S & J Nursery's Guide to Growing
Magnolia Little Gem
Trees in Northeast Florida
(Magnolia Grandilora ‘Little Gem’)
Little Gem Magnolia Origins:
- Cultivar of the Native Southern Magnolia
Little Gem Magnolia Preferred Exposure:
- Full sun to partial sun / shade situations for the North Florida / Jacksonville/
St. Augustine area
Little Gem Magnolia Foliage | Bark:
- Foliage of the Little Gem Magnolia tree is a deep glossy green on the surface and
a soft fuzzy reddish
brown to tan on the underside of the leaves.
- Leaves are smaller than typical of the species being often as small as only 4 – 8
inches in length.
Little Gem Magnolia Soil Preference / Salt tolerance:
- Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ will prefer slightly acidic soil but will
tolerate sand, loam, clay,
slightly alkaline and even occasionally wet soils.
- Only moderate salt tolerance, do not plant directly on coastal areas.
Little Gem Magnolia Size Variance:
- Magnolia Little Gem has been touted as a dwarf Magnolia and indeed when first
said to only reach heights of 12-15 ft, This cultivar although still much smaller
than typical of
Magnolia Grandiflora’s is now thought to be able to reach sizes of 30-35ft in Height | and
preading up 8-12 ft wide. It seems the mature height of these trees is just still up
Literature on the subject varies greatly.
Little Gem Magnolia Growth Habit:
- Narrow oval to pyramidal habit tends to be much higher than
Little Gem Magnolia Growth Rate:
- Slow growing cultivar of Magnolia Grandiflora.
Little Gem Magnolia
- Large 8 inch slightly fragrant blooms form throughout the year on the Little Gem
We have been growing and selling these trees for 15 years now and it is not often
that you see
one without either a bloom or a bud forming somewhere on the tree.
Little Gem Magnolia Water Requirements:
- Magnolias need daily watering after planting and weekly supplemental irrigation for
first season or two when planted into the landscape and only occasional watering
times of extreme drought once established.
Butterfly or Bird Attracting:
- Magnolias thickly foliated branches make ideal nesting sites for North Florida
Blooms are followed by a fuzzy brown central cone that mature in the fall and open
exposing bright glossy red seeds that are used by wildlife.
Best Uses For Little Gem Magnolia in the North Florida | Jacksonville
| St. Augustine landscape:
- Magnolia Little Gem makes an excellent choice for a flowering tree where smaller
would hinder the ability to plant many of the larger growing Magnolia
- Southern Magnolias respond extremely well to pruning and can be kept in almost
form and used as an espalier or even used as a privacy hedge. The slower growth of
the Little Gem
makes it the ideal specimen for these uses.
Care of Little Gem Magnolia :
- Although Magnolia trees can be planted from a container into the landscape any time of
year in our North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscapes, Magnolias
are very wide for their size making transplanting sometimes difficult, so if you
decide to move
one from one location to another in the yard be sure to do it in winter or spring
for the best result possible.
- Water every day during the establishment period, See watering your newly planted
more information. Magnolia’s must be watched for the first one to two seasons after
or transplanted in the landscape and supplemental water supplied in any time of
drought. They are
slower to establish themselves into the landscape than many other trees and should
well once a week when local rainfall is scarce.
- Magnolias respond well to pruning and should be pruned 6 inches deeper than where
would like to see the re-growth appear. Everywhere you trim the tree will sprout new
and begin to branch out and fill in. So if you have a sparcely foliated Magnolia
tree get out the
pruners and remove as many growing tips as possible, prune deeper into the branch in
foliated areas to get them to branch out and fill in the gaps.
- Provide a 1 ft diameter circle of mulched area where grass is kept from growing
for each inch
of caliper (or diameter) of trunk measured 4 inches from the ground
- Fertilize each spring with a mixture of milorganite and a slow release poly coated
such as Osmocote or Stay Green general purpose plant food, sprinkling the fertilizer
the mulch circle underneath the foliage of the tree.