11 Dwarf Magnolia Tree Varieties For Your Home or Garden

Are you looking for a smaller magnolia tree to fit in your home landscape or gardening area? There are several dwarf magnolia trees that can fit into more compact spaces. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss looks at her favorite types of dwarf magnolia trees you can plant.

dwarf magnolia trees

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Do you just love the idea of a magnolia tree, but feel like you simply don’t have a space that could accommodate a tree that size? Don’t worry! There is a great selection of dwarf magnolias that come in a wide variety of different shapes and colors!

Dwarf magnolias are as varied and nuanced as full-sized magnolia trees. These compact flowering trees bloom in shades of pinks and reds, whites, and yellows. Some are evergreen and others are deciduous. To put it plainly, if there is a full-sized magnolia you are longing for, it’s a near certainty that there is a dwarf variety that will suit your fancy, and not overwhelm a more modest space.

Here I have compiled a list of 11 diverse types of dwarf magnolia trees. Some make wonderful privacy hedges and others add full sized helping of drama. Let’s take a look at the varied and enchanting world of dwarf magnolias, hopefully we can find one that strikes your fancy!

Ann

Close-up of a blooming dark purple Magnolia liliiflora 'nigra' flower against a blurred background. A cup-shaped flower, composed of dark purple-red petals with a pale pink interior. The leaves are small, pale green.
It is a hardy variety with cup-shaped, deep purple-red buds that will add a touch of elegance to your garden.
Scientific Name: Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring
  • Plant Size: 8’-10’ tall and 10’ wide
  • Plant Zone: 4-7
  • Light: Full Sun

Ann is a member of the U.S. National Arboretum’s “Little Girl” hybrid collection. It’s a hardy variety that will do well in urban or rural habitats.

Ann needs some protection from cold winds, as a late freeze could damage the buds, but overall is a late spring bloomer, so it generally avoids frost damage. This lovely little magnolia makes a great shrub or small tree.

Ann’s flowers show up in late spring and are just stunning. The medium sized (4”) blooms are chalice shaped. This tree flowers in deep purple and red with a pale pink interior. It also has a light fragrance. Through late spring and summer, dark green, leathery leaves give Ann a second type of appeal. The overall appearance of this magnolia is elegant and feminine.

‘Baby Doll’

Close-up of a blooming white Magnolia grandiflora 'Baby Doll' flower surrounded by dark green leathery leaves covered with water drops. White flower, large, consisting of rounded large petals surrounding a long yellow center surrounded by stamens. Leathery evergreen leaves, 5-10 inches long, shiny above and rusty below.
This small tree produces attractive white flowers in summer and autumn.
Scientific Name: Magnolia grandiflora ‘Baby Doll’
  • Bloom Time: Summer and Fall
  • Plant Size: 10’-15’ tall and 15’-18’ wide
  • Plant Zone: 7-10
  • Light: Full Sun to Part Shade

This wonderful grandiflora variety has a pyramidal growth habit, lending itself to a lovely small tree shape. Baby Doll produces sterile seeds, so it must be grown from cuttings. It is an evergreen and will create a lovely hedge screen when planted together.

The foliage is dense and glossy. Baby Doll matures to a mounded growth habit that adds to its versatility.

Baby Doll is similar in appearance to the very popular Little Gem variety, but is not as widely sold, so it has a little appeal in rarity as well. This tree has large white flowers that appear through the summer and into fall, making this a long bloomer. Given it’s evergreen status, this variety has year round interest.

Baby Grand

Close-up of a blooming Magnolia grandiflora 'STRgra' flower surrounded by elliptical, smooth, leathery evergreen leaves. The flower has large rounded creamy white petals and a large yellow carpel with a bright pink base.
‘Baby Grand’ is an evergreen dwarf magnolia with magnificent creamy white flowers and with a wonderful fragrance.
Scientific Name: Magnolia grandiflora ‘STRgra’
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Plant Size: 10’ tall and 7’ wide
  • Plant Zone:  7-11
  • Light: Full Sun to Part Shade

This evergreen beauty hails from Australia and makes a wonderful privacy hedge or small tree. For anyone who loves the look of the classic Southern Magnolia, but doesn’t have space for a 60’ giant, Baby Grand is a perfect choice. It has all the charm of the larger tree but occupies only a fraction of the space.

Baby Grand’s velvety buds open in late spring to reveal wonderfully fragrant, creamy white blooms.  The large, lemon scented blooms have delicately tapered inner petals and a large yellow carpel with a bright pink base, which stands out beautifully against the white petals.

‘Centennial Blush’

Close-up of a flowering star Magnolia stellata 'Centennial' in a sunny garden. The star flower is large, has white elongated petals with purple-pink stripes on the underside, resembles a blossoming lotus flower. Blurred background of blooming magnolia.
This is one of the most cold-hardy magnolia varieties, blooming with showy purplish-pink star-shaped flowers.
Scientific Name: Magnolia stellata ‘Centennial Blush’
  • Bloom Time: Early Spring
  • Plant Size: 10’-15’ tall and wide
  • Plant Zone:  4-8
  • Light: Full Sun to Part Shade

Native to Japan, this special variety of star magnolia is among the most cold hardy of the magnolia trees. Named to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Arboretum, this stunning magnolia is an early bloomer, both in age and in season.

Centennial Blush has some of the most striking flowers. The blooms are large (5”) and appear on bare branches. They first appear as purple-pink buds, which open to reveal up to 45, blush pink petals in a starlike formation.

The outer color remains only as a gentle striping on the underside of the petals. Centennial’s blooms resemble an open lotus flower.

‘Colossus’

Close-up of a blooming Magnolia sieboldii 'Colossus' flower surrounded by large, light green leaves. A double flower, in a semi-closed state, has rounded large petals in several rows surrounding a pale green carpel surrounded by crimson stamens.
‘Colossus’ is heat tolerant and has fragrant white flowers with crimson stamens.
Scientific Name:  Magnolia sieboldii ‘Colossus’
  • Bloom Time: Spring and Summer
  • Plant Size: 15’-20’ tall and wide
  • Plant Zone:  6-9
  • Light: Full Sun to Part Shade

Colossus may sound like a giant, but this tree is actually quite in the small to midsize range. It is very sun and heat tolerant. This variety is slow to mature and tends to have a spreading habit in its later years of maturation. Also called Oyama Magnolia, it is native to China and Japan.

This sun lover needs a bit of protection in hotter climates, and blooms from spring into the summer months. The medium sized (4”) blooms are fragrant with white petals and crimson stamens, which have a dramatic appeal. Colossus is deciduous and its large leaves turn yellow in the fall.

‘Gail’s Favorite’

Close-up of a blooming white flower of Magnolia laevifolia ‘Gail’s Favorite’ against a blurred background of green leaves and blooming magnolia twigs. The flower is cup-shaped, fully opened, has small rounded petals arranged in a single row around a green carpel and light yellow stamens. The leaves are elliptical, shiny, leathery green.
‘Gail’s Favorite’ is an evergreen shrub with leathery leaves and fragrant white flowers that bloom in early summer.
Scientific Name: Magnolia laevifolia ‘Gail’s Favorite’
  • Bloom Time: Early Summer
  • Plant Size: 10’ tall and 4’ wide
  • Plant Zone:  8-11
  • Light: Full Sun

This Chinese native is a hardy, evergreen shrub with classic magnolia leaves. Glossy green, and leathery, the leaves have a sueded, rust-colored underside.

Gail’s Favorite matures quickly and is well suited to both city and country gardens. Gail’s is a great choice for anyone who wants that classic magnolia look, on a much smaller scale.

Gail’s Favorite produces flowers through spring and early summer. The blooms are chalice shaped, white in color, and fragrant. The fully opened flower reveals a green carpel and light-yellow stamens. It produces quite a lot of these blooms which open from velvety brown buds.

‘Genie’

Close-up of two blooming Magnolia soulangeana x liliiflora 'Genie' flowers against blue sky in a garden. The large flowers are tulip-shaped and have maroon petals. Pale green leaves grow on a branch around the flowers.
‘Genie’ produces elegant deep maroon flowers with a slight fragrance.
Scientific Name: Magnolia soulangeana x liliiflora ‘Genie’
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Plant Size: 10’-13’ tall and 5’-6’ wide
  • Plant Zone:  5-9
  • Light: Full Sun

Genie is a wish come true with the most amazing blooms that will bring an elegant beauty to any small garden. This tree may be small, but it is mighty where the blooms are concerned. Large (6”) deep maroon blooms emerge from fuzzy brown buds in mid-spring.

A deep red carpel with stamens lightly dusted with yellow pollen peek through the petals when opened. The flowers are tulip shaped and lightly fragrant. Though they bloom on bare wood, with adequate moisture they can continue to bloom into the summer months, sporadically.

The tree itself is compact and upright, with a narrow growth habit. This sweet little tree will wow in the garden and is especially nice to have close to the house or patio where its gorgeous blooms can be enjoyed as much as possible. This variety is an award winner for its ease of care and outstanding qualities.

‘King Rose Star’

Flowering branches of Magnolia stellata ‘King Rose Star’ against the backdrop of a spring green garden. Flowers bloom on bare branches, have long white petals with pink-purple stripes on the outside of the petals. Some of the buds haven't opened yet.
‘King Rose Star’ produces white star-shaped flowers with a slight pink blush on the outer petals.
Scientific Name: Magnolia stellata ‘King Rose Star’
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Plant Size: 8’-10’ tall and 8’-12’ wide
  • Plant Zone:  5-9
  • Light: Full Sun to Part Shade

This sweet, little, shrubby hybrid has a delicate and lacy appearance when it blooms in the spring. A deciduous variety, the blooms appear first as soft, fuzzy buds that resemble a rabbit’s foot. The plant itself is slow growing and has a wider spread than its height, making it a lovely shrub as it won’t turn into a tree if you forget to prune it for a year.

This stellata variety lives up to its species’ reputation. Starlike blooms extend long white fingers around a small yellow-green eye. A soft yellow glow creeps just a bit from the center and petals can have a slight blush to them. The flowers are fragrant and plentiful on this lovely magnolia.

‘Petit Chicon’

Close-up of creamy white flowers on bare branches of Magnolia acuminata x Magnolia denudata against a blue sky. The flowers are cup-shaped, medium in size, pale creamy yellow with a greenish tinge at the base of the petals.
‘Petit Chicon’ is a hardy cultivar with pale creamy yellow flowers tinged with green at the base of the petals.
Scientific Name: Magnolia ‘Petit Chicon’
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring
  • Plant Size: 13’ tall and wide
  • Plant Zone:  6-9
  • Light: Full Sun to Part Shade

Petit Chicon is the earliest blooming yellow flowered magnolia. Its frost resistant blooms are a pale, creamy yellow with some green coloration near the base of the petals. The overall appearance is very much like an Easter Lily.

A bright green carpel peeks from the center, lightly misted with yellow pollen. This variety gets its name from the appearance of the buds, which resemble a small endive.

This magnolia is medium sized and can be trained into a shrub or small tree, topping out around 13’. It is deciduous, but with its extended blooming period, it generally will have leaves and flowers present together. This is not the hardiest variety, and is vulnerable to frost with its early blooming habit, so planting above zone 6 is not recommended.

‘Royal Star’

Close-up of a large white Magnolia Stellata 'Royal Star' flower on a branch with bright green leaves. The flower consists of long white petals arranged in two rows around a green carpel with yellow stamens.
This is an early flowering variety with delicate white flowers in the shape of a twinkling star.
Scientific Name: Magnolia Stellata ‘Royal Star’
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Plant Size: 10’-15’ tall and 10’-12’ wide
  • Plant Zone: 4-9
  • Light: Full Sun

Royal Star gets its name from the appearance of its blooms. The variety is early blooming, with mid-sized (4”), but dainty, white double petaled blooms that look like twinkling stars. This variety is deciduous, so blooms appear abundantly on bare branches.

Royal Star has very good cold and heat tolerance. It is low growing and makes a beautiful shrub or small tree with its rounded growth habit. Native to Japan, Royal Star likes rich, loamy soil and moderate watering. It is quite popular for its showy, flowering nature. This variety makes a wonderful, springtime focal point.

‘Vulcan’

Close-up of a vibrant, purplish pink Magnolia x 'Vulcan' flower against a blurry background of a flowering tree in a garden. The flower is purple-pink, cup-shaped. The leaves are oval, green with a purple tint.
‘Vulcan’ produces striking deep pink flowers that turn redder with age.
Scientific Name: Magnolia x ‘Vulcan’
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Plant Size: 10’-25’ tall and 10’-15’ wide
  • Plant Zone:  5-9
  • Light: Full Sun

The blooms on this last variety will leave you speechless. This flowering tree has brilliant magenta blooms the size of dinner plates (10”-12”) cover this striking magnolia. The blooms are one of the deepest in color of all the magnolias, and very substantial in weight and texture. When it’s young, Vulcan’s blooms may be more on the pink side, but it improves with age, getting redder as it reaches maturity.

The shape is initially quite upright, topping out around 15’, but as the tree ages it will take on more of a rounded habit, with a spread extending almost as wide as it is tall. Careful pruning can determine the shape of this, whether a large shrub or multi-trunked tree. Vulcan is adaptable to urban environments and brings drama wherever you plant it.

Final Thoughts

With the range of colors, sizes, and flower forms available, it is easy to see why dwarf magnolias are so popular and have so many wide-reaching hybrids. Magnolias are hardy and easy to care for. Although most varieties take some time to grow, slow and steady wins this race.

If you are looking for a dwarf magnolia for your space, I hope that some of these varieties piqued your interest. If you simply stumbled upon this list, I hope you are as enchanted by the world of magnolias and begin your journey to being a magnolia gardener, too!

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