Sunday, June 13, 2010

Smaller Southern Magnolias

The grand Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) thrives here in the southern Appalachian region and along the Eastern seaboard as far north as Boston (USDA zones 6-9). Most homeowners do not have room enough to grow this 60-70 foot arboreal aristocrat.

Compact forms are available that need less than half the space. The ivory white flowers are fragrant and 25% smaller than full sized trees. Blooms open individually, not all at once, from late May thru the summer months. The most popular compact cultivar is ‘Little Gem’. It grows to a height and width of 40 x 35 feet in 25-30 years. Others include ‘Hasse’ (45 x 20 feet) and Teddy Bear® (30? x 20 feet).

The newest introduction is ‘Kay Parris’ with exquisite polished green wavy leaves and mahogany brown beneath. The parents of ‘Kay Parris’ are 'Little Gem’ and 'Bracken’s Brown Beauty’. As a young tree, 'Kay Parris' exhibits an upright, narrow (columnar) form, rating it a great evergreen tree for a small garden space.

Southern magnolia is planted from late winter through early fall in well-drained, organically amended soil in a full to partially (6 hours minimum) sunny area. Tree rarely has disease and insect issues.

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