Magnolia Tree vs Cherry Blossom: They Are Very Different


Magnolia and Cherry Blossom are two trendy flowering trees. It’s even hard for me to say which one is more common.

Even though they have beautiful flowers, they are entirely different plants with their advantages and disadvantages. Today we will try to find out what the difference is between them and which one to choose.

First of all, these are two different genius.

Magnolia is a fairly big tree with large flowers and the same large leaves. They are distributed in Asia, North and South America.

Cherry Blossom belongs to the genus Prunus. It has small flowers and leaves. It is native to Asia. In Japan, it is a national symbol.

Magnolia Cherry Blossom
Hardiness zone 4-10 5-8
Mature height 8-70 ft 30-50 ft
Mature width 4-45 ft 35-50 ft
Growth rate fast fast
Light exposure full sun, partial shade full sun, partial shade
Soil moist, drained moist, drained
Soil pH 5.0-6.0 6.0-6.5
Watering One time per week in a drought One time per week in a drought
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects insects
Magnolia Tree and Cherry Blossom
Cherry Blossom and Magnolia Tree

They have different flowers

Flowers are the biggest difference between these two plants.

Magnolia flowers are much larger than Cherry blossom. Their size can reach 8 inches (20 cm) across.

The petals are also large; their length can be 2-4 inches (5-10 cm). The number of petals is much smaller than that of Cherry Blossom flowers.

Magnolia flowers also grow singly and look like water lilies. There are a pistil and a stamen in each flower’s center; their color is yellow, giving the flower even more beauty.

The center of the Cherry Blossom flower is not visible, so there is an advantage in magnolias.

Cherry Blossom flowers are small. Their size does not exceed 1-1.5 inches (2-3 cm). As a result, they are not as expressive as magnolia flowers.

However, Cherry Blossom flowers grow in bunches, which gives the tree splendor. Also, the number of petals is much larger than in magnolias. The flowers of some varieties have more than a hundred petals.

All this makes the Cherry Blossom look like a snow-covered tree during flowering. Its flowers are less emphatic, but there are many of them; thus, we get a unique effect.

It is difficult for me to judge who blooms better. Magnificent pompoms of Cherry Blossom Kikuzakura looks incredible, as well as Magnolia Butterflies flowers. In my opinion, the score is equal here.

Magnolia has a broader range of colors

The number of colors in which Magnolia flowers can be painted is more significant than in Cherry Blossom. Besides, the intensity of color in Magnolia is greater than in its counterpart.

Cherry Blossom has pink flowers. Sometimes it can be light pink as in Yoshino. Many varieties have bright pink petals, such as Kwanzan or Kanhizakura.

But there are flowering cherries with white flowers, one of which is Ukon. And that’s all, these days there are no other colors.

With Magnolia, everything is different; it has a much wider range of colors. Let’s take a quick look at them.

First of all, it should be noted Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). It has huge (12 inches) white flowers that look fantastic against the background of green foliage.

The next fabulous variety is Magnolia Susan. The color of the flowers is bright pink. Its petals stretch upwards, which creates a unique impression.

Among the yellow varieties should be noted Magnolia Butterflies. I’ve already talked about it above. This is a very popular magnolia with beautiful lemon color petals.

One of the darkest varieties is Magnolia Black Tulip. It has a dark purple (burgundy) color. The petals are wide and short, the flower resembles a tulip or rose. The diameter of the flower is 7-8 inches.

And in the end, I want to present the most exotic variety – Magnolia Blue Opal. As the name implies, it has blue flowers, yellow in the center. In my opinion, this is one of the best varieties.

Now, we can confidently say that Magnolia is the absolute leader in the number of available colors; Cherry Blossom is inferior in this.

The Cherry Blossom almost hasn’t a fragrance

The next difference between Magnolia and Cherry Blossom is the smell.

Flowering cherry has almost no scent. Some claim that these are very fragrant plants, but this is not true. If you bring the Cherry Blossom flower to your nose, you will be able to feel only a faint aroma.

Only in the presence of a large number of Cherry Blossoms trees in the air becomes noticeable the smell of these plants, but not everyone will be able to distinguish it so delicate it is.

On the other hand, Magnolia flowers are very fragrant. Of course, there may be some plants with a more pungent odor, but still, the smell of magnolias is very noticeable.

One of the most fragrant is Magnolia champaca. It has a robust aroma, which can be felt at a considerable distance. Insects fight with each other to get to the flower and taste its juice. Another feature of this variety is the unusual orange color of the flowers.

Another name for this plant is Joy Perfume Tree. This tree is used to extract material for creating expensive perfumes.

Breeders have also created a hybrid called Magnolia x Alba ‘Golden’. It has yellow flowers with thin and long petals. This is a very fragrant plant and is extremely popular among collectors.

If you like flowers with a scent, you should prefer magnolias because they are much more fragrant than flowering cherries.

Magnolia is a hardier

Cherry Blossom can be cultivated in hardiness zones 5 to 8. Some varieties can withstand the hot climate of zone 9. This means that these plants can be grown in most of the United States.

On the other hand, magnolias can tolerate a much wider range of climatic conditions. Of course, not all species can withstand the same temperatures. Some can be grown in the north, but they will not grow in the south, and some vice versa.

One of the most frost-resistant is Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata). It can be grown in 4-8 USDA zones, i.e., in the northern United States.

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) is another hardy magnolia. Some of its varieties can grow in zone 4 and some in 9 through zone 6.

Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is not as hardy as its previous two. It feels best in 7-9 climatic zones. Its feature is the size of flowers; they are almost the largest among magnolias.

Champaca Magnolia is perfect for the southern United States. In addition to extreme fragrant flowers, it can tolerate the heat of 10-12 hardiness zones.

Magnolia is a much more hardy plant than Cherry Blossom. You can find varieties for both the warm climate of Florida and the hard frosts of Minnesota. The exception maybe Alaska.

They have different sizes and shapes

Cherry Blossom can reach a height of 50 feet (15 m) and a slightly smaller width. These plants have a classic tree shape, i.e., they have a central trunk from which grows all the lateral branches.

The canopy of flowering cherries can be as wide as the height of the tree. These plants do not grow in the shape of a bush or column.

Of course, there are exceptions to any rule. Among the flowering cherries are dwarf varieties, such as Prunus incisa ‘Rinpo’. In maturity, it reaches a height of 9 feet (3 m) and has the shape of a small elongated tree.

At the same time, magnolia has a different shape and size. It can be both dwarf and giant, which means that some magnolias are much larger than Cherry Blossom.

Let’s take Magnolia grandiflora. First of all, it has a pyramidal shape. It is 20 feet wide and can exceed 70 feet in height. In the wild, there are even larger specimens.

Another example is the Magnolia virginiana. These trees have a wider shape, and often its trunk is branched. The height can be significant (100 feet).

There are also dwarf varieties of magnolias whose height does not exceed 4 feet (1.2 m). They usually grow in the form of a bush.

The colder the climate, the smaller the magnolias. This does not apply to all species, but the trend is visible.

A small advantage of Cherry blossom is the presence of a weeping shape. Prunus pendula (Weeping Cherry) is a beautiful and unusual tree with a fabulous appearance in spring.

Magnolia and Cherry Blossom have different foliage

First of all, magnolia leaves are much larger than Cherry blossom leaves. Some species’ leaf length can reach 10 inches (25 cm) and the width of 8 inches (20 cm).

Another feature of the leaves of some species is the color of the underside of the leaf. Such leaves are called double-hued foliage.

For example, Little Gem Magnolia has a glossy green leaf top and a brown bottom. Due to this, magnolias are even more decorative compared to Cherry blossoms.

Magnolias are both deciduous and evergreen. For example, Southern Magnolia or Champaca Magnolia are evergreen plants, and you can admire their foliage even in winter.

However, it is necessary to clarify here. Some evergreen magnolias can drop leaves if they grow in the northern United States, where the climate is harsher.

Cherry blossom leaves are not very decorative. Their size is 2-3 inches, and from a distance, they are difficult to distinguish. They are mostly green; some varieties may have dark burgundy leaves, which gives them a certain decorative effect.

Almost all Cherry blossoms are deciduous trees. There are several evergreen sakura, such as Carolina Cherry-laurel (Prunus caroliniana). However, their flowers are inconspicuous and small, so they can not be compared with magnolias.

In general, magnolia leaves are much more decorative, so in this regard, Cherry blossom loses magnolias completely.

Igor Viznyy

Hi friends, I have been growing plants for many years and love doing it. You can find more information on the page About Author.

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