S & J Nursery’s
guide to growing
Alta Magnolia Trees
in the Northeast Florida Landscape
( Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Alta’ )
Magnolia Alta Beauty Origins:
– A selection of the North American Native Magnolia Grandiflora grown for
its smaller mature height and width that make it an ideal choice for a smaller ornamental tree. Dense
foliage with an attractive dark underside to the leaf add to the overall attractiveness of the Alta
Alta Magnolia Preferred Exposure:
– Full sun to partial sun/shade situations are tolerated in the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine
Alta Foliage | Bark:
– Alta Magnolia remains evergreen keeping its foliage in the winter season.
– Foliage of the Alta Magnolia is smaller than the norm for Southern Magnolias
being about half the size of the foliage of the more traditional Southern Magnolia that you may find growing
wild in the Southeastern US. The leaves of the Alta Magnolia are a somewhat glossy green on the surface
with a soft fuzzy tan brown underneath the leaf.
Alta Magnolia Soil Preference / Salt tolerance:
– Alta will prefer slightly
acidic soil but will tolerate sand, loam, clay,
slightly alkaline and even occasionally wet
– Only moderately salt tolerant
Magnolia Alta Size Variance:
– Can reach sizes of 20-30 feet H | and spreading narrowly only to about 10 ft
feet wide making it fit nicely in the smaller sized areas of the landscape and an ideal choice for foundation
plantings and near patios, pools and walkways where other larger Magnolias should be avoided.
Magnolia Alta Growth Habit:
– Magnolia Alta are densely foliated trees with a more narrow than typical of the species and
strongly pyramidal growth habit and tend to have branches very near ground level unless pruned up by removing
the lower branches to expose underneath the tree.
Magnolia Alta Growth Rate:
– Alta Magnolia trees are slower growing cultivar.
Magnolia Alta Bloom:
– These trees have a large and highly fragrant creamy white leathery blooms that
reach 6-12 inches across with a central cone that will enlarge and open up after the petals have gone to
expose beautiful bright red seeds that are utilized by various wildlife in the North Florida | Jacksonville |
St. Augustine area landscapes and gardens.
– Its no wonder these impressive blooms are the state flower for both Louisianan and
Magnolia Alta Water Requirements:
– Plants will need daily water after being planted from a container or transplanted
into the landscape and supplimental irrigation during periods of reduced local rainfall for the first season or
Butterfly or Bird Attracting:
– Magnolias thickly foliated branches make ideal nesting sites for Northeast Florida’s birds. Blooms are
followed by a fuzzy tan to brown central cone that when mature in the fall will open up to expose bright glossy red
seeds that are utilized by wildlife as a food source during the fall and winter season.
Best Uses For Alta in the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine landscape:
– Southern Magnolia Alta is an ideal selection for a smaller scale garden area or where space
limitations would make the broader spreading Southern Magnolia selections out of place. Its extremely columnar
growth habit also makes it ideal for a lawn shade tree for between homes or when horizontal space may be limited by
fences, sheds, garages, pools, and patios.
– Alta will supply excellent coverage to screen large unwanted views and will remain evergreen in the
winter time and have the added bonus of the large fragrant blooms.
– Southern Magnolia trees respond extremely well to pruning and can be kept in almost any form and used as an
espalier or even clipped into a smaller privacy hedge. The slower growth rate of the Alta magnolia makes it an
ideal selection for these uses.
– Southern Magnolias make excellent street trees.
Care of Southern Magnolia Alta:
– Although Magnolia trees can be planted from a container into the
landscape any time of the
year in our North Florida |
Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscapes, Magnolias root systems
are very wide for their size making
transplanting sometimes difficult, so if you decide to move
one from one location to another in
the yard be sure to do it in winter or spring for the best result possible.
– Water every day during the
establishment period, See watering your newly planted trees for
more information. Magnolia’s must be
watched for the first one to two seasons after being planted
or transplanted in the landscape and
supplemental water supplied in any time of drought. They are
slower to establish themselves into
the landscape than many other trees and should be watered
well once a week when local rainfall
– Magnolias respond well to pruning, when shaping a younger tree
they should be pruned 6 inches deeper than where you
would like to see the re-growth
appear. Everywhere you trim the tree will sprout new growth
and begin to branch out and fill in.
So if you have a scarcely foliated Magnolia tree get out the
pruners and remove as many growing tips as
possible, prune deeper into the branch in
foliated areas to get them to branch
out and fill in the gaps.
– Magnolias have lots of branches
all though they will be smaller in diameter in comparison to other larger growing shade trees like an Oak. Prune
out the occasional occurrence of a branch at a sharper angle than 45 degrees or if damaged etc. by removing the
branch all the way back to the trunk.
– Provide a 1 ft diameter circle of
mulched area where grass is kept from growing for each inch
of caliper (or diameter) of trunk
measured 4 inches from the ground level.
– Fertilize each spring with a
mixture of Milorganite and a slow release poly coated plant food
such as Osmocote or Stay Green
general purpose plant food, sprinkling the fertilizer around
the mulch circle underneath the
foliage of the tree.