a very cold winter area would be helpful and lessen burning. But you want all of these plants/trees to be given adequate room to grow because most eventually get quite BIG (vertically and HORIZONTALLY). I would be very careful about placement next to a house (though, you're right, it would be milder there). Don't do it!! Also, SPRAY WITH AN ANTI-DESSICATE in November for all newly transplanted trees. Good luck!:)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:21PM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

I don't have Little Gem but I have talked to 2 peolpe that have grown if for the last 10 years here with no problems. Brackens is planted and sold here more than any other selection. In the winter you can get winter burn on the leaves some years but it doesn't hurt the plants.

As far as winter sun and wind goes I agree that they play a factor. The more established a plant is the less of a factor it will be asthe plant roots will be more establishes and more able to supply moisture in the winter. From what I have seen here I would think that the hardier selections of southern magnolia can take -20 for short period of time.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 2:18PM
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This past November, I planted two espaliered 'little gems'. I didn't know about the dessication issue, so I didn't treat them to protect them for it. They are now looking rather sorry and brown. Are the branches with the burnt leaves dead, or will these leaves just fall and be replaced?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 7:23AM
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krazyaroider(Hamburg, NY 14075 Zone 6)

Theresa ~
I assume the 6 indicates Zone 6. I will base my answer on what information you provided.

"This past November, I planted two espaliered 'little gems'."

~ Ouch! November!! I plant all of my Magnolia grandiflora cultivars in SPRING. Why? - This gives them a full growing season to make root growth before their first winter. Do not despair as I do not know of what your winter conditions are like and how you treated/prepared them for winter. I "baby" my trees for at least 3 years to ensure that they are established.

"I didn't know about the dessication issue, so I didn't treat them to protect them for it. They are now looking rather sorry and brown."

~ I hope that you watered them well up unto late fall and they went into winter under moist conditions. I do not know about your wind, temps, sun reflection off house - siding color can make a difference.

" Are the branches with the burnt leaves dead, or will these leaves just fall and be replaced?"

~ Is the bark on the branches still green? If so they MAY still be alive - best to wait until the trees put on new growth. If an when they do, the trees should look as good as when they were first planted. I lose leaves in spring, but they will replace them.

The fact that they are espaliered ( against house?) should help...

Just have to wait and see..........

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:59PM
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krazyaroider(Hamburg, NY 14075 Zone 6)

March 9, 2009 - Update

I checked all magnolias - all except for Edith Bogue have burn on their leaves. The burn is not severe, however the winter has been colder and windier than normal. My magnolias normally lose leaves in the spring when new growth begins so I am not too concerned with springtime leaf dropping.
The trees have burlap screens on the side where the Sun would normally shine on them in the afternoon and the burlap is on the side that the winds normally come from.

I gently "wiggled" random buds on all Magnolias. A stiff rigid bud indicates winter kill and possible die back. All buds that I tested were flexible indicating that they survived to this point. I have done this last year so I am confident that they have survived the worst of this winter.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 10:34AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

How did this work out for your parents?

Just some comments on Cleveland vs. Cincinnati as a former Ohioan chiming in:

As far as absolute minimums, and all-time record lows, Cincinnati has actually been colder than Cleveland in many instances. The lake warms Cleveland a bit on cold winter nights (the Ohio River is too narrow to have much effect in Cincy except *right* on the shoreline. Cincy also tends to have somewhat clearer skies leading to colder nights at times. Both are rated zone 6a.

However, Cleveland's AVERAGE winter temps are about 6 degrees colder than Cincinnati, and Cleveland is more likely to see prolonged subfreezing temps lasting many days. Probably puts CLE at a slight disadvantage over Cincy in that department for a S. Mag. Also, Cleveland gets more snow, and snow load can be a problem for S. Mags.

Overall though they probably have some options to try!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 2:56PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Bumping for this 70s-like winter winds down, to see how all the z5 and 6 M. grandifloras have fared.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

I've seen southern mags die back even here in zone 7. Not sure of the varieties though, and likely they went into the winter not well tended (dried out).

Also, just a note that 'Little Gem' really does not handle heavy snow and ice loads very well. I'm always getting broken limbs nearly every other winter.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 10:24AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Victoria here is fine. A fair bit of leaf-browning & fallen leaves on the south side -- the most since it was very young -- but not a real issue. Plastered by wet snow several times, but its shortish branches popped back up.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:06AM
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My Evergreen wild mag: (Magnolia Grandifolia?) has tan/brown leaf undersides, which never happened before, but otherwise, the tree is fine. I have a Brackens BB, which looks fine.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:12PM
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Just recently had enough snow melt to go looking at some trees on the property, and my Edith Bogue was one of them. She's been a star performer other than her first year or two after planting. Never had any branch breakage, to speak of. Not much winter burn with no extra precautions. This winter, she's looking pretty weather beaten on the foliage, but we've had some really nasty temps for prolonged periods and winds accompanying some of it. So far, it's leaf burn on maybe twenty percent of foliage. Have to wait and see, I guess how it snaps out of it come warm weather (or not). I'd hate to lose her, she's rather large and quite lovely.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 12:57AM
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I already posted, but will add that this is the worst winter in brutal cold several -0F days, and mine still has leaves, brown bottoms and all, they are proving hardy to -10F.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:11PM
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I have grown Magnolia grandiflora "Edith Bogue" successfully in Guelph Ontario for 3 years. Planted outdoors in moist clay loam , slightly above grade and acidified by pine bark, peat moss, humus mix as top dressing . Watered regularly in winter thaws with luke warm water to keep surface roots drawing moisture for leaves ( to mitigate wind desiccation/ winter sunburn ) Flowered 3rd year after planting. Now 9ft high ( 8-12 inches /year) . Growing well this spring (2014) after extraordinarily cold winter down to negative 34C for several nights in January/February. Some leaf dessication this year (first time since planted, probably because of very cold winter)) and 25% leaf burn from spring sun (possibly due to late soil thaw this year as sun got stronger), but these leaves will drop anyway as a matter of course to be replaced by new leaves by June 1. New leaf buds already swelling. Also successfully growing Magnolia asheii, Magnolia virginiana "Porcelain Dove ( amazing plant), 2 hardy crape myrtles, 5 hardy camellias, stewartia and franklinia alamataha amongst other rare/ endangered / and zone pushers. All doing well.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:18PM
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The original Magnolia grandiflora "Poconos" is just a few miles from my house. We had -10F this winter and its completely fine. It get very large white flower when it blooms. Not very tall though only at about 20-30 feet but its very dense.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 11:05PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

M grandifolia's whatever selection they are, got the hell beat out of them this winter in my area. Most will survive, but they look rough right now.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 1:26PM
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