Demystifying the Growth Rate of the Stunning Yellow Magnolia Tree

You may also hear this tree called a yellow tulip tree. It is a hybrid species that was created by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) in 1981. This flowering tree is the result of a backcross of M. acuminata var. subcordata and another hybrid developed by BBG, Magnolia × brooklynensis ‘Evamaria. ’ Genetics aside, what you need to know is that this magnolia tree is stunning in the spring.

The yellow bird magnolia can grow in a wide range of climates and needs at least some sun, but full sun is best. Water it deeply and ensure that the soil is acidic and well-draining for optimal health and blooming activity.

The yellow magnolia tree, with its bursts of bright blooms in spring, is truly one of the most beautiful ornamental trees you can grow. While this tree brings ample rewards in terms of visual appeal and fragrance when it flowers, it does take some time to reach its mature size. If you’re considering adding a yellow magnolia to your landscape, it’s helpful to understand exactly how fast this tree grows.

An Overview of Yellow Magnolia Varieties

There are a few different varieties of yellow magnolia trees The yellow bird magnolia (Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Yellow Bird’) is probably the most popular, It was specially cultivated by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to produce plentiful yellow blooms in late spring after the threat of frost has passed

Another stunning variety is the yellow lantern magnolia (Magnolia acuminata ‘Yellow Lantern’). It bears 5-inch yellow flowers in early to mid spring. The saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) also comes in a yellow variety that typically blooms in March or April with cup-shaped yellow blossoms up to 10 inches wide.

What Factors Impact Growth Rate?

The growth rate of any tree including a yellow magnolia, depends on a combination of factors. These include

  • Age of the tree – Young trees grow more quickly as they establish roots and gain height. Growth slows down as trees mature.

  • Species – Some magnolia species and cultivated varieties grow faster than others.

  • Growing conditions – Access to ample sunlight, water, nutrients, and well-draining soil enables optimal growth.

  • Pruning and training – Regular pruning encourages dense growth for some trees. Training a central leader prompts upward growth.

  • Climate – Mild winters and long warm seasons are more conducive to fast tree growth.

With the right conditions, magnolias can gain several feet of height each year when young. But growth inevitably slows with age.

The Growth Pattern of Yellow Magnolia Trees

In ideal growing conditions, a yellow magnolia tree grows at a medium rate. Here’s what you can expect:

  • First year – A nursery tree may be 6 feet tall at planting. With sufficient water and care, it may reach 8 feet in the first year.

  • Years 2-5 – Expect roughly 2 feet of new growth per year, perhaps reaching 20 feet by year 5.

  • Years 5-10 – Growth slows to about 1-1.5 feet per year. The tree may achieve 30 feet in height by year 10.

  • Years 10+ – Mature magnolias add less than a foot of growth annually. Maximum height around 40 feet is reached in 20+ years.

So in the best case scenario, yellow magnolias take at least two decades to hit their full 40-foot potential. But after the initial rapid growth when young, gaining height slows down considerably.

Caring for Your Magnolia Tree

To encourage your yellow magnolia to grow at a healthy pace, provide for its basic needs:

  • Sunlight – Yellow magnolias thrive in full sun. In warmer climates, partial afternoon shade can prevent stress.

  • Soil – Well-drained, acidic soil amended with compost or humus enables growth.

  • Water – Water deeply 2-3 times per week while young. Reduce frequency as the tree matures.

  • Fertilizer – Apply balanced fertilizer or compost in spring after flowering.

  • Pruning – Prune crossing or damaged branches after flowering.

Meeting these care requirements will help your magnolia establish more quickly and promote sustained growth over time.

Coping With Slow Growth

If your yellow magnolia tree seems to be growing more slowly than expected, there are a few troubleshooting tips to try:

  • Test the soil pH and add amendments like compost or sulfur to lower pH if needed.

  • Check that sunlight exposure is optimal and rearrange or prune adjacent trees if they are causing too much shade.

  • Rule out root competition from nearby trees and shrubs.

  • Improve drainage if soil remains soggy or wet for days after watering or rain.

  • Apply a balanced organic fertilizer to supply nutrients if deficient.

  • Prune judiciously to encourage dense growth. But avoid overpruning, which can slow growth.

  • Consider transplanting the magnolia if the current site is unsuitable.

When Growth Rate Doesn’t Matter

Even if your yellow magnolia reaches its mature size slowly, the waiting is worthwhile. This is a long-lived tree that will provide beauty in your landscape for decades to come. So try not to get impatient with its moderate growth rate.

Instead, enjoy watching your tree transform, however gradually, from a spindly sapling into a robust, flowering specimen. Part of the pleasure of growing magnolias is bearing witness to their transition across the seasons and years.

Alternatives for Faster Growth

If you simply can’t wait for a yellow magnolia to mature, you do have some options:

  • Select a faster-growing magnolia variety like the star magnolia.

  • Plant a larger, more mature nursery tree that already has some height.

  • Consider a different but comparable small ornamental tree like a crabapple.

  • Plant your magnolia in a large container and replant in a bigger pot every few years.

But for most gardeners, the yellow magnolia’s moderate pace of growth is a small price to pay for its outstanding floral display each spring. Take the long view and before you know it, your patience will be rewarded with a gorgeous, golden-blossomed tree.


When first planted, you should plan to water yellow bird magnolia trees regularly and deeply. While the soil should be moist, beware of creating soggy soil conditions or standing water. Once the tree is established, you can reduce the frequency of watering. Water deeply when the soil is dry. Mature trees exhibit a measure of drought resistance.

Yellow Bird Magnolia Care

Here are the main care requirements for growing yellow bird magnolia:

  • Plant in a well-draining potting mix.
  • Place the plant somewhere that gets full sun or some shade, especially in places where it gets very warm.
  • Water deeply and regularly, but avoid creating soggy soil conditions.
  • Use a well-balanced fertilizer in the spring after flowering.

yellow magnolia tree growth rate

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

yellow magnolia tree growth rate

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

yellow magnolia tree growth rate

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

yellow magnolia tree growth rate

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Avoid These 5 Five Mistakes When Growing and Planting Magnolias


How fast does a yellow bird magnolia grow?

How fast do yellow bird magnolias grow? The yellow bird magnolia tree is most frequently described as having a medium growth rate.

How big does a yellow magnolia tree get?

5 – 8
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest
Spring (Early, Mid)
20′ – 30′ (6.1m – 9.1m)
12′ – 20′ (3.7m – 6.1m)

How long does it take for a magnolia tree to grow to full size?

A magnolia bush or tree is a long-term investment – they are slow growing and can take 10-20 years to reach their ultimate size. It’s therefore worth taking the time to choose the right variety for your garden. The flowers, ultimate size and the conditions in your garden will determine which magnolia you grow.

What type of magnolia tree grows the fastest?

The Southern Magnolia, with its large, waxy, fragrant white flowers and large, dark green leaves, is most associated with the Deep South. This Magnolia tree is by far one of the most popular, and one of the larger and faster-growing trees in the Magnolia family.

How fast does a yellow bird magnolia tree grow?

The yellow bird magnolia tree is most frequently described as having a medium growth rate. It grows about 2 feet per year, which means that it can take a couple of decades to reach its maximum height of 40 feet, but considering that these trees live for about 80 years, it will offer many more years of stately shade after reaching maturity.

How tall does a yellow bird Magnolia grow?

A yellow bird magnolia can grow to a height of 20 to 40 feet. Most mature trees have a canopy that starts about 5 feet from the ground. A yellow bird magnolia is a cold-hardy option for a flowering tree. It presents yellow blooms in late spring and attractive foliage through the growing season.

What are the tallest yellow magnolia trees?

‘Solar Flair’ is one of the tallest varieties of yellow magnolia with greenish-yellow flowers. This pretty tree is a hybrid of the M. x brooklynensis ‘Woodsman’ and M. ‘Gold Star’ varieties. It has a straight trunked, upright growth habit and reaches heights of up to 30’ tall, making it one of the taller yellow magnolia varieties.

How long does a yellow bird magnolia flower?

The blooms of the yellow bird magnolia typically last for about three weeks. The flower buds emerge at the same time as the tree’s foliage. Once the tree begins to flower, the buds open in rapid succession. How fast do yellow bird magnolias grow?

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