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Magnolia x ‘Jane’

Magnolia ‘Jane’ is a hybrid of the native Magnolia stellata ‘Rosea’ and Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’, which is native to China.

With its deciduous habit and beautiful saucer-like flowers, Magnolia ‘Jane’ has characteristics often associated with deciduous magnolias native to North America. It is one of the latest flowering deciduous magnolias, typically in late April or early May. This protects the buds from late freezes, and Magnolia ‘Jane’ is one of eight cultivars hybridized for later bloom dates at the National Arboretum.

In Georgia, I’ve never seen any of the native magnolias lose their spring bloom due to hard freezes. At the upper limits of its hardiness zones, I’d think later bloom makes Magnolia ‘Jane’ especially desirable. Regardless of when it blooms the flowers are breathtaking.

Magnolia ‘Jane’ flower after the tree has leafed out. June 1, Athens, Georgia.

The flowers are deep magenta-purple and lighten as they open. The blooms can reach up to 8″ wide. Magnolia ‘Jane’ is easily recognized by the white insides of the petals. You can faintly see this characteristic developing on the young flower pictured directly above. As the flowers mature, they open fully and the white on the inside of the blooms becomes more pronounced.

The images shown here were actually taken on June 1, well after the tree has leafed out. This is not unusual. Jane magnolias will send forth the occasional flower throughout summer.

Magnolias like rich, slightly acidic soil. Average rainfall should suffice once the plant is established. You can grow it as a tree or shrub. If you want a tree, it will take a while as Jane is a slow grower. It will eventually reach 15′ or so high and wide. If you leave Magnolia ‘Jane’ unpruned (recommended) the tree it grows into will resemble a large shrub more than our traditional idea of a single-stemmed tree. It is a beautiful sight.

The roots are shallow and fleshy so mulch well and do not disturb the soil while cultivating around the trunk. I like to use a living mulch of perennials but pine straw or bark a couple inches thick will keep moisture in and help keep the roots cool. As the tree matures and roots begin to take up more moisture, my living mulch won’t work anyway.

Magnolia ‘Jane’ blooms on old wood so pruning immediately after flowering is recommended. If you choose to prune, try to retain the character of the tree. Don’t give it a haircut of uniformity.

Frankly, the only reason I can think of to prune any of the deciduous magnolias is due to damaged or crossing branches. If so, prune selected branches back hard. Pruning for size might be a mistake with this cultivar. It’s a deliberate grower anyway, and the natural, organic form is part of its beauty.

Magnolia ‘Jane’ is one of the best of a series of hybrids developed at the National Arboretum in the 1950s.

There were eight trees developed by William Kosar and Francis DeVos. They bred for later flowering in order to protect flowers from freezing from hard frosts.

You may occasionally hear about a new ‘native’ magnolia with a simple name (Ann, Betty, Jane, Judy, Pinkie, Randy, Ricki, and Susan). Chances are it is neither new nor native, but one of the Little Sisters series developed by Kosar and DeVos.

Over a period of thirty years starting in the 1970s, the Brooklyn Botanic garden introduced a series of eight magnolia cultivars.

Perhaps the most well-known is ‘Elizabeth’. It grows to 30′ feet (certainly not a Little Sister) with beautiful soft yellow flowers.

This is an old and mature specimen. Note the shrubby growth even though this tree is 12′-15′ tall.

Genus/speciesMagnolia x ‘Jane’
Common name(s)Jane magnolia
Of noteflowers very late for a deciduous magnolia – resist the urge to prune it into a tree as its natural form is gorgeous
Water requirementsaverage
Soil qualityrich, well-drained, average
Suggested use(s)cottage gardens, mixed borders/perennial beds, native collections, naturalized, understory, woodlands
Hardiness zone(s)4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
Typeshrub, tree
Deer resistantyes
Deciduous or evergreendeciduous
Flower colorpurple/violet
Bloom periodmid to late spring, summer
Exposurefull sun, afternoon shade, filtered light

One Comment

  1. Mike

    So, I’ve been attempting to collect all eight “Girls.” I’m down to trying to find Pinkie and Judy. Any thoughts as to where my two missing girls might be available?

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