5 Dwarf Magnolia Varieties

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Image Credit: Jared I. Lenz Photography/Moment/GettyImages
See More Photos

With their glossy green leaves and fragrant, saucer-sized flowers, magnolias are a beautiful specimen or screening plant that Southern gardeners have grown for decades. Many homeowners pass up magnolias because of the trees' size, however. Magnolias can grow well over 50 feet tall and nearly as wide.

Advertisement

Video of the Day

Several dwarf magnolia cultivars are available now, with more on the horizon, that allow homeowners with tight spaces to take advantage of these eye-catching trees and shrubs. Magnolias are generally winter hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9.

Advertisement

1. Dwarf Magnolia Little Gem

One of the best-known dwarfs is ​Magnolia grandiflora​ 'Little Gem.' Although this cultivar can grow 20 feet tall, it does so very slowly. Little Gem is an evergreen and hardy in zones 7 through 9. The upright tree produces white flowers with a delicious fragrance.

Advertisement

Little Gem can be grown successfully in containers if you prune it back to control size and spread. In the garden, Little Gem can get as wide as 10 feet without pruning. Little Gem tolerates almost any kind of soil and prefers full sun to light shade. This magnolia can produce blooms while still very young.

Advertisement

2. Evergreen Teddy Bear

Like Little Gem, ​Magnolia grandiflora​ 'Southern Charm,' also called "Teddy Bear," can grow up to 20 feet tall. Teddy Bear is a little larger, growing up to 12 feet wide, and this variety grows faster than Little Gem. The tree is evergreen and compact, with white flowers. Magnolias are a traditional part of many Southern gardens, usually planted with camellia and other southern specialties.

Advertisement

Plant Teddy Bear in full sun in well-drained soil. Teddy Bear is hardy in zones 7 through 9, but is easily cultivated in containers in colder climates, where it can spend winter indoors.

3. Late Bloomer Royal Star

Hardy in zones 4 through 9, ​Magnolia stellata​ 'Royal Star' grows 10 to 20 feet tall and produces large white, star-shaped flowers in early spring. Royal Star prefers rich, well-drained soil. It likes full sun, but will tolerate light shade.

Advertisement

Royal Star is a late bloomer that makes a fine specimen planting in the yard. You can also plant several of these small magnolias together for a tall hedge or use it as a foundation planting.

4. Magnolia Shrub Ann

Classified as a deciduous shrub rather than a tree, ​Magnolia x 'Ann'​ is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and only grows 10 feet tall. Depending on regional climate, Ann may bloom from mid to late spring, producing a stunning array of purplish-red, chalice-shaped flowers. Ann may be used as a shrub or grown into a tree shape. Plant in acidic, moist soil in full sun. Ann is a late bloomer.

Advertisement

5. Grandiflora Baby Grand

Magnolia​ ​grandiflora​ var. ​STRgra​, branded as "Baby Grand," was discovered in Australia. An evergreen, this dwarf magnolia has a rounded form and is hardy in zones 7 through 9. Plant in full sun and water weekly. Baby Grand produces large, fragrant white flowers in spring and summer. Use it as a specimen plant in the yard or plant anywhere that very moist soil is a problem for other trees.

Advertisement