Magnolia virginiana

Common name: Sweet Bay Magnolia

Non-native plant

A magnolia that stays green (somewhat anyway) in winter here in Chicago? Craziness! It is true, though. We'd recommend that you plant it on sites that have a nice Eastern exposure or sunny protected cove in yards and gardens. This will keep it from the harms of the Chicago winters. The foliage is a glossy green with whitish undersides that we've yet to see a harsh blemish or pest on. The flowers are white and saucer-sized. (They remind me of white tea cups on a green table.) They can be showy once the tree gets large enough to produce larger numbers of them, but you'll notice the scent with just a few. The bark is smooth and gray. It does not like compacted soils and tends to favor richer soils (nice black stuff). Grows much faster than you might think.


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Price Level: 
Woodies- Specialty Tree Tier 2
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5 Gallon
10 Gallon
15 Gallon


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Plant Details

Plant type


Soil type

Mesic (Not too Wet Not too Dry)

Light exposure

Full Sun, Partial Sun / Part Shade

Bloom period

Late Spring

Urban environment

Uncompacted Urban Soils, Requires Protected Site


Savannas, Woodlands

Growth form

Shrubby/Clump, Single trunk

Growth rate


Flower color


Fall color

Orange Yellow


Mature height
25 Feet
Mature width
15 Feet
Max height
40 Feet
Max width
25 Feet

Additional information

Retains leaves in winter

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