Virtues: A beautiful spring-flowering tree for the small garden, ‘Elizabeth’ magnolia boasts large, creamy yellow blossoms covering a tidy canopy. Broad green leaves open just after the bloom and provide nice shade for underplantings through the summer. This is a reliable magnolia for northern regions and it has been a consistent frontrunner among yellow varieties. Tower Hill Botanic Garden chose this small tree as a Cary Award winner (2004).
Common name: Elizabeth magnolia
Botanical name: Magnolia x’Elizabeth’
Habit: Deciduous tree reaching 20 to 35 feet tall with a 12- to 20-foot spread.
Origin: ‘Elizabeth’ magnolia was introduced in 1977 from a breeding program run by Dr. Evamaria Sperber at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Its parents include North American Magnolia acuminata and Chinese M. denudata.
How to grow it: Plant this tree in full sun or part shade. In hot climates give it more shade, especially in the afternoon. In cold climates, offer some protection from winter winds. It prefers consistently moist soil and good drainage. Pruning should not be necessary on this compact tree, but damaged wood can be removed in late winter. Flowers open from buds set the previous year. Zones 5–8.
Image credit: nycbone, CC BY-2.0 via flickr.com