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Gardenia vs. Magnolia (The Key Differences to Know)

Gardenia vs. Magnolia (The Key Differences to Know)
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Gardenias and magnolias are both popular plants that people like to keep in their gardens. If you don’t know a lot about these plants, then you might think that they sound similar on paper.

Both of these plants are similar in certain ways. They’re both trees that produce blooms that have very big flowers.

However, you’ll see that the differences between magnolias and gardenias mostly stop there. These two plants are quite distinct, and it’s good to know what sets them apart from one another.

Read on to learn about both gardenias and magnolias. This will help you to differentiate between the two, and you might even decide which of them you’ll want to plant in your yard.

The Flowers Are Quite Different

When you take the time to compare gardenias to magnolias, you’ll see that the flowers are different. Magnolia flowers are actually pretty different depending on the type of magnolia that you have.

They can wind up having blooms that are different colors and shapes. There’s a good amount of variety in the magnolia species, and that makes them more fun to care for in some ways.

Gardenias are only going to be capable of producing flowers that are yellow or white. If you’re looking for a plant that has greater variety, then you’ll have more to choose from when looking at magnolias.

It should be said that gardenias do look rather beautiful. The smaller white or yellow blooms are rather appealing, and some might prefer gardenias simply based on aesthetic preferences.

Magnolias Are Much Larger

Magnolias are much larger than gardenias. If you compare the height and width of a magnolia to that of a gardenia, then you’ll find that there is no comparison.

A mature magnolia will reach heights between eight and seventy feet. The width of a mature magnolia will be between four and forty-five feet.

Gardenias will only wind up being between four and twelve feet tall. They can grow as wide as twelve feet when mature.

If you’re looking for a very big tree, then going with a magnolia makes the most sense. Gardenias will also look great in your garden and will be perfect for spots in your yard where you don’t have as much room.

The Growth Rates Differ

You’ll also find that the growth rates of the plants will differ. Magnolias have very fast growth rates.

Gardenias might have fast growth rates, but some of them also have medium growth rates. Those who want something that will become a towering tree fast will want to buy a magnolia.

They Have Similar Light and Soil Requirements

The light and soil requirements of these two plants are pretty much identical. Both magnolias and gardenias will thrive in either full sun or partial shade.

This is good to know because it gives you many places where you can plant these trees in your yard. So long as your yard isn’t completely shaded, these trees should do well enough on your property.

You’ll also see that the soil requirements are the same. Both magnolias and gardenias do best when planted in well-draining soil, and you’re supposed to keep the soil moist.

Keeping the acidity level of the soil between 5.0 and 6.0 is appropriate for both. This is another reason why people link magnolias and gardenias in their minds.

Some Magnolias Aren’t Evergreen

When looking into magnolia options, it’s important to know that not every variety of magnolia is evergreen. If you want to have an evergreen tree or plant in your yard, then some magnolias simply won’t do.

You’ll want to look up specific information to see if the magnolia that you’re looking at is evergreen or deciduous. Some of the most popular evergreen magnolias include magnolia grandiflora, magnolia amazonica, and magnolia hodgsonii.

Deciduous magnolias include saucer magnolias, purple lily magnolias, and magnolia stellata. The deciduous magnolias can actually begin blooming before the leaves form, which is quite an impressive sight to behold.

You’ll also be interested to hear that there are semi-evergreen magnolias. These are magnolias that only shed leaves when planted in colder climates such as those found in USDA hardiness zone 6 and above.

Magnolias Are Hardy

Magnolias are hardier plants than gardenias. They’re able to be grown in more USDA hardiness zones than gardenias, and this might make them a more practical choice for your yard.

Gardenias are capable of thriving in USDA zones 8 through 11. Magnolias do well in USDA zones 4 through 10.

There are some distinctions to note between the different varieties of magnolias, though. For instance, some magnolias are more frost-tolerant than others.

You’ll find quite a few varieties of gardenias that won’t tolerate frost. Some of them can only be grown in the warmer USDA zones such as zones 10 and 11.

Magnolias Cost More

Magnolias cost a lot more money on average when compared to gardenias. If you’re looking for a cost-effective flowering tree, then you might be better off buying gardenias.

It makes sense that magnolias would cost more money, though. Magnolias are much larger than gardenias.

The cost of magnolias also has to do with the method of propagation. Magnolias are primarily propagated by grafting, and this is something that takes a significant time investment.

Gardenias can be propagated using simple cuttings. It’s a much easier method, and it makes it so that gardenias are easier to reproduce and sell.

Gardenias Make Great Ground Cover Options

Do you find yourself in need of ground cover options in your yard? There are many gardenia options that will work out nicely.

Magnolias are far too large to be able to provide ground cover. Many gardenias will be the perfect height and width to do the job.

Although both magnolias and gardenias can be either bushes or small trees, magnolias are simply too big for this job. If you really need ground cover, then you’ll want to purchase gardenias.

One of the best types of gardenias to purchase for ground cover purposes is known as gardenia jasminoides. Consider looking into this variety of gardenia if you want good ground cover.