Any imbecile, it seems, can grow a Jane Magnolia. Among the adjectives used to describe it on various websites are: "hardy," "disease-resistant," "foolproof," "can't-miss." One site even listed it as an ideal plant for the horticulturally challenged, along with Daylilies and English Ivy.
I know all of this because I've been searching for an explanation as to why my Jane Magnolia died.
I bought three of them back in February and planted them in the same general area. The one that died, I planted on Feb 9, the others a month later. We had several nights in the 20s in February and March, but I can't imagine that would have killed the tree. Buds, yes, but not the tree.
Whatever it was seemed to be some kind of rot, and it seemed to die from the top down. The stems turned dark and when I scraped the bark with my fingernail, it felt like mush. It leafed out, but within days, each new leaf had died. (A second tree seems to have a little of this at the stem tip, but so far is doing okay.)
I keep all my plant receipts for just this reason, so I dug up the tree and took it back to Lowes, where I got a refund with no problem. Their few remaining Janes didn't look too good, but I found another, unlabeled Magnolia soulangiana, which seems identical to one I planted three years ago and which has given me no trouble.
(I saved the tag from that one, but it is most unhelpful, as it neglects to mention the cultivar. This one has darker leaves than Jane, and its blooms are a darker purple. Both bloom about the same time. Any Magnolia experts out there care to hazard a guess? Jane is on the left, the new one is on the right.)