The yellow flowers of Forsythia bushes are blooming now so
the Saucer Magnolias (tulip trees) will be next. The Saucer Magnolia blooms in early spring
and can sometimes be damaged by frost, resulting in fewer blooms or no blooms.
In 1955 Dr. Francis de Vos a geneticist with the U.S.
National Arboretum and in 1956 horticulturist William Kosar developed 8 new
shrubby type saucer magnolias that bloomed later in the season in hopes of
lessening frost damage and increasing blooms.
These were known as the “Little Girl” magnolias and are the
ones you find in most nurseries today.
(Ann, Betty, Jane, Judy, Pinkie, Randy, Ricki and Susan) They are
smaller and more shrub-like than the standard Saucer Magnolia which can reach
The “girls” only grow to 15 feet tall and since they don’t
form a dominant leader they are best left as oval shaped shrubs instead of trying
to prune into trees. The four most
popular are ‘Ann’ (deep purple-pink), ‘Betty’ (pink-purple), ‘Susan’
(red-purple), and ‘Jane’ (light pink-purple).
They will flower best when planted in full sun but will
tolerate light afternoon shade. Due to
their smaller size they are an excellent accent plant in flower beds or as
anchor plants in a widened bed at the corners of a house.
Pruning should be done after blooming but not after
mid-summer. The best time to fertilize
is in the spring. Well-drained soil is
preferred. The girls are slow growers so
don’t expect them to gain more than a foot per year.
Their blooms are a welcomed sight each year and signal that
spring is almost here. Even after their
showy blooms have faded away the shrub is an attractive addition to your