Pink magnolia trees: the top choices for every garden

From blush tones to bolder shades, these pink magnolia trees will introduce pretty flowers and eye-catching color to any backyard

pink magnolia trees - 'Galaxy' magnolia in bloom
(Image credit: Nick Kurzenko/Alamy Stock Photo)

Some of the most impressive of all magnolias are pink magnolia trees. They include the most stunning colorful flowering trees and shrubs that we can grow – wherever we live. What they all have in common is there is their large exotic-looking, and often fragrant, flowers.

Some mature into tall and impressive trees, while others remain as neat and twiggy bushes. They can be slow-growing or can race to maturity, make fine specimens and focal points or prolific container subjects. Some are hardy in USDA zone 4, others need almost tropical conditions to thrive and are happiest in zone 9.

Flowers on magnolia trees range from just an inch or two across to 12in (30cm) or more and with anything from six petals to forty.

Of course it is their flowers that are the chief glory of pink magnolia trees. They range in tone, and some of the most striking are bicolored varieties, with the outside of the flowers darker than the inside. 

Introduce pretty colors with these 10 pink magnolia trees

There are magnolias in just about every shade of pink you can imagine, which makes them one of the best flowering trees. A faintly blushed white magnolia is a lovely choice. Then they range through richer pink tones, to deep and sultry shades and the most striking create a delightful bicolored effect with the outside of the petals darker than the inside. All are deciduous.

Some say that if we could grow just one shrub, out of the many thousands we can choose, it should be a pink flowered magnolia. The trick, however, is choosing the right pink magnolia trees for the right place in your plot.

1. 'Betty' Magnolia

close of a flower on a Magnolia 'Betty'

(Image credit: Shapencolour/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: Large shrub or small multi-stemmed tree
  • Color guide: Blushed white inside, pinkish purple outside
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-7 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 10-15ft (3-4.5m) 
  • Spread: 15-20ft (4.5-6m)

If you're searching for the best trees for small gardens, ‘Betty’ makes an attractively rounded plant that can either be grown as a large and spreading shrub or as a small multi-stemmed tree. It is one of the most winter hardy of all magnolias and, flowering a little later than some similar varieties, often escapes its flowers being frosted.

The flowers each have about 20 petals, and open to 8-10in (20-30cm) across in mid spring. They are white on the inside, rosy at the base, pinkish purple on the outside darkening towards the tips.

One of the best of the invaluable Girls Series, look out too for the ‘Jane’ (although this is more red than pink) and ‘Ann’. Grow in full sun and well-drained soil.

2. 'Caerhays Belle' Magnolia

close up of the pink flowers on a Magnolia 'Caerhays Belle'

(Image credit: NZ Collection/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Color guide: Salmon pink with darker streaks
  • Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H5) 
  • Height: 20-40ft (6-12m) 
  • Spread: 15-25ft (4.5-7.5m)

This small to medium sized pink magnolia tree develops a relatively narrow, upright or pyramidal shape so it will not spread and cast more shade than you need in your garden borders.

Flowering in early spring, each bloom reaches about 12in (30cm) across and is made up of a dozen spoon-shaped petals making the blooms seem much more substantial than flowers of many other varieties. Also, the flowers face slightly outwards, rather than upwards, and show themselves off especially well.

The petals are salmon pink on the outside, paler on the inside, and are followed in the fall by long, nobly, pink fruits.

Grow in full sun and well-drained soil.

3. 'Daybreak' Magnolia

close up of the pink flower of a Magnolia 'Daybreak'

(Image credit: John Richmond/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: Small to medium-sized, upright tree
  • Color guide: Super scented rosy pink
  • Hardiness: USDA 5-8 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 15-40ft (4.5-12m) 
  • Spread: 3.5-8ft (2.5-5m)

One of the best backyard trees, this is often considered as one of the finest of all pink magnolias. It's a neat tree with upright growth sometimes described by nurseries as 'fastigiate' in listings – this means with erect branches close growing together.

In mid-spring a huge profusion of exceptionally fragrant flowers opens, each 9-10in (23-25cm) flower is rosy pink, tinted faintly in green at first, and a little darker on the outside and paler on the inside. Unlike the flowers of some magnolias, the first flowers appear on quite young plants.

‘Daybreak’ has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic. Grow in full sun and well-drained soil.

4. 'Galaxy' Magnolia

'Galaxy' Magnolia in bloom

(Image credit: Nick Kurzenko/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: A small, elegant single-stemmed tree
  • Color guide: Pinkish purple, paler within
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-8 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 25-30ft (7.5-9m) 
  • Spread: 20-25ft (6-7.5m) 

Pink magnolia trees also make good options as trees for front yards. Quick to develop after planting, ‘Galaxy’ becomes a small, single stemmed tree that broadens out as it matures.

From reddish purple buds, paler flowers develop – paler still on the inside, with a light fragrance – that open in mid-spring and reach 8-10in (23-25cm) across. The flowers usually open late enough to avoid being frosted.

Another variety that will give a quick return as it flowers well on relatively young plants, ‘Galaxy’ is also more adaptable than many pink magnolias, doing well on poor soils.

Grow in full sun and well-drained soil.

5. 'Leonard Messel' Magnolia

pink flowers of 'Leonard Messel' magnolia

(Image credit: Shapencolour/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: A medium to large rounded shrub
  • Color guide: Deep pink, almost white within
  • Hardiness: USDA 5-9 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 15-30ft (4.5-9m) 
  • Spread: 20-25ft (6-7.5m)

A splendidly prolific shrub, ‘Leonard Messel’ becomes increasingly dome-shaped as it matures.

A stunning addition to any garden color scheme, the buds are purple, opening in early spring to fragrant, deep lilac pink flowers about 4-5in (10-12cm) across that are noticeably paler on the insides and so provide a harmonious blend of shades that is especially striking against a blue sky.

The flowers of ‘Leonard Messel’ are more frost-resistant than those of most other magnolias. Look out too for the blushed white, sweet scented Magnolia x loebneri ‘White Rose’.

Grow in full sun and well-drained soil.

6. Sargent's Magnolia (Magnolia Sargentiana Var. Robusta)

Flowers on a Sargent's magnolia, also known as magnolia sargentiana

(Image credit: Julia Gavin/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: Widely spreading large shrub or small tree
  • Color guide: Rich rose flowers, darkening at the base
  • Hardiness: USDA 7-9(UK H4) 
  • Height: 20-40ft (6-12m) 
  • Spread: 20-40ft (6-12m)

One of the most spectacular of all pink magnolia trees, this variety would make a pretty addition to any spring garden scheme. Its prolific display of unusually large flowers can weigh down the branches.

Eventually developing into a large shrub or small, multi-stemmed tree, in mid-spring the big and blowsy 10-2in (25-30cm) flowers, like huge water lilies, open in rich sugary pink on the outside with the insides being almost white. They are sometimes followed by dark red cylindrical fruits. The variety ‘Blood Moon’ has flowers in a richer pink.

Grow in full sun and rich soil. It will need shelter from gales, so consider planting it near a garden wall or fence where it will have some protection.

7. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia X Soulangeana)

close up of flower on Magnolia soulangeana 'Alexandrina'

Magnolia soulangeana 'Alexandrina'

(Image credit: Anna Gratys/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: A widely spreading, multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree
  • Color guide: Many pink shades, plus white and darker tones
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 10-40ft (3-12m) 
  • Spread: 6-45ft (2-14m)

The most popular of all pink magnolia trees, the dramatic profusion of flowers is balanced by the tendency for them to be damaged by frost in some areas.

Making an upright plant at first, but then branching repeatedly to create a widely spreading shrub, plants also develop attractive grey bark as they mature. The goblet-shaped flowers stand up from the branches and come in a wide variety of pink shades but may be frosted in some areas.

Look for the varieties ‘Alexandrina’ (pale pink at the tips, darker at the base), and the unusually compact ‘Lennei’ (deep pink outside, white inside).

Grow in full sun and well-drained soil.

8. 'Diva' Magnolia (Magnolia Sprengeri 'Diva')

pink flower of 'Diva' Magnolia, also known as Magnolia Sprengeri 'Diva'

(Image credit: Deborah Vernon/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: A broadly spreading large shrub or small to medium-sized tree
  • Color guide: Deep pink on the outside, paler inside
  • Hardiness: USDA 5-8 (UK H6) 
  • Height: 20-50ft (6-15m) 
  • Spread: 10-30ft (3-9m)

As with many magnolias, ‘Diva’ has relatively upright growth in its early years, then broadens with age to become a large spreading shrub or small to medium-sized broadly spreading tree.

Ideal for sensory gardens thanks to its strong scent, the 6-8in (15-20cm) flowers become more or less saucer shaped and rich pink on the outside, and paler on the inside with dark streaks.

Look out too for Magnolia sprengeri ‘Copeland Court’ in a sharper pink with deeper tints.

Best in full sun, but grows more happily in damp soil types than many magnolias. 

9. 'Star Wars' Magnolia

'Star Wars' magnolia in full bloom

(Image credit: Florapix/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: A large shrub or small tree, a little wider than high
  • Color guide: Soft pink, paler within
  • Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H5) 
  • Height: 10-15ft (3-4.5m) 
  • Spread: 15-20ft (4.5-6m) 

One of the most spectacular pink magnolia trees, making a large, broadly pyramidal shrub or small tree.

Flowering in early spring when the plants are covered in 11in (28cm) wide fragrant flowers that open from deep pink buds and whose petals are pale pink, deeper pink at the base, and pale within. The outer petals are rolled to give a distinctive spiky look, a little like an old fashioned satellite. Flowers for the first time on unusually young trees.

Grow in full sun or partial shade with good drainage.

10. Star Magnolia (Magnolia Stellata)

close up of pink flower on Magnolia Stellata 'Jane Platt'

Magnolia Stellata 'Jane Platt'

(Image credit: John Martin/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Growth guide: Slow growing, multi-branched rounded shrub
  • Color guide: Many shades of pink
  • Hardiness: USDA 4-9(UK H6) 
  • Height: 3-10ft (1-3m) 
  • Spread: 3-10ft (1-3m)

Enormously popular, reliable and flowering when still a young plant, Magnolia stellata is a favorite across the country and is ideal for patio gardening ideas when grown in containers. 

It makes slow-growing, but hardy, well-branched shrubs that are top choices for small gardens. In early spring the plants are covered in 4in (10cm) flowers with up to 30 slender petals in paler shades of pink (and also white).

Look for the varieties ‘Jane Platt’ (deeper rosy pink on the backs), with about 30 petals and the more vigorous ‘Centennial’ (blushed white).

Do pink magnolia trees get really big? 

If you're worried that your pink magnolia will grow too big for your backyard, the first thing is to choose a dwarf variety that will never ever take over. The ‘Jane Platt’ magnolia is ideal as are most of the Girls Series, especially ‘Ann’ or ‘Betty’.

It's also worth remembering that magnolias can be pruned to keep them to a manageable size. This is best done in mid-summer and the most natural effect can be achieved by removing recent growth, just above a lower side shoot (or fork) on the same branch. 

It can be difficult to judge exactly where to cut in summer when the tree is in full leaf. But you can also look over the tree in winter and mark the places where cuts are needed with a tie of twine.

close up of pink flower on Magnolia 'Ann'

Magnolia 'Ann'

(Image credit: Botanic World/Alamy Stock Photo)

Which is the best pink magnolia for a patio container?

Just like many of the best trees to grow in pots, the top pink magnolia trees for containers are varieties that are not too vigorous and that will stand a little drought if you forget to water them.

Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) makes an excellent choice for container gardening ideas, and good pink flowered varieties (palest first) include ‘Encore’ and ‘Royal Star’ in blushed white, ‘Rosea’ in pale pink, while ‘Jane Platt’ has double pink flowers.

Others to consider are ‘Ann’, in reddish pink and white, and ‘Betty’, in pinkish purple and white.

Pink star magnolia (Magnolia stellata Rosea)

Pink star magnolia (Magnolia stellata Rosea)

(Image credit: Panther Media GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo)

Is there are a pink-flowered Southern magnolia tree I can grow in the south of the US?

Sadly, there are no pink flowered varieties of the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), or of the sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana). However, in recent years a new variety, the 'Fairy Blush' magnolia, has arrived.

Hardy in zones 7-11, with small, evergreen foliage and flowering well on young plants, Fairy Blush opens its lightly scented, lilac-pink blooms in spring all along its branches, and not only at the tips. The blooms age to white as they mature and more flowers often open later in the season.

Ideal in a garden planter where it can be moved to a sheltered place in the winter if necessary.

close up of pink magnolia 'Fairy Blush'

Magnolia 'Fairy Blush'

(Image credit: John Richmond/Alamy Stock Photo)
Graham Rice
Freelance writer

Graham Rice is a garden writer who has won awards for his work online, and in books and magazines, on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a member of a number of Royal Horticultural Society committees and the recipient of the 2021 Garden Media Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.