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.