“In the Yard” column for Jan. 25, 2013

Louisianians grow up playing in neighborhood Southern magnolia trees. If your children are missing out, January and February are good magnolia planting months.

Southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) can reach 60 feet in height but average 40 to 50 feet with a spread of 20 to 30 feet, said Dan Gill, LSU AgCenter horticulturist.

Though evergreen, Southern magnolias drop a carpet of leaves in late summer and fall. Gill cautions against planting magnolias near patios, swimming pools and driveways.

Magnolia roots are sensitive to depth of planting. It’s critical that the top of the root ball be at or slightly higher than surrounding soil.

If you don’t have room for a Magnolia grandiflora, consider dwarf varieties of magnolia. One called “Little Gem” grows to only 20 feet with a spread of 8 feet.

Look for “Teddy Bear,” a variety that grows about 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

Ed Cullen

Advocate staff writer