Jane magnolia Tree: History, Growth Rate, Appearance & More

The Jane magnolia tree, scientifically known as Magnolia x ‘Jane’, has a fascinating history that intertwines botany, horticulture, and human ingenuity. This stunning tree is a result of a cross between Magnolia liliiflora ‘Reflorescens’ and Magnolia stellata ‘Waterlily,’ both of which have their own rich histories.

Magnolia liliiflora, also known as the lily magnolia or Mulan magnolia, is native to China and was first introduced to Europe in the early 19th century. It is a small, deciduous tree with a compact growth habit and beautiful, fragrant flowers that bloom in late spring.

On the other hand, Magnolia stellata, or the star magnolia, is native to Japan and was introduced to the West in the late 19th century. This small tree has a broad, spreading growth habit and produces white, star-shaped flowers in early spring.

The story of the Jane magnolia tree begins in the mid-20th century at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. In the 1950s, a group of botanists and horticulturists, led by Francis DeVos and William Kosar, embarked on a breeding program to create a new magnolia hybrid that would combine the best traits of both Magnolia liliiflora and Magnolia stellata.

The result of their efforts was the Little Girl series of magnolias, which includes the popular ‘Ann,’ ‘Betty,’ ‘Judy,’ ‘Pinkie,’ and of course, ‘Jane.’ These magnolias were named after the daughters of the researchers involved in the project. The ‘Jane’ magnolia, in particular, was named after the daughter of one of the researchers, Dr. William Kosar.

The ‘Jane’ magnolia tree has since become a beloved ornamental tree, loved for its beautiful, deep pink flowers that bloom in late spring. It is a small tree that can work well for smaller gardens and landscapes. Its flowers are also fragrant and attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

‘Jane’ magnolia’s short stature makes it a suitable small tree for growing under power lines or other areas where space is limited. You can easily prune it when young into a more shrub-like habit, making it useful as a foundation or border shrub. You can also leave it to its own devices to form an informal hedge. The early spring flowers are practically impervious to frost and offer long lasting ornamental value to the garden.

Characteristics of Jane Magnolia

  • Lifespan: A well-cared-for Jane Magnolia can live up to 50 years or more.
  • Growth Rate: This tree has a moderate growth rate, growing 1-2 feet per year.
  • USDA Zones: The Jane Magnolia is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.
  • Root System: The tree has a relatively shallow root system. It is suitable for planting near structures and other plants, but it’s essential to provide proper care and maintenance to avoid root-related issues.
  • Height and Spread: It can grow to a height of 8-12 feet and a spread of 6-10 feet.
  • Flower Color and Bloom Time: The tree produces stunning, large, deep pink flowers with a white interior in mid-spring, from late April to early May.
  • Leaf Characteristics: The tree has large, oval leaves that emerge with a pale green to copper-red tint in spring, turning dark green in summer, and finally, a yellow and bronze or copper color in fall.
  • Bark: The bark of the Jane Magnolia is a beautiful gray color and has a smooth texture when young, becoming slightly more furrowed with age.
  • Sunlight Requirements: The tree prefers full sun to partial shade for optimal growth and flowering.
  • Soil Requirements: The Jane Magnolia thrives in well-drained, organically rich, and slightly acidic to neutral soil.
  • Water Requirements: Regular watering is essential, especially during the first few years after planting. Once established, the tree becomes more drought-tolerant but still benefits from occasional watering during dry periods.

How To Grow And Care For Jane Magnolia

LocationChoose a sunny location with well-drained soil for optimal growth. Jane magnolia thrive in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Ensure adequate space for the tree’s mature size and root spread.
PlantingPlant in spring or fall, when the soil is warm and moist. Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly shallower than the root ball. Backfill with amended soil, and water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.
WateringKeep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first year after planting to help establish a strong root system. Once established, water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
FertilizingApply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization, as it can promote excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowering.
PruningPrune in late winter or early spring to remove dead, damaged, or crossing branches. Thin out the canopy to improve air circulation and promote flowering. Avoid heavy pruning, as it can reduce flowering potential.
MulchingApply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree, keeping it several inches away from the trunk. Mulching helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and moderate soil temperature fluctuations.
Pest and DiseaseMonitor for pests such as aphids, scale insects, and powdery mildew. Treat infestations promptly with appropriate measures, such as insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Provide proper air circulation to prevent powdery mildew.
Winter CareProtect young or newly planted trees from freezing temperatures with mulch and frost cloth. Avoid late-season pruning, as it can stimulate new growth that may be susceptible to frost damage.


The ‘Jane’ magnolia tree (Magnolia x ‘Jane’) belongs to the Little Girl group of magnolias, a group of early spring blooming hybrids originally created at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C. in the 1950s. ‘Jane’ is a cross between Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’ and Magnolia stellata ‘Rosea. All of the Little Girl series of magnolias flower later in the season than both the star and saucer magnolias, which means that their blossoms are less susceptible to frost. ‘Jane’ grows in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. The tree is on the small side, growing to a mature height of between 10 to 15 feet, with a spread from 8 to 12 feet. It produces thick leaves and tulip-like, lightly fragrant pink and white flowers.