The magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) should be planted in a place where the lower branches can grow to the ground. It drops its leaves in the fall and in the spring. Magnolia trees thrive in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 9 and are evergreen. Depending on the cultivar, the magnolia grows at a slow to moderate pace. It prefers sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
Look at the size of the tree. Mature magnolias grow from 40 to 80 feet in height and have a spread of 30 to 40 feet.
Check the leaves---leaves range from 5 to 10 inches in length and alternate on the twig. The evergreen leaves are dark green and leathery. The bottom of the leaves are usually cinnamon-brown.
Notice the tree's environment. Magnolias prefer some sun, but not full sun. Full sun is six or more hours of continuous sunlight per day. In the magnolia's southern climate, you will find them planted where they get all morning sun and partial sun in the afternoon. The tree gives off a lot of shade, as the large leaves grow close together.
Look at the flowers if the tree is in bloom. The magnolia produces large, white flowers that range from 8 to 12 inches wide. The flowers are very fragrant and last throughout the summer. In the fall, the flowers drop and the magnolia produces bright red seeds.