Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’)
- Recommended Use: Shade tree or feature tree
- Exposure: Full sun
- Size: Height: 30 to 35 feet; Width: 12 to 15 feet
- Habit: Upright tree
- Bloom Time: Late spring through summer, with sparse flowers appearing through October
- Maintenance Category: Low maintenance
- Water Use: Average
- Highlights: A native evergreen, the low-maintenance dwarf Southern magnolia showcases slender and compact leaves, which give Little Gem its distinct look. Often more upright and pyramidal in shape than many southern magnolias without sacrificing the large, iconic blooms.
Few trees invoke the feeling of the old Southern homestead like our native Southern magnolia, and Little Gem is no exception. Southern magnolias are wonderful for pollinators because of their fragrant white flowers that begin blooming in late spring and continue until fall. The Southern magnolia flower is also the state flower of Louisiana. These trees thrive in Louisiana’s climate and native soils and provide year-round landscape aesthetics. For these reasons and many more, Southern magnolia Little Gem was selected as a 2018 Louisiana Super Plant. One of the more compact commercial cultivars, Little Gem will grow between 30 and 35 feet tall and 12 and 15 feet wide. Little Gem can be grown as a dense hedge or a feature foundation tree like other Southern magnolias. Little Gem has smaller leaves than many of the other Southern magnolias, but still provides the dark green, glossy foliage with rusty-brown undersides that are attractive year-round.
- Prefers moderately to slightly acidic soils, a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
- Does best in full sun; however, will grow in partial shade. Best to get 8-plus hours of direct sun.
- Likes well-drained soils but will tolerate moist soils. Does not do well in overly compacted soils or flood-prone areas.
- Compact does not necessarily mean small. This dwarf southern magnolia will grow up to 35 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
- Upright tree with a mostly pyramidal shape.
- Moderately quick-growing magnolia, considering its overall dwarf habit.
Care and Maintenance
- Supply sufficient water until established. Typically will not need watering after established in landscape.
- Apply 4 inches of mulch around the base to prevent soil from drying out and ensure proper root health.
- Plant from the fall to early spring. Light fertilizer will be helpful for the first couple of years during early spring.
- Lower branches may be removed for aesthetics, but it is not necessary.
- No major pests have been identified for Little Gem Magnolia in Louisiana. However, a minor scale issue has been observed as well as algal leaf spot, but these are typically seen less in Little Gem than in other Southern magnolias.