S & J Nursery’s Guide to
Little Gem Magnolia
in the Northeast Florida Landscape
( Magnolia grandiflora ‘ Little Gem’ )
Origins of the Little Gem Magnolia:
– A selection of the North American Native Magnolia Grandiflora bred for its small
leaves, year round bloom and small mature size.
Preferred Exposure for Little Gem Magnolia / Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Little Gem’:
– Full sun to partial sun /shade situations are tolerated in the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine
Foliage of the Little Gem Magnolia / Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ :
– Little Gem remains evergreen keeping its foliage in the winter
season and is smaller than that of a typical Magnolia Grandiflora growing 4-8 inches in length.
– Foliage of the the Little Gem Magnolia tree is a deep dark glossy green on the
upper side of the leaf and a soft fuzzy reddish brown to tan color on the underside of the leaf.
Magnolia Little Gem Soil Preference / Salt tolerance:
– Magnolia Little Gem
will prefer slightly acidic soil but will tolerate sand, loam, clay,
slightly alkaline and even occasionally wet
– Only moderately salt tolerant, not for direct coastal exposure
Little Gem Magnolia / Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ Size Variance:
– Magnolia Little Gem has been touted as a dwarf magnolia selection since it’s
introduction, and indeed it is MUCH smaller than what is typically found in Magnolia Grandiflora. The problem
comes in that when they were introduced they were said to reach height s of 12-15 ft and you will still find
ALOT of literature that shows that growth range for the Little Gem Magnolia. However it is now thought
to be able to grow double the size of its predicted mature height and has actually been found to be
capable of growing closer to 30-35 ft in height and 8-12 ft wide.
Magnolia Little Gem Growth Habit:
– Little Gem Magnolia has a narrow oval to pyramydal habit and tends to be much higher than it is
– Little Gem Magnolia trees are slow to moderate growers.
Blooms on the Little Gem Magnolia:
– These trees have a large and highly fragrant creamy white leathery blooms
that reach 6-10 inches across with a central cone that will enlarge and open up after the petals have gone
to expose beautiful bright red seeds that are utilized by various wildlife in the North Florida | Jacksonville |
St. Augustine area landscapes and gardens.
– Little Gems tend to bloom much longer than other magnolias having blooms in
spring and intermittantly throughout the year.
Little Gem Magnolia Water Requirements:
– Magnolia grandiflora trees need daily water after being planted from a
container or transplanted into the landscape and supplemental irrigation during periods of reduced local
rainfall for the first season or two.
Butterfly or Bird Attracting:
– Magnolias thickly foliated branches make ideal nesting sites for Northeast Floridas birds. Blooms are followed
bya fuzzy tan to brown central seed cone that matures in the fall opening up to expose beutiful bright glossy red
coated seeds that are utilized by local wildlife.
Best Uses For Little Gem Magnolia in the Northeast Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine
– Southern Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ is an ideal selection for a smaller space area where a broader
spreading Southern Magnolia selection might be out of place.
– Little Gem Magnolia trees will supply excellent coverage to screen large unwanted views and
will remain evergreen in the winter time and have the added bonus of the large fragrant blooms.
– Use Little Gem for house foundation plantings where you wan ta striking accent tree to attract
interest to your landcape.
– Southern Magnolias also make excellent street trees.
Care of Little Gem Magnolia:
– Although Magnolia trees can be
planted from a container into the landscape any time of the
year in our North Florida |
Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscapes, Magnolias root systems
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 trees for
more information. Magnolia’s must be
watched for the first one to two seasons after being planted
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 be watered
well once a week when local rainfall
– Magnolias respond well to pruning, when shaping a younger tree
they should be pruned 6 inches deeper than where you
would like to see the re-growth
appear. Everywhere you trim the tree will sprout new growth
and begin to branch out and fill in.
So if you have a scarcely foliated Magnolia tree get out the pruner
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.
– Magnolias have lots of
branches that will be smaller in diameter in comparison to other larger growing shade trees like an Oak.
Prune out the occasional occurrence of a branch at a sharper angle than 45 degrees or if damaged etc. by removing
the branch all the way back to the trunk.
– 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 level.
– Fertilize each spring with a
mixture of Milorganite and a slow release poly coated plant food
such as Osmocote or Stay Green
general purpose plant food, sprinkling the fertilizer around
the mulch circle underneath the
foliage of the tree.