Little Gem Southern Magnolia
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Grace and sophistication—southern style. Y’all won’t find a classier broadleaved evergreen tree than the Little Gem Southern Magnolia. Clothed year-round in a dense mantle of lustrous foliage, this medium-sized ornamental tree always looks dapper. The top of each rich green leaf is polished to a high gloss, and the underside looks as if it is covered in dark brown suede. Beginning in late spring and continuing over a long season, you’ll be greeted by the exquisite lemony fragrance of Little Gem’s creamy white blossoms whenever you step out your door. You can also snip a bloom for the house, and one flower will fill a room with its heavenly scent. Your Yankee cousins will be so jealous.
- Hardiness Zone: 7
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Southern Magnolia grows wild south of the Mason-Dixon Line from North Carolina to Florida and west to Texas, mostly sticking close to the coastal regions. It can become an enormous, regal tree. The national champion grows in Smith County, Mississippi, and tops out at an incredible 122 feet; its trunk is more than 6 feet in diameter. Little Gem Southern Magnolia was selected in 1952 by nurseryman Warren Steed of Candor, North Carolina from a crop of seedlings he had raised. The new plant was more compact than most other Southern Magnolias and smaller in all its parts. The U.S. National Arboretum helped to get Little Gem more widely distributed beginning in 1974, and it is now one of the most popular Southern Magnolias you can buy.
Southern Magnolia leaves often reach 10 inches in length, but Little Gem’s leaves only measure about 4 or 5 inches long. Likewise, a typical Southern Magnolia flower in full bloom may span 12 inches, while Little Gem’s blossoms measure 5 inches or so. They are profusely borne at a very young age, however, and carry all the fragrance of larger flowers.
How to Grow
Give this southern belle a luxurious home in rich, moist, deep, well-drained soil. It prefers acid conditions, which exist naturally in many of the eastern states anyway. Regular water is critical during the establishment period, although constantly wet soil will spell trouble. Irrigate with the Bower & Branch Elements™ Watering System to get your tree off to a good start. Little Gem Southern Magnolia is a shallow-rooting tree, so mulch it well and avoid disturbing the root zone. Site your tree in full sun or part shade and shelter it from strong winter winds. This is especially important in areas where Little Gem is borderline-hardy.
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Size C Trees:
6-7' Tall - Grown in our #25 tree container. Like the Size B version this will be a landscape staple for years to come but at this size will start impacting right away.
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