11 Different Types of Bright Yellow Magnolia Tree Varieties

Thinking of adding some yellow flowering magnolia trees to your garden this season? There are a few different options to choose from, depending on your hardiness zone. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss looks at some of the most popular yellow flowering magnolia trees.

yellow magnolias

Contents

Yellow is the color of happiness, of sunshine, and of lemons and sweet golden honey. The color evokes joy and freshness, and brings cheer to the end of a cold, gray winter.

It’s no wonder that the quest to breed yellow magnolia trees has been such a fervent one among such a reputable source as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which has made it a mission to breed some of the most beautiful, cold hardy varieties of yellow magnolias in the world.

These lovely, elegant trees bring a nuanced grace to the world of deciduous magnolia trees with their creamy, divine blossoms, graceful branches and stunning foliage, and have found their way into the hearts of many gardeners.

They are among some of the most cold hardy varieties of deciduous magnolias, with many blooming at the end of spring, making them virtually impervious to cold damage. Here are 11 varieties of resplendent golden magnolias for your reading and viewing pleasure.

‘Butterflies’

Close-up of a blooming Magnolia 'Butterflies' branch in a spring garden. The flowers are large, cup-shaped, consist of rounded elongated canary-yellow petals with a green thicket and golden stamens in the center.
Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ produces delightful canary yellow flowers with a lemon scent.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia ‘Butterflies’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height 25’-30’ tall and 10’-15’ wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

The Butterflies variety is a hybrid between M. acuminata and M. denudata. It is a medium sized, deciduous tree with an upright, pyramidal growth habit, so it fits nicely into smaller spaces. Butterflies is hardy and tolerates city living well. Its late blooming habit makes it more resistant to frost than earlier blooming varieties.

Butterflies puts on a gorgeous show in mid to late spring. The blooms are upright, and tulip shaped with a double petal form.

The color is canary yellow, with a softer yellow carpel and pinkish stamens in the center. These wonderful flowers have a sweet and fruity smell, often described as lemony, which befits their sunny yellow petals.

‘Elizabeth’

Close-up of magnolia elizabeth on a blurred green background. A large goblet-shaped flower with elongated oval petals of oily yellow color. The leaves are small, oval, light green.
This vareity is a magnolia cultivar that produces pale yellow flowers with dark green foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia x ‘Elizabeth’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 25’-40’ tall and 12’-20’ wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Elizabeth is another stunning hybrid with a pyramidal growth habit. Much like Butterflies, this variety does well in urban settings, and is a mid to late spring bloomer, making it cold tolerant to zone 4. The foliage in summer is dark green and very attractive. Elizabeth makes a lovely focal point, and also looks wonderful in a Zen Garden setting.

Elizabeth’s blooms are stunning, large, fragrant, and creamy yellow. There is a small yellow carpel in the center surrounded by plentiful yellow stamens.

Elizabeth’s blooms have a hint of pink to the base of the stamens which produces a nice, warm, internal glow. This is a beautiful tree that you will want to keep close by, to enjoy its splendid flowers. Planting it near to an outdoor living space, or outside a window is a great idea.

‘Golden Pond’

Close-up of a blooming Magnolia 'Golden Pond' flower against a blurred background in a sunny garden. Cup-shaped flower of pale yellow color with oval long petals.
This variety is a late flowering variety producing large fragrant golden yellow flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia acuminata ‘Golden Pond’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height 15’-35’ tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Golden pond is a small deciduous tree or large shrub. It has an upright to spreading growth habit and stays closer to the ground than some of the others on this list.

However, it can be trained into the shape of a lovely small tree by pruning the lower branches when the plant is young. Its late blooming habit gives it excellent cold tolerance. Golden Pond is a fast-growing magnolia, reaching its mature height at around 10 years of age.

The leaves show up late on this tree, so it blooms on graceful, gray-brown branches. The fragrant, yellow blooms on this tree show up in late spring along with the first uncurling of green leaves. The foliage on this tree turns a warm golden bronze color in the fall adding to its appeal with a third season of beauty.

‘Hot Flash’

Magnolia ‘Hot Flash’
This variety is a gorgeous early-blooming yellow magnolia with a pink blush at the base.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia ‘Hot Flash’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height 20’-30’ tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

Hot Flash is another yellow flowering variety that makes a beautiful shrub as it has a low canopy and a spreading habit. As you can probably tell by now, most of these yellow hybrid magnolias were bred for one very important characteristic.

Many deciduous magnolias bloom in late winter and early spring, which makes their flowers susceptible to frost. Many of these yellow hybrids have been bred for a late blooming habit, which makes them more cold tolerant than earlier blooming types.

Hot Flash is a big bloomer. The flowers are large and a rich, golden yellow shade. They have a slight pink flush to the base, and an upright, cup shaped habit.

The eye of the flower is also pink and gives a glow from within appearance to the blossoms when they open. Hot Flash has a medium growth rate and likes full sun to part shade.

‘Ivory Chalice’

Close-up of a blooming magnolia 'Ivory Chalice' against a blue sky. The flowers are large, cup-shaped, ivory with golden stamens in the center.
This variety this showy flowering tree produces yellow, large, cupped flowers with long tepals.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia ‘Ivory Chalice’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height 30’-40’ tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

Ivory Chalice is one of the earlier blooming of the yellow magnolia varieties. As a result, it is not well suited for climate zones north of zone 5. This one needs a bit of protection from harsh freezing winds, even in warmer climates, as the flowers won’t take a battering from these winds and last for very long.

There are upsides to this tree that outweigh the potential downsides though. First, it blooms when very little else is showing signs of growth and life. It is also quite a large and dramatic tree throughout the year.

The soft yellow blooms are large, and chalice shaped with long thin tepals. They are quite fragrant, and the blooms appear before the foliage. It blooms profusely once mature, with multiple flowers at the tip of each branch, creating a dramatic focal point in the landscape.

‘Judy Zuk’

Close-up of blooming 'Judy Zuk' magnolias against a green blurred background. Golden yellow cupped flowers surrounded by oval green leaves.
‘Judy Zuk’ blooms with elegant golden yellow flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Judy Zuk’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height 20’-30’ tall and 6’-8’ wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This variety is a beautiful small tree with a narrow, upright growth habit. The shape is elegant and delicate and at only 6’-8’ wide, this variety is very versatile in placement.

The brooklynensis varieties were hybridized at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for their later blooming habit, making this another cold tolerant variety. This is a stunning specimen tree that deserves a central location where it can be admired, particularly when in bloom.

The blooms are unique on this tree. The upward facing, cup shaped flowers are a strong golden-yellow color. A flush of pinkish orange radiates from the base of the petals increasing their warmth and beauty. Named for the former president of the BBG, this is one very special tree, and deserves a special spot in the garden.

‘Solar Flair’

Close-up of a blooming branch of Magnolia ‘Solar Flair’ against a blue sunny sky. The flower is large, goblet-shaped, consists of oblong, oval, erect petals of a pale yellow color.
‘Solar Flair’ is one of the tallest varieties of yellow magnolia with greenish-yellow flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia ‘Solar Flair’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height 20’-30’ tall and 15’-20’ wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

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.

Solar Flair blooms in early spring, so it is susceptible to late frosts, it will tolerate cold weather though, and is hardy to zone 4. A bit of protection from harsh winds will increase its cold hardiness.

The flowers on this variety are a greenish-yellow, chartreuse color, just a shade or two lighter than its bright green leaves. At the base of the blooms, a rosy, pink glow compliments the green tones, and warms the flowers up just a bit. This tree is tolerant of pollution, so it can endure city living better than some more vulnerable specimens.

‘Sunsation’

Close-up of a blooming magnolia tree in a sunny spring garden. Large, cup-shaped, golden yellow flowers with a purple base and purple veins. The leaves are simple, light green, oval, smooth.
‘Sunsation’ is a yellow magnolia variety with golden yellow flowers with a purple base.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia ‘Sunsation’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height 20’-25’ tall and 6’-8’ wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This sensational variety has a number of virtues to extoll! Its upright, narrow growth habit makes it versatile in terms of planting space. It fits well in narrow spaces and also grows to quite a nice height. Its late blooming habit makes it cold hardy and protects the blooms from late frost. And the blooms are worth protecting.

Sunsation’s flowers are large (7”), tulip shaped, and golden yellow with a purple tinged base and purple veining. The foliage is bright green, and the leaves have an ovate shape, making for a very pretty tree with and without the blooms.

The rosy tint that runs through these fragrant, golden blossoms sets this tree apart and makes it highly recognizable,

‘Yellow Bird’

Close-up of a blooming magnolia flower on a tree against a blue sky. The flower is large, lemon-yellow in color, consists of 6 thin long petals. The leaves are dark green, oval, large.
‘Yellow Bird’ produces profuse lemon-yellow glass-shaped flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Yellow Bird’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 40’ tall and 25’ wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

This bright and cheerful bloomer was also bred at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It has a nice pyramidal growth habit and makes a beautiful front yard addition. Yellow Bird is a large tree at maturity, reaching up to 40’ tall.

This hybrid is a cross between M. acuminata var. subcordata and M. x brooklynensis ‘Evamaria’ and is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful among the yellow magnolia varieties. With its size and brilliant blooms, this tree brings all the drama when it blooms in late spring.

Yellow Bird’s blooms are small but bountiful, and a perfect, deep, lemony yellow shade. The blooms are upright, and goblet or chalice shaped, each with 6 slender tepals.

Each bloom can last up to 3 weeks on the tree, but these beauties made wonderful, long lasting cut flowers as well. As if the flowers were not special enough, this variety has foliage that turns golden bronze in the fall, for an additional season of interest.

‘Yellow Fever’

Blooming magnolia tree ‘Yellow Fever’ in the spring garden against the backdrop of trees. Crisp soft yellow flowers bloom on bare branches. The flowers are cup-shaped, large, have oval elongated petals.
‘Yellow Fever’ produces beautiful soft yellow flowers in late spring.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia x ‘Yellow Fever’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height about 20’ tall and 10’-20’ wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

This variety is another hybrid of M. acuminata, this time crossed with M. denudata. This late season bloomer has great cold tolerance. Yellow Fever is a nice small tree, it can grow upwards to 40’ tall, but this is not the average. In general, it is a small, shrubby specimen that tends to spread quite a bit once it reaches its final height.

This carefully curated variety has lovely blooms that appear in late spring. Soft yellow buds open to reveal creamy ivory-colored petals, with a pink glow to the base of the petals and faint pink veining.

The blooms on Yellow Fever are highly prized for their strong fragrance. The leaves are large and brilliant green in spring, deepening in color into the summer months.

‘Yellow River’

Close-up of two blooming 'Yellow River' magnolia flowers against a blue sky. Large, lilac-shaped flowers of pale yellow color, consist of oval petals with golden veins.
‘Yellow River’ is a late flowering deciduous magnolia tree that produces elegant lily-shaped flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Magnolia denudata ‘Yellow River’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
height height 10’-15’ tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

The denudata species of magnolia, also called Yulan, or Lily Tree, is a truly beautiful species originating in China. It is a small deciduous tree known for its elegant lily shaped blooms, and excellent cold tolerance, due to its late blooming habit.

It is these characteristics that have led to its use in creating hybrid varieties of many other species, to encourage this later blooming habit, thus protecting the flowers and foliage from cold weather. Yellow River is a small magnolia, and makes a beautiful shrub, it can also be pruned into a lovely small tree and looks stunning in a row, edging a long drive or path.

Yellow River, also known as “Fei Huang,” has large flowers in contrast to the size of the plant. These buttery yellow blooms appear in late spring and bring a sweet, delightful fragrance with them. The flowers are lily shaped and graceful, with a small,  green carpel surrounded by hearty, yellow stamens in the center.

Final Thoughts

These beautiful trees bring beauty and cheer to a wide range of climates and landscapes. With their buttery blooms and heavenly scents, yellow magnolias are a dazzling example of how this wonderful family of plants can be both wonderfully traditional, and sweetly surprising at the same time. If you don’t have enough space, you can always opt for a dwarf magnolia variety which will be more compact.

Magnolia trees are a long-time beloved tree in many countries and regions. Their amazing blooms are unrivaled in the world of flowering trees and with such a wide range of species, they can fit into nearly any landscape. These varieties of yellow magnolias are the sweet frosting on the magnolia cake and will bring joy to your garden with their cheerful springtime show.

SHARE THIS POST
Bradford pear alternative redbud tree blooming with pink flowers

Trees

17 Trees You Can Plant Instead of Bradford Pears

Are you looking for some trees to plant instead of growing Bradford Pear trees in your garden or home landscape? There are many different options, depending on your hardiness zone. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen shares her favorite trees you can plant instead of growing the infamously invasive Bradford Pear tree.

Close up of a white flower of a Magnolia Tree

Plant Problems

11 Common Problems With Magnolia Trees

Are your magnolia trees looking a little worse for wear? There can be a number of different issues that you run into with these popular trees. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss looks at the most common problems you'll run into when growing magnolia trees.

Large pink dinnerplate dahila flower growing in garden

Flowers

21 Plants with Massive Blooming Flowers

Are you looking for a few plants with massive flowers to add to your garden this season? There are many different plants that have enormous blooms that you'll love. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago shares some of her favorite plants that will bring extremely large flowers to your garden!

pink magnolia tree varieties

Trees

11 Different Types of Pink Flowering Magnolia Tree Varieties

Looking for a magnolia tree with pink blooms to add to your garden or home landscape? There are many different types of magnolia trees that have beautiful pink blossoms. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss takes a deeper look at some of the most popular pink flowering magnolia trees you can grow.

purple magnolia trees

Shrubs

9 Different Types of Purple Flowering Magnolia Tree Varieties

Are you looking for a magnolia that blooms in beautiful shades of purple? There are plenty of different magnolias that bloom in all shades of purple, from light lavender to deep purple. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss looks at her favorite magnolias with purple blooms.

Two tree canopies with burnished orange and golden yellow leaves intersect under a blue sky.

Trees

21 Trees With Spectacular Fall Color

Do you want to add color to your autumn garden but aren’t quite sure where to start? Many deciduous trees create massive amounts of color in autumn with very little maintenance. Here, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares 21 of her favorite trees for maximum fall color.