The southern magnolia is widely admired for its beautiful evergreen foliage, with glossy, deep-green, evergreen leaves and fascinating brown ‘fur’ on the underside. But these beautiful trees can grow very large, and become too big for the average garden. Then along came the Kay Parris Southern Magnolia. This wonderful tree grows no more than 25 feet tall, small enough to fit into anything but the tiniest garden. Not only that, it has large, creamy-white flowers – much larger than some other small-growing southern magnolias. It blooms continuously from June to September – four months of gorgeous, scented blossoms that will thrill you with their beauty. To top it all off, this tree is fast growing and best of all, a whole zone hardier than other small varieties – surviving anywhere in zone 6 with no problems.
The original southern magnolia, which can grow 60 feet tall and be 20 to 30 feet across, is too large for many gardens, while the Kay Parris Southern Magnolia is much smaller and compact, growing to between 12 and 25 feet tall and only 8 to 12 feet across. It can be grown as a large, multi-stem shrub, or with a little pruning while young it can easily be turned into a tree with a sturdy central trunk. It retains its dense form for life, making it a great tree for a screen, as it doesn’t open out as it matures, remaining upright and magnificent.
The Kay Parris Southern Magnolia can be used as a specimen tree in a smaller garden. It can be planted as a beautiful background to other shrubs and flowering plants. It also makes a beautiful privacy screen or planted in rows it becomes a majestic way to line your driveway. It even makes a great tree for a large planter or pot, where it will grow happily for years without outgrowing the pot.
The southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora, grows wild throughout the woods of North Carolina all the way to Florida, and westward to Texas. These magnificent trees have been associated with plantations and the southern way of life, conjuring up lazy evenings and warm nights, filled with the rich perfume of this tree. However for gardeners further north this beauty was not available, as the original trees were not very hardy. As well they grow very large in time – too large for most gardens, especially the smaller gardens found today. So there was a need for smaller and hardier trees, and in 1991 the magnolia breeder Kevin Parris, working in South Carolina, produced a new hybrid tree. He used a popular dwarf form, the Little Gem Southern Magnolia, which he crossed with a hardy variety called ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’. The result was a new variety he named after his wife, which was hardier than ‘Little Gem’, but still had the smaller size.
A whole zone hardier than other small varieties, the Kay Parris Southern Magnolia will grow even in temperatures as cold as minus 10 Fahrenheit, placing it comfortably in zone 6. So if you live in a cooler region and never thought you could grow the Southern Magnolia, the news is that you can – with the Kay Parris Southern Magnolia.
The Kay Parris Southern Magnolia has leaves that are 6 to 8 inches long, with a wavy margin characteristic of this particular variety The upper surface is a rich, very glossy green and the underside is covered with an orange-brown ‘felt’ of short, dense hairs, making a striking contrast with the glossy upper surface. The smooth bark is light-grey in color, and it is especially attractive on mature trees where the lower trunk is more visible. The new spring growth of your Kay Parris Southern Magnolia is red – adding an additional feature of beauty to your garden. As the first warm days of June arrive, the first creamy-white flowers will appear, releasing their delicious perfume into the air. For the next four months new flowers will be continuously produced, stopping only as summer ends and the cooler weather returns. In fall you will see the fruits, which look a little like pine cones. These open with a surprise – large, bright-red seeds, which hang briefly from a thin thread before falling to the ground.
Choose a sunny or partially-shaded spot to plant your Kay Parris Southern Magnolia. This tree will grow well in most soils, from sandy to clay soils and from acidic to alkaline ones. It will do best in soil that has a good organic content, so add plenty of rich organic material when planting your tree, and as annual mulch. Water your new arrival regularly for the first year or two, but after that it will be comfortable in the average dry conditions of summer. It has no significant pests and diseases and this long-lived tree will be a part of your garden for many, many years, becoming more and more beautiful over time.
This tree is a relatively new variety of the highest quality, so it is not often available and sells quickly. To have the opportunity to grow the Kay Parris Southern Magnolia, order now to avoid being disappointed.