Hardy Magnolia Varieties – Learn About Zone 6 Magnolia Trees

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Growing magnolias in zone 6 climates may seem like an impossible feat, but not all magnolia trees are hothouse flowers. In fact, there are more than 200 species of magnolia, and of those, many beautiful hardy magnolia varieties tolerate the chilly winter temperatures of USDA hardiness zone 6. Read on to learn about a few of the many types of zone 6 magnolia trees.

How Hardy are Magnolia Trees?

Hardiness of magnolia trees varies widely depending on the species. For example, Champaca magnolia (Magnolia champaca) thrives in humid tropical and subtropical climates of USDA zone 10 and above. Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is a slightly tougher species that tolerates relatively mild climates of zone 7 through 9. Both are evergreen trees.

Hardy zone 6 magnolia trees include Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata), which grows in USDA zone 4 through 8, and Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), which grows in zones 5 through 10. Cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata) is an extremely tough tree that tolerates extreme cold winters of zone 3.

Hardiness of Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) depends on the cultivar; some grow in zones 5 through 9, while others tolerate climates as far north as zone 4.

Generally, hardy magnolia varieties are deciduous.

Best Zone 6 Magnolia Trees

Star magnolia varieties for zone 6 include:

  • ‘Royal Star’
  • ‘Waterlily’

Sweetbay varieties that will thrive in this zone are:

  • ‘Jim Wilson Moonglow’
  • ‘Australis’ (also known as Swamp magnolia)

Cucumber trees that are suitable include:

  • Magnolia acuminata
  • Magnolia macrophylla

Saucer magnolia varieties for zone 6 are:

  • ‘Alexandrina’
  • ‘Lennei’

As you can see, it is possible to grow a magnolia tree in a zone 6 climate. There are a number to choose from and their ease of care, along with other attributes specific to each, make these great additions to the landscape.

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How to Plant a Magnolia Tree – Facts, Planting, Care & Pruning

Complete magnolia tree growing guides including how to plant, how to prune, how to grow, when to prune, and when to plant

The Magnolia tree is a majestic focal point that works in a variety of landscapes. Knowing how to grow a magnolia tree is contingent on knowing what species are fitting for your area. Despite being acquainted with southern regions, specific varieties of magnolias do flourish in the north.

Traditional Southern magnolia trees grow best in zones 6-10 however, hybrids such as the star magnolia can thrive in areas as cold as zone 4. It is always best to inquire about compatible species while at the nursery to ensure the tree’s chances at longevity.


When planting magnolias, pick the site carefully. They have wide-spread, shallow root systems that can be easily damaged during transplanting. Larger magnolias have branch spreads of 30 to 40 feet, making them useful as shade trees in larger yards. Compact, shrubby varieties are attractive in borders or as an ornamental tree in Asian gardens.

Plant evergreen magnolias in early spring. Plant deciduous magnolias during autumn if you live in the South and during spring if you live in the North.

Well-drained, rich in organic matter. Can tolerate clay, loam, or sandy soils.


Evergreen varieties grow best in full sun. Deciduous species prefer part shade. Where frost is possible after blooming begins, grow in a protected location.

Magnolia Species, Bull Bay, Evergreen Magnolia, Large-Flowered Magnolia, Southern Magnolia


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

Where to Grow:


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Ferment seeds before storing


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

East Palo Alto, California

Green Cove Springs, Florida

Niceville, Florida(2 reports)

Warner Robins, Georgia(2 reports)

Shawnee Mission, Kansas(2 reports)

New Orleans, Louisiana(2 reports)

Feeding Hills, Massachusetts

Termes-d'Armagnac, Midi-PyrГ©nГ©es(1734 reports)

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Wilsons Mills, North Carolina

Beaverton, Oregon(12 reports)

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Round Rock, Texas(2 reports)

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Gardeners' Notes:

On Oct 18, 2020, nyy_ct119 from Waterford, CT wrote:

Magnolia grandiflora used to be very rare north of NYC. This started changing around Y2K. While not ubiquitous, there are now quite a few in visible locations in the shoreline towns of Connecticut (zone 7a). Some of the oldest specimens in the state are at or over three stories in height. In Connecticut, it’s still under-utilized in commercial applications. The scent of the flower is incredible. It makes for very interesting winter evergreen foliage and can screen for privacy purposes well.

On Jan 5, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

According to the Illinois Poison Control Center, magnolias are completely non-toxic to humans. The California Poison Control System says the same.

On Jan 18, 2014, lalea878 from Mobile, AL wrote:

This variety grows on its own here in the deep south, but I look at it as a symbol of the south and all the friendliness one finds down here. The hot humid weather gets on my last nerve at times but truly missed the south when I lived in AZ. I found out that 110 degrees at 7% humidity doesnt feel as hot as 80 degrees in the south on the coast, where you can almost cut the air with a knife at times! Love the trees down here and with my lot being partly wooded, I enjoy plenty of them, including this one.

On Jun 17, 2010, PammiePi from Green Cove Springs, FL wrote:

A native tree here in NE Florida, I live on a partially wooded acre on a large pond, and these trees can be found growing everywhere, almost to the point where they could be considered a pest, if it weren't for the fact they are so beautiful. The first year we lived here I transplanted a young tree that was growing along the fenceline, and planted it off the driveway in clay/sandy soil in a sunny location. This was my first experiment with transplanting a Magnolia. The tree thrived and grew quickly. It took about 7-8 years before the tree started blooming, when it reached about 30 ft. high. The white blooms are large and beautiful, the tree has a nice pyramidical shape, and the large evergreen leaves add a nice texture to the landscape. My particular tree only required care in the ea. read more rly days, when it was first transplanted. Otherwise it is a no-maintenance tree, other than an occasional pruning of lower or dead branches. They do get big, so care should be taken on where you plant it.

On May 19, 2009, Agaveguy from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Not well adapted to thinner soils of this area, or to our frequent droughts. Best specimens are in deep soils in river bottoms.

On Sep 18, 2008, baiissatva from Dunedin,
New Zealand wrote:

This is a commonly planted tree down here and though exceedingly handsome when flourishing, there is nothing sadder-looking than a tortured specimen, with its puny yellowing leaves and spindly branches. So make sure your conditions are right. Up the road on a flatter site a 10 metre Grandiflora has just root-rotted out and toppled over after a particularly wet winter. (I find the following to be a reliable test of your conditions- Dig a two foot hole in your yard and fill with water- if its still there after 12 hours, you have crappy drainage and can consider yourself a tree-cemetery without remedial work.) So dont bother if youre soggy. Or too dry. Mags like regular water and this one's no exception.

This is an assertive tree in the landscape and will kick sand in the. read more faces of more delicate specimens with its deep shade and dominating colours and textures. Im growing 'Little Gem' to avoid this phenomenon. Looks best with other evergreens and particularly with our indigenous shrubs which share its glossiness and are enlivened by the flowers. In a large formal setting, a matched pair look fabulous. It's evergreen here, flowering all year round.

I dig up and move my magnolias quite often before settling on the right place for them, without a loss to date, so I find all that lore about not being able to re-locate them to be overstated.

See some of our plants and gardenalia at The Blackthorn Orphans.com

On Dec 23, 2006, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

WAY overplanted tree here in Southern California, where it is one the city's favorite landscape trees, in some misguided effort to make LA remind them of the east coast perhaps? Whatever the reason, this tree does fairly well here, though never looks as great as it does in the deep south. Leaves fall off at the untraditional time of Spring, so leaf raking plans should be made for then. Some large trees seem to lose their entire set of leaves over a month, while growing new leaves at a rapid rate (so the tree is never leafless).

I personally dislike this tree because I have one in my yard and it drops huge leaves on my plants below, and I didn't plant it (street tree).. but the city never trims it, so it looks terrible. But if well trimmed, it can be a gorgeous tree.

On Jul 14, 2005, Fleurs from Columbia, SC wrote:

'Little Gem' is a cultivar which reaches 20' tall and 10' wide and blooms at a very young age. Blooming is heaviest in Spring and continues throughout Summer and into Fall. One year the blossoms on 'Little Gem' barely escaped a snowfall!

'DD Blanchard' grows to 30' tall and 20' wide. Its leaves are larger and even glossier than those of 'Little Gem.' DDB's flowers wait for about 3 years to bloom while it doesn't have nearly the same number of blooms as 'Little Gem,' the flowers are larger and more volumptuous. Both trees are gorgeous and easy to grow, but be careful when purchasing these magnolias we purchased 'DD Blanchard' by mistake, being assured it was 'Little Gem.'

As the magnolias age, the leaves drop more heavily, but cleanup isn't nearly as. read more arduous as that mandated by my neighbor's poorly sited Sycamore!

On Sep 19, 2004, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

One of the best Southern trees. The huge white flowers have few rivals and the evergreen leves are impressive. Almost every yard in my area seems to have them. They look at their best when allowed to grow naturally and branch all the way down the trunk to the ground, so provide plenty of room!

On Jul 24, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

I was very surprised to see magnolias growing and blooming in Hawaii. I never thought of it as a "tropical" plant, but they do quite well here. They seem to bloom more often here throughout the year than the ones I had growing in my yard in SC, where I lived for many years.

On Jul 23, 2004, aviator8188 from Murphysboro, IL (Zone 7a) wrote:

Magnolias grow very tall and wide here in zone 7a extreme southern Illinois. The Mag's also bloom continuosly during the summer. Although they grow slow, their well worth the wait!

On Apr 12, 2004, Andrsta1 from Shawnee Mission, KS wrote:

On Nov 11, 2003, dogbane from New Orleans, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I do love Magnolias. Along with Live Oaks and Bald Cypress, they rank as the best of the southern trees. However, in heavy wet soils like we have here in New Orleans, Magnolias face lots of stress and it shows by making the tree susceptable to scale insects. These are very difficult to treat and make the tree unsightly.

On Aug 30, 2002, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I LOVE this tree! The fragrance of the huge white blooms is incredible. One bloom will make an entire room smell good.

On Jan 25, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is the traditional Magnolia of the southern U.S., blooming with fragrant, creamy white flowers in the spring and intermittently throughout early summer. M. grandiflora is the state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi. The large (4"-8" long) and broad leaves are a lighter colored and pliable when young, aging to a darker color and leathery texture.

With such broad leaves, Magnolias need protection from wind. Carefully consider their eventual size (and the deep shade they cast) when positioning them in your yard. Some gardeners limb up the trees, while others allow the lower brances to remain.

Either way, they're a beautiful (if imposing) presence in the landscape, and their leaves and seed pods provide beautiful holiday decoration material.

Perfect for small gardens, Magnolia 'Susan' is a slow-growing deciduous shrub or small tree with fragrant reddish-purple flowers in mid to late spring. Narrow goblet-shaped, the blossoms, up to 5 in. across (12 cm), count 6 slightly twisted tepals, purple-red on the outside and paler inside. While this Magnolia flowers primarily in spring, it may continue to bloom sporadically thereafter where moisture is adequate. The foliage of ovate, medium green leaves turns golden-yellow in fall. This hybrid Magnolia blooms at an early age and makes an elegant, small specimen tree.

'Susan' is a cross between Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra' and Magnolia stellata 'Rosea'. It belongs to the Little Girl series ('Ann', 'Betty', 'Jane', 'Judy', 'Pinkie', 'Randy', 'Ricki' and 'Susan') of hybrid Magnolias developed at the National Arboretum in the mid-1950s. Since these plants bloom about 2-4 weeks later than Magnolia stellata and Magnolia x soulangeana, they usually escape potential damage to their pretty flowers from late spring frosts.

  • Grows with a compact, upright habit up to 8-12 ft. tall and wide (2-4 m)
  • Winner of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • A full sun to part shade lover, this plant is best grown in consistently moist, slightly acidic, organically rich, well-drainedsoils. Magnolias are adaptable to clay, loam or sandy soils, but most grow poorly in wet or poorly drained soils. Provide a site sheltered from cold, dry winds as buds and flowers may be damaged by cold winds. Late frosts may damage flower buds too.
  • May be attacked by scale insects, coral spot, honey fungus and phytophthora root rot.
  • Spectacular as specimen plant for dramatic spring blooms. Great flowering tree for city gardens or cottage gardens.
  • Magnolia pruning should be carried out in midsummer when in full leaf
  • Deciduous Magnolias are best planted when dormant, in late fall or winter in warmer climates and early spring in cold climates. Evergreen magnolias are best planted in early spring. For the first 6 to 12 months after planting, both types will benefit from mulch and regular irrigation during warm or dry weather.
  • Propagate by softwood cuttings in spring or early summer, or semi-ripe cuttings in late summer and fall

Magnolia Leaves

Magnolia leaves are glossy green on the upper-side and have smooth edges

Magnolia leaves are glossy, green, leathery leaves that are an ovate or lanceolate shape. The leaves on magnolia trees have a simple, alternate arrangement on woody stems. Magnolia leaves grow between 5” and 8” (12 – 20 cm) long and up to 5” (12 cm) wide. All varieties of magnolias have leaves with smooth margins.

Larger Deciduous Magnolias

Big-leaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) is an immensely beautiful tree. Over time it will develop into a 30- to 40-foot tree. It has the largest leaves of all the magnolias. The leaves have a heart-shaped base and appear along with the large, cup-like flowers in early summer. The flowers are creamy white and can reach a width of 16 inches. The large 1- to 3-foot long leaves look tropical. Big-leaf magnolia is hardy to zone 4.

  • These varieties do well in full sun, but the foliage will look better given afternoon sun protection.
  • Big-leaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) is an immensely beautiful tree.

The Yulan magnolia (Magnolia denudata) is a fast-growing 30- to 50-foot tree. It develops creamy 4- to 8-inch creamy white tulip-like flowers in spring just before leaf-break. Yulan magnolia is hardy to USDA zone 5.

These magnolias do best in rich, well-draining soil. They prefer full sun but will grow in partial shade.

Watch the video: 9 Different Magnolia Trees +Fragrant Flower Shade @ Yale+

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