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What is a Jane Magnolia?

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  • Written By: Greer Hed
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2016
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A Jane magnolia is a hybrid magnolia shrub from a group of about 10 hybrid species known as the Little Girl magnolias, all of which have common women's names, such as Ann, Jane, and Betty. These hybrids were developed during the mid-1950s in Washington, D.C by crossbreeding the species Magnolia liliiflora with the species Magnolia stellata. The Jane magnolia is a late-blooming shrub that is usually considered to be hardier than similar hybrid species. It is often planted in flower gardens as a decorative shrub or small tree, and is useful for creating accents and borders.

The Jane magnolia is a flowering shrub or small tree that typically grows to heights of 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 meters), although some plants may grow as high as 15 feet (about 4.5 meters). Its main trunk is gray and grows low to the ground before splitting off into individual branches. Leaves usually appear on the Jane magnolia before flowers do, and are deep green with a shiny, supple texture. The tree typically sheds its leaves before its flowers begin to bloom in the middle of spring. Its sweet-scented flowers are cup-shaped, reminiscent of tulips, and are reddish purple outside and pale white inside.

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Jane magnolia shrubs are usually cultivated using branch cuttings or by grafting. Cuttings can be taken from an adult tree's branches and then planted separately as new plants. Grafting is usually used in commercial growing situations, and involves joining two plants together, generally using the roots of one plant and the branches of another. These shrubs cannot be started from seed; like many hybrid species, their flowers are sterile and typically do not produce any viable seed. Saplings may also be purchased from a tree nursery or gardening store and then transplanted in the garden.

These shrubs usually prefer to be grown in a spot that receives full sun, although they will also tolerate partial shade conditions. The ideal soil conditions for the shrubs are fertile and moist, but the plants will grow and blossom successfully in almost any kind of soil, even soils that are heavily acidic or sandy. Regardless of what type of soil they are planted in, Jane magnolia shrubs require regular watering, but also should not be overwatered. Both young plants and mature ones need to be pruned occasionally; younger trees are encouraged to grow and develop by pruning, while older ones are kept neat and tidy by this practice.

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