Skip to Content

Sweetbay Magnolia Trees Are True Magnets For Butterflies And Will Bring Other Benefits To Your Yard 

Sweetbay Magnolia Trees Are True Magnets For Butterflies And Will Bring Other Benefits To Your Yard 

Sharing is caring!

What’s prettier than a magnolia tree in full bloom? More magnolias! These plants look absolutely breathtaking and, in my humble opinion, nothing can compare to them. 

I’m sure you’ve already heard of the southern magnolia, and that’s definitely the most popular species. But there’s one variety that deserves even more attention!

I present to you the Sweetbay magnolia, a lovely specimen renowned for its fragrant cream and white blooms and glossy green foliage. 

But beauty isn’t the only reason why you would want to add this tree to your yard. Did you know that:

Sweetbay Magnolias And Butterflies Are A Match Made In Heaven!

I’ll start with the first and most important benefit of Sweetbay magnolias: attracting butterflies. You may be wondering why that’s surprising since butterflies love all magnolias, so how is this one different?

Well, they aren’t into flowers! Yes, you read that right. These trees are among the oldest in the world. The primary pollinators 100 million years ago were actually beetles. Nowadays, bees and butterflies have taken over that job.

And now the main question: why do we see so many butterflies on Sweetbay magnolias? Because they’re into leaves! This especially refers to the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly species

What I find most surprising is that magnolia leaves contain chemicals and many creatures won’t come near them. That isn’t the case with these butterflies, and they won’t be affected by chemicals in any way.

But the story doesn’t end there. There’s another creature that prefers Sweetbay magnolias as host trees. 

The Sweetbay silkmoth is a type of yellow-orange moth that is found in the coastal region of southern Virginia to Florida and southeastern Louisiana. Believe it or not, the Sweetbay magnolia is the exclusive host for these species!

Similarly to swallowtail butterflies, these moths aren’t sensitive to chemicals found in magnolia leaves. 

Swallowtails do receive more attention than silkmoths but I think they both look captivating! 

But That’s Not All!

Can it get any better? With Sweetbay magnolias, yes! They produce seeds and are hosts to caterpillars, which means only one thing: birds will also stop by.

Interestingly, birds aren’t into swallowtail butterflies, but rather moth caterpillars. They’re full of proteins and will become an excellent food source for birds during the nesting season. Attracting cardinals, mockingbirds, and bluejays to your yard becomes easier than ever!

Other birds, such as robins and mockingbirds, will make nests using twigs and leaves from this spectacular tree. 

If you’re a beginner gardener, Sweetbay magnolia is perfect for you because it takes very little to thrive. Conditions found in USDA zones 5 through 9 are ideal for these magnolias. 

You can either grow them in full sun or partial shade, and you should ensure damp soil. I don’t spend a lot of time pruning my Sweetbay magnolia except for removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches

These magnolias aren’t sensitive to pests and diseases and you can grow them in pots. And I have to tell you that this is a pretty rare ability of blooming trees!

If you live in colder zones, you can grow Sweetbay magnolia cultivars that are more tolerant to low temperatures.

Are you ready to use all the benefits Sweetbay magnolias offer? Your yard and all the beneficial creatures will thank you!