The Girls: All About Tulip Magnolias

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.

‘Ann’ Tulip Magnolia

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 25’.

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 landscape.   

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The Best Small Trees for Your Yard

chastetreeChaste Tree

One of our favorite trees!  Who wouldn’t want a tree that has blue flowers throughout the summer?  This fast growing tree is known as a “Texas Superstar” for how well it performs and the Texas Department of Transportation uses them in landscape designs on highways throughout the state.  It is deer resistant, prefers full sun, is drought tolerant and likes well draining soil.  If you trim off the spent seed pods you will be rewarded with another bloom cycle in late summer to early Fall.

Crape Myrtlestuscarora1-400_grande

These summer blooming trees come in 4 main colors – white, pink, red and purple.  There are many different varieties available from trees that mature at a height of 10’ to those that reach 25’.  They bloom best when planted in full sun and can be planted as a stand alone specimen plant or in groupings.  For something different try planting 2 or 3 small plants of different colors in the same hole – it will look like 1 tree that has different color blooms.  You see them lining driveways and is another staple tree used by DOT.

japmapJapanese Maple

If you have a shady spot, consider planting a Japanese Maple.  Whether you choose an upright variety or a graceful weeper they add an array of fall color to your garden.  These are slower growing trees who require well-draining soil and will tolerate morning sun but like afternoon shade in our Texas summers.

Teddy Bear or Little Gem Magnoliateddybear

Enjoy the fragrant white flowers of the stately Southern Magnolia but on a much smaller tree.  Both are shorter varieties with the Teddy Bear being more compact of the 2.  Grows best in full sun, but is a slower growing tree.  Part of its appeal is that it is evergreen and does not drop its leaves in the Fall.

PinkRoseofSharonTree_400_1-01_grandeRose of Sharon

Many new hybrid varieties have been introduced within the past few years bringing about renewed interest in this old favorite.  They bloom in a variety of colors; white, pink, red, purple, throughout the summer months.  They will reach 10’ – 12’ tall and prefer full sun to partial sun for best performance.

Tulip Treetulipmagnolia

These pink to burgundy colored flowering trees bloom early in the spring.  They are a multi-trunk tree that is a slower growing tree but will eventually reach 15’ – 20’ tall and 15’ wide.  They are also called Saucer Magnolias and are actually a Magnolia but most people call them Tulip Tree due to the tulip shape of the bloom.

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