If you’re looking to plant a magnolia tree in your garden and you haven’t looked after one of these amazing specimens before, or you think your garden might not be big enough for one of the larger varieties, then a Jane magnolia from The Tree Center might be ideal for you.
The Jane magnolia was one of several so-called “Little Girl” varieties of magnolia developed at the US National Arboretum in Washington DC way back in the 1950s. These trees are smaller than most magnolias – maxing out at between 10 and 15 feet in height, and they flower in early spring to produce tulip-looking, lightly-scented pink and white flowers.
The right locations for your tree
This variety of magnolia will thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 4-7, and it will grow well in full or partial shade. One sort of optimal location is one which has direct sunlight in the early morning, with some shade falling over it in the afternoon to offer protection from strong sun in the summer. A definite must for these trees is 15 feet around them so they can grow comfortably; the Jane magnolias also tend to need a lot of air circulation as they can be susceptible to powdery mildew.
The right soils for these trees
Magnolias of all varieties can tolerate a wide range of soils, from acidic to alkaline, and many types of structures. Its ideal soil, however, is porous and mildly acidic, with a pH of between 5.0 and 6.5. If your soil is outside this range, you could consider mixing in some leaf mold to the soil before planting the tree.
You must make sure you plant the tree in its final location, however, as magnolias have very complex, delicate and large root systems that really don’t recover well after transplantation. You should also mulch the tree well to help to maintain moisture in the soil – these trees need an average amount of water, so it’s a good idea to keep the soil on a fairly even keel.
The magnolia’s problems
Magnolias are pretty much pest- and disease-free, although they can have a tendency towards scale on their twigs and leaves. You can combat this by applying horticultural oil regularly. You may also notice scab, canker and black mildew every so often, although a healthy magnolia tends to fight these off. You must be careful when mowing or cutting weeds near the tree, however, as the bark is thin and doesn’t recover too well after an injury. If you’re thinking of doing any pruning, make sure the flowering season is over so you don’t damage or cut off any flower buds.
The magnolia’s features
The relatively small size of the Jane magnolia makes it ideal for smaller spaces and for growing under powerlines or other structures. When younger it also takes well to pruning into a smaller shrub-style tree so you can use it as a border shrub or a landscaping feature. If it’s left to grow freely it makes a great hedging tree alongside other species, too. The flowers it produces in early spring aren’t affected by frosts and they last for a while, giving you plenty to look at until the summer.