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What Is a Magnolia Bush?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2014
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A magnolia bush is a flowering tree. It's named for the French botanist Pierre Magnol. There are more than 80 magnolia species throughout the Eastern and Southeastern United States as well as parts of Asia and South America. Some of the bushes in the family Magnoliaceae lose their flowers in the spring, while the evergreen types bloom all year.

Many species of magnolia bush have numerous narrow branches with a series of fine, offshoot limbs. The flowers tend to be quite large. Before blossoming, magnolia buds are usually very noticeable on the tree's bare branches. The petals as they're unfolding can look attractive, especially the magnolia blossom with edges tinged in a darker shade that contrasts with the main flower color. When fully blossomed, some types of magnolia bushes can appear as a large ball of flowers with hardly any branches showing.

Magnolia flowers are pink, white, yellow or purple. They may have petals that radiate in a flat fashion from the middle like a daisy, or be more full and layered in shape. While the blossoms and leaves typically have softer edges, the star magnolia bush has spiky petals as well as a narrow leaf. The star variety features large white flowers and is considered a fairly easy-care magnolia. The blooms fall during spring frosts.

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The saucer magnolia also loses its flowers in the spring during an early frost. Its name refers to the often huge, plate-sized blooms that have a wide form. This is a showy magnolia bush with pink-edged white flowers. Gardening experts often recommend taking frost-sensitive magnolias indoors in the winter if possible. While magnolia bushes are beautiful, they aren't the most hearty; their leaves usually turn brown and fall off with the flowers during early frosts.

After magnolia blooms are lost to frost, the bush should usually be pruned to keep it healthy. Despite their fragility to colder weather, magnolia varieties can make good yard trees in residential neighborhoods. They're a popular bush for backyards. The smaller magnolia bush species may be landscaped in groups in a yard for a strong, visual impact. Some magnolias also have wonderful, flowery scents.

Sweet lemony aromas are associated with the Southern magnolia. This species grows larger than the other varieties. The Southern magnolia requires planting to allow for a full-size tree, even though it may take many years to reach the full growth potential. The Southern species of magnolia bush is known to adapt well to different soils and conditions. It's an evergreen species, with an angular rather than rounded appearance, that blooms throughout the year.

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