‘Judy’ is one of eight magnolias in the Little Girl series. Shrubby and compact by nature, they can be selectively pruned to form multitrunked trees up to 15 feet tall.
‘Betty’, another of the Little Girl hybrids, blooms profusely in spring. Summer brings occasional flowers that are tucked among the leaves.
‘Ann’, like her sisters in the Little Girl series, blooms 2 to 4 weeks after saucer and star magnolias, usually sparing the flowers from frost damage.
The Little Girl hybrids (Zone 5) are the result of breeding work by the U.S. National Arboretum in the late 1950s, using varieties of M. liliiflora and M. stellata as parents. In all, the arboretum released eight cultivars: ‘Ann’, ‘Betty’, ‘Jane’, ‘Judy’, ‘Pinkie’, ‘Randy’, ‘Ricki’, and ‘Susan’. These hybrids reach from 8 to 15 feet tall with an equal spread. The flower colors range from deep pink to a deep purple. They flower in midspring and therefore are less likely to be damaged by freezing weather.
‘Spectrum’ offers flowers in a rich red-purple hue and up to 10 inches across.
‘Leonard Messel’ reveals its star magnolia parentage in pompomlike flowers with loose, strappy tepals.
‘Centennial’ star magnolia covers itself with shaggy white blooms that are faintly infused with pink. It’s early to bloom and therefore is susceptible to damage from late frosts.
‘Norbertii’, a saucer magnolia, bears rosy pink buds that open to pale interiors with just a hint of pink. Eventually reaches 25 feet with a rounded crown.
‘Alexandrina’ displays flaring purple-pink chalices. This saucer magnolia of rounded form is often multitrunked and grows up to 30 feet tall.
‘Elizabeth’, the first yellow-flowered hybrid, became a horticultural sensation when it was introduced in 1978. The tree is pyramidal, growing up to 40 feet at maturity.