Sweetbay Magnolia, Silver Bay, Swamp Bay 'Northern Belle'

Magnolia virginiana

Family: Magnoliaceae
Genus: Magnolia (mag-NO-lee-a) (Info)
Species: virginiana (vir-jin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Northern Belle




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

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)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer




Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Peoria, Illinois

Lexington, Massachusetts

Bothell, Washington

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 5, 2015, RosemaryK from Lexington, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I might have to withdraw my endorsement of this plant. It has lovely flowers and a nice upright shape. All of my magnolias took a hit with the long harsh winter in this area but none of them died. Northern Belle lost its leaves, sprouted new ones, and then by the end of May, they all wilted away. I suppose it is fortunate that some sports are coming up from the roots, so all is not lost. I do not know the cause of the sudden death of the main plant after a nice rally. I watered well in spring and did not fertilize with any chemicals, just added a nice compost mulch.


On Jan 27, 2014, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have had brief experiences with Northern Belle in the past. I have noticed that its flowers are larger and sweeter smelling than the species. I tried growing two of these plants in 2003 but lost them to either chemical burn or verticillium wilt, not sure which but no amount of water could keep them from wilting or dropping leaves. That yard had significant cultural problems that laid many plants to dust but I no longer live there.

I am trialing this plant again, hoping for good results. My two favorites of the virginianas for zone 5 would be Moonglow for its multi-stem and cultural dependent quick growth. Northern belle would be the best single stem. I have not experienced the leaf retention of this plant yet obviously to compare to Moonglow. This first winter it h... read more