Sweetbay Magnolia roots easily from softwood cuttings, grows well near the coast, and is happiest in Southern climates in wet places similar to its native habitat. This plant can tolerate extended periods of flooding. It grows as a shrub in the northern part of its range. I (Dr. Gilman) can remember learning it in school as a tall shrub/small tree in the southern swamps of New Jersey. The plant reaches its true potential size in the southern portion of its range.
Despite its tolerance to wet soil, it grows well in non-irrigated landscapes, provided there is plenty of soil for root expansion and some shade. In the confined soil spaces typical of urban areas, irrigation is recommended. It has not been planted extensively in downtown urban areas, but its flood and moderate drought tolerance and narrow crown combine to make it a good candidate. Flowers provide a wonderful fragrance to any landscape. ‘Havener’ has larger flowers; the variety australis is evergreen.
Wood is considered diffuse porous, meaning that there is little difference in size of pores between spring and summer wood. Plants serve as hosts for palamedes swallowtail (Papilio palamedes), spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus), and tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterfly larvae.
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