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Magnolias to Grow In Iowa

Magnolia tree in bloom

If you’re looking for something unique that blooms early spring in Iowa, Magnolia trees are your answer. Magnolias are not just for southern landscapes. In fact, many varieties will thrive in Iowa as well. Their blooms come in various shades of pink, white or yellow and they are known for their sheer beauty and fragrance. Each Magnolia cultivar even has its own unique scent! 

Magnolias grow a bit slower than some other ornamental trees, but this makes them strong wooded trees that live a very long time. Lucky for us, magnolias bloom at a very young age, many start flowering right after they are planted.

White magnolia tree blooming in spring, possibly in Iowa

How to Care for Magnolias

Magnolias don’t require any extra special care. You may prune up the lower limbs over time to create a higher canopy if you wish. Otherwise, plant Magnolias in full sun and follow your typical guidelines for tree establishment.

We have seen magnolias even do well in part-sun to shade. The more shade a Magnolia gets, the fewer blooms you will see. However, that can make them look even more special so don’t be afraid to give your magnolia a try in a somewhat shaded area.

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Spring flowering Magnolia tree covered in flower buds

Magnolias for Iowa

Saucer Magnolia are the most widely known in our area, with their tulip-shaped flowers that smell wonderful, even from a distance. They grow in full-to-part sun and reach 20-30′ tall. Saucer Magnolias are most commonly multi-stemmed trees.

This variety was planted often in older neighborhoods. Those trees have become quite stately over the years. It would be nice to see these coming back into newer neighborhoods.

Saucer Magnolia Tree in bloom in spring in Iowa
blooms on an Gold Star magnolia tree

Gold Star Magnolia are known for their creamy yellow, fragrant flowers that arrive early spring. This cultivar naturally grows in a single stem form, growing upright until reaching its maximum height of about 25′. 

The blooms are similar to those found on the Royal Star, but with a yellowish coloration. Yellow Magnolias tolerate a bit more shade than any other color due to its relation to the Cucumber Magnolia.

Elizabeth Magnolia have lemony yellow goblet-shaped flowers. Their fragrance is unforgettable without being overwhelming. Like the Gold Star Magnolia, Elizabeth also tolerate more shade than other varieties and most commonly grows in single stem form. They grow to be 20-30′ tall.

yellow bloom on Elizabeth Magnolia tree

Ann Magnolia is the perfect choice if you have a smaller yard. This dwarf variety maxes out at 12-15′ tall. It most often grows as a multi-stemmed tree, but Ann can be found on a single stem occasionally. The goblet-shaped flowers found on these ornamental trees are some of the deepest pink you can find. Ann Magnolias bloom a little later, meaning they often avoid damaging frosts.

deep pink blooms on an Ann Magnolia Tree

Royal Star is one of the most widely planted Magnolias today. Also a dwarf variety, they only grow to be about 12′ tall and wide. These daisy-shaped blooms open very early in the season. They are very lightly scented and pure white in color. Royal Star Magnolias grow very well in full-to-part sun.

Royal Star Magnolia Tree in bloom
Royal Star Magnolia bloom up close

Magnolias come in such a wide variety that we believe there’s one that would work in almost every yard – no matter the lighting, space available or desired bloom time. Stop by our garden center today and we’ll help you find the perfect fit.


The Ted Lare Look

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