Little Gem Magnolia

The ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia Is A Gem Indeed


A quick glance at the characteristics of the ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia tree should convince many magnolia lovers that this plant deserves a place in their garden. A medium-sized evergreen tree, the ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia typically grows to a height of around 20 feet, and has a width of roughly 10 feet. It has a growth rate of about 2 feet a year in warmer climates, and slightly less than that in cooler climates. The ‘Little Gem’ has a bushy and somewhat conical shape, with fairly dense foliage. When in bloom, the ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia looks very much like a Christmas tree from a short distance away. The ‘Little Gem’ is a cultivar of the southern magnolia. The southern magnolia is a much larger tree, often reaching a height of 90 feet, and having significant value as a source of timber for furniture and other uses. The scientific name of the ‘Little Gem’ cultivar is Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’.


Many Uses


This magnolia has a number of landscape uses. Its presence in a well laid out yard and garden is sure to enhance property value to some degree. It makes a wonderful specimen tree, but it can be also used as a screen or buffer, and several trees can be trained to form an attractive hedge. The ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia fits nicely into a Japanese garden theme, but is equally at home in an English or cottage garden. While the ‘Little Gem’ can be grown in full sun, it is sometimes at its best when grown in a partially shaded location or where it receives filtered sun most of the time. For this reason, it looks quite at home in a woodland setting.

Growing The ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia


The ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia is not terrible fussy about the soil it is placed in. It seems to do equally as well in clay soils as in loam or sandy soils, as long as the soil is well-drained. The ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia falls into the drought resistant category although it does appreciate occasional watering. The ‘Little Gem’ is an easy tree to care for as its water needs are fairly low. Its roots grow fairly close to the surface and application of a little mulch around the roots is advisable to help keep them moist, as well as protecting them from extreme cold. Also, the roots tend to congregate around the drip line of the tree. The drip line is where fertilizer should be applied.


This southern magnolia cultivar is suitable for growing in both temperate and warmer weather climates. It may not do as well in places experiencing long and bitterly cold winters. It does not seem to mind very hot climates. The tree will survive a fairly frigid cold snap, but not a lengthy period of extremely frigid weather. Its foliage can be described as being rather leathery in texture and is a dark glossy green color.


The 8-inch flowers are white and pleasantly fragrant, attracting birds as well as butterflies. The fragrance has been described by some owners as lemon-like. The tree blooms from the late spring to late summer or fall in most areas. In warmer climates, such as Texas and Florida, the tree may be in blossom 6 months of the year. Deer are not attracted to the foliage and the tree, for the most part, is considered to be relatively pest-resistant.


Deadheading Is Recommended


While the tree is noted for its prolific blooming, which begins at a relatively early age, the blooms themselves are rather short-lived. If you have one of these trees, constant deadheading may be necessary to keep its appearance at its best, but this is not a hard requirement. Deadheading will encourage new growth however, and it will also tend to extend the blooming season, so it is well worth the effort.


Pruning is generally not needed with the exception of occasionally removing a broken or awkward looking branch. Hard pruning is usually done only when the tree is being used as a hedge. Fortunately, the tree is quite tolerant of being heavily pruned and can even be pruned flat if one wishes to grow it against a building.


Although mostly common to the Southern and border states where its parent tree, the southern magnolia, is popular, the ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia has successfully been grown as far north as Washington state, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.


Beautiful Tree – Easy To Care For


In summary, if you have always wanted a magnolia tree in your yard or garden and live in an area where a magnolia can survive, consider the ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia. Being a medium size tree, it is not going to overwhelm a small yard, and at the same time fits perfectly well in a very large area. It can be grown successfully in most areas of the United States, except those where winters are quite long and rather brutal. Except for some deadheading to keep it at its most attractive, this is a tree which really requires little care once established.