Umbrella Magnolia is typically found in cool ravines, stream banks, and rich woods, in areas like the Ozarks and the Appalachian Mountains. Avoid planting in areas that are either too wet or too dry as it is intolerant of extremes. Choose a location that is sheltered from northern winds, as they can cause damage to the lovely, large leaves. An ideal location would provide shade in the afternoon.
Umbrella Magnolia, with a spread of only 15′-20′ is a perfect size and a lovely choice for an urban or suburban residence provided they are planted away from streets or driveways which are salted in the winter. While the large, white flowers have a disagreeable scent, the fragrance doesn’t travel far and isn’t an issue in the typical landscape setting—their visual appeal is more than worth the trade-off. The large leaves add a tropical vibe and stand out among other plants typically used in a Midwest landscape.
As an understory tree, Umbrella Magnolia tolerates some shade which makes it a great addition to a woods’ edge, or under existing trees. Preference for moist soil makes it an ideal choice for a site near a downspout, as this will keep the soil moist and, provided it’s an area with good drainage, not constantly wet.