Sweet Thing ® Magnolia

Magnolia virginiana var. australis

Sweet Thing ® is a very tough dwarf evergreen Sweetbay Magnolia. Those responsible for this new cultivar are George Dodson of Sleepy Hollow Nursery and Fernando Campbell Boyd III of Boyd Nursery Company. The original Sweet Thing ® was discovered by George Dodson in a block of seedlings that were planted in 1990 at Sleepy Hollow Nursery. It was obvious when the plant was just about 3 years old that it was very special. After watching other Magnolia virginiana var. australis trees in the same block for years, they began to get 8, 10, and then 15 feet in height, but there continued to be one, very compact, dense-looking, evergreen tree that was less than a third the size of the others. After watching the unique little tree for years, and having no name for the new plant, Joe Fore, a landscaper from East Tennessee, was touring the farm in the late 90’s and was shown the new tree. George told Joe that the name needed to contain the words ‘sweet’ or ‘bay’—since the unnamed Magnolia was a Sweetbay Magnolia. Out of the blue, Joe suggested the name ‘Sweet Thing’, and the name stuck. Campbell Boyd perfected its propagation technique and now it can be grown as a substitute for Holly and Laurel hedges. It can be used in mass plantings, as a large evergreen foundation plant, or as a specimen or corner plant.

Encyclopedic Entry

According to Boyd Nursery Company, Inc. & Sleepy Hollow Nursery ...


  • Common Name:
    Sweet Thing ® Magnolia
  • Type:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
  • Family-Genus-Species:
    Magnoliaceae Magnolia virginiana var. australis
  • Sun Requirements:
    Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Flowers:
    Flowers are short-lived, but produced over a long period, from early to late summer, and are highly scented of lemon. They are cup-shaped at first, opening to a broad saucer.
  • Leaves:
    Leaves are ovate in shape, up to 4.75 inches long and 2.5 inches wide. They are deep lustrous green above, and blue-white and downy beneath, especially when young.
  • Hardiness:
    Zone 5 to 9. For an idea of your plant zone please visit the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
  • Habit:
    Small, multi-stemmed, evergreen shrub of compact, upright spreading habit, eventually forming a shrub-like tree.
  • Size:
    Approximately 20 feet in height at maturity and 10 feet wide
  • Rate:
    Slow to medium; with water and fertilizer a fast grower.
  • Soil Preference:
    Soil should be well drained. Tolerates high soil moisture levels and does tolerate inundation. Plant tolerates any soil type.
  • Fertilization:
    Fertilize an area three times the canopy spread of the tree 1 to 2 times a year with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Only fertilize an established tree.
  • Patent Number:
    PP17814
  • Diseases & Insects:
    Essentially problem free
  • Landscape Value:
    It is an ideal evergreen foundation plant and can also live in large pots on patios with no protection. As further proof of its hardiness, Sweet Thing ® roots have been exposed to -10 degrees Fahrenheit when left outside in pots over the winter–with absolutely no damage. It is a strong growing, versatile and tough plant.
  • Planting Instructions:
    Dig a hole three times the diameter of the root system, with a depth no deeper than the original soil line on trunk. Break up the soil to the finest consistency possible. Place plant in hole and fill, compacting the fill dirt. Water the plant heavily to seal soil around the roots and remove air pockets. Water well, and remember to water regularly until they have started to grow.

Photo Gallery

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Where can the Sweet Thing ® be purchased?


Boyd Nursery Company, Inc.

As one of the two nurseries responsible for discovery of the Sweet Thing ®, Boyd Nursery Company has been family owned since 1887. Boyd Nursery Company has both wholesale quantities and retail packages of Sweet Thing ® Magnolias available. Retail packages of 5, 10, and 40+ plants are availabe for $35, $60, and $5.25/plant respectively.

Sleepy Hollow Nursery

Specializing in broadleaf evergreens and local landscaping, Sleepy Hollow Nursery began in 1976 and is currently operated by George Dodson. Sleepy Hollow Nursery currently has wholesale quantities of the Sweet Thing ® available for sale. They can be contacted here.

Pleasant Run Nursery

Pleasant Run Nursery has wholesale quantities of the Sweet Thing ® available. Started in 1998, Pleasant Run Nursery has a unique focus for producing "hard-to-find and cutting-edge plants." Their contact information can be found here.

Highlandbrook Nursery LLC

Highlandbrook Nursery is located in Elkton, Kentucky. As both a landscaping and nursery business, Highlandbrook Nursery has Sweet Thing ® Magnolias available in wholesale quantities. Visit their Facebook page for contact information.

Walker Nursery

Walker Nursery Company is a recent addition to our list of Sweet Thing ® Magnolia providers. With both a wholesale and retail presence, Walker Nursery Company was founded during the 1950's. Their contact information can be found here.