Magnolia Tree Colorado: How to Choose, Plant, and Maintain Them

Is magnolia tree Colorado native? 

Magnolias are timeless trees, with large, fragrant flowers and glossy green leaves, compelling you to adopt them in your yard. 

magnolia tree colorado
Magnolia Spectrum

One thing is clear, magnolia trees can be grown in Colorado. But growing magnolias in the Centennial State may require a bit of attention and love for it to really live healthily. 

Join us as we discover the different varieties of magnolia trees in Colorado and how to turn your backyard into a magnificent magnolia paradise.

Is Magnolia Tree Colorado Native?

Magnolia trees are native to North America, but only a few species able to tolerate the dry, harsh winds, and frosty elements of Colorado’s Front Range. 

Saucer magnolias, in particular, are resilient and can grow into deciduous shrubs or small, round trees. 

Eight magnolia species are native to North America, including the Southern, Starr, Loebner, Sweetbay Magnolia, and Cucumber trees.

magnolia tree colorado
Saucer Magnolia. Credit: Aubrey Odom/Unsplash

Types of Magnolia Trees in Colorado

Magnolia trees come in various types in different states across America, with each type being unique yet similar in some ways.

These iconic trees can be evergreen or deciduous, and both types produce cone-shaped fruits and aromatic flowers.

All magnolia trees bloom at least once a year, while some varieties bloom twice.

In Colorado (growing zone 3a-7a), you can try growing the following types of magnolia trees:

  • Ashe’s Magnolia
  • Edith Bogue Magnolia
  • Magnolia Spectrum
  • Magnolia Vulcan
  • Wilson’s Magnolia
  • Star Magnolia
  • Saucer Magnolia
  • Sweetbay Magnolia
  • Southern Magnolia
  • Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata)
magnolia tree colorado
Cucumber Magnolia

What Does a Magnolia Tree Look Like?

Magnolia trees come in various species, and in Colorado, the Saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) and the Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) are popular choices for gardeners.

These species are hardy and resistant to common diseases that affect other varieties.

Magnolia trees produce large, aromatic flowers that can be white or pink.

With smooth and shiny leaves that can reach up to six inches long, the plant produces flowers that usually appear in the beginning of spring or summer.

Sometimes, it may surprise you with another round of blooms from its new shoots in autumn.

During autumn, magnolia leaves turn reddish brown and gracefully fall to the ground, revealing the tree’s magnificent interwoven and thick branch structure.

Birds particularly enjoy using these fallen leaves for nesting purposes.

magnolia tree colorado
Magnolia Stellata

How Big Does a Magnolia Tree Get?

Whether you want them as bushes or trees, magnolias are long-lasting plants that can survive for eight decades with good care.

You can trim the bushy ones to keep them around 15 feet tall, or let the towering ones soar up to 80 feet high in their natural habitats.

They are great for your landscape design, as you can adjust their size and shape to suit your space and create a classy and lovely environment.

Before Planting Magnolia Trees

As you are about to plant the magnolia trees into your garden, it is beneficial to take a moment for a pre-planting ritual, or so I call it.

magnolia tree colorado
  1. Review if you have selected the right magnolia tree variant for your garden, since their care requirements might change in different species. 

Some varieties of magnolia trees, such as the Southern Magnolia and the Saucer Magnolia, love the sun and need at least six hours of full sun exposure per day.

But others like the Star Magnolia and the Sweetbay Magnolia, only enjoy partial shade or dappled sunlight.

  1. Review the climate of your planting area. As you live in Colorado, you know that its climate can scatter from dry and sunny to wet and cloudy between close areas. How much sunlight does your city get?
  2. Review the soil conditions. Your magnolia tree will grow best in soil that is slightly acidic, well-drained, and nutrient-rich. If your soil is the opposite, too alkaline or clay-like, you can still plant the tree with some nutrients supports, which we will discuss later.
  3. Review water practice. Colorado winters can be harsh and dry, so your tree needs plenty of water to survive. Make sure to give it a drink at least two times a week, and more often during drought days.
magnolia tree colorado
Southern Magnolia

How and When to Plant Magnolia Tree in Colorado

When planting magnolias, choose your site carefully.

These trees have wide-spread, shallow root systems that can be easily damaged during transplanting.

Larger magnolias are excellent shade trees in larger yards, with branch spreads of 30 to 40 feet.

Compact and shrubby varieties are perfect for borders or as ornamental trees in Asian gardens.

Early spring and summer are ideal for planting magnolia trees in southeastern zones, from Virginia to Florida and up to the east of Texas.

magnolia tree colorado
Magnolia Vulcan Flower Bud

What Type of Soil Does it Need?

As stated above, this plant generally prefers acidic soil.

If what you are having is too neutral or alkaline, you can fix it with peat moss to lower the pH level and mulching the plant with pine needles for more acidic support.

How Much Light Do They Need?

When it comes to successfully growing magnolia trees in Colorado, understanding their light requirements is crucial.

Magnolia trees are not picky about light, but some variants may need more sun to really fare well and healthy. 

How to Care for Magnolia Trees

magnolia tree colorado
Ashe’s Magnolia

Magnolia trees are hardy and adaptable. They can withstand various climates and are highly resistant to frost and wind damage.

Here are some care tips for your magnolia tree:

  • Prune your magnolia tree after it’s done blooming.
  • Fertilize only if your tree has yellow leaves or appears unhealthy.
  • Water your magnolia tree regularly, especially in Colorado’s fluctuating temperature conditions. The amount of water depends on the soil type and weather conditions. Sandy loam or loam soil is ideal for magnolias, and during hot, dry periods, you should water your tree more frequently.
  • Aim to provide your magnolia tree with 1 inch of water per week, measuring it at the base of the tree using a small cup or slow-running nozzle on a garden hose.
  • Consider using a soil testing kit from a garden center to determine your soil’s composition and pH level.

Interesting Facts

magnolia tree colorado
  • The two oldest trees on the White House grounds were planted between 1829 and 1837. Andrew Jackson planted Southern magnolia trees in memory of his late wife.
  • Magnolia tree fossils date back over 100 million years and are believed to be the earliest known flowering plants.
  • Magnolia trees depend on beetles for pollination, as they predate the existence of bees.

Final Thoughts

With proper care and consideration for their specific needs, magnolia trees can bring beauty and elegance to your Colorado backyard.

Enjoy the stunning blooms and the serene atmosphere they create, making your outdoor space a true sanctuary.