The Q&A Archives: Magnolia

Question: My daughter recently purchased a Little Gem Magnolia tree for a gift for me. I have tried with out success to grow Magnolia trees using mail order starts. Please give me any information about this tree that you have. Will it do will in this zone? What size will it be at full maturity? How quickly will it reach full maturity? When would be the best time to plant the tree? It is about three feet tall and in a container.

Answer: Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' is an evergreen Southern Magnolia. General growing guidelines include planting it in full sunshine, in rich, loose soil. Magnolias require deep watering during the growing season and prefer to have their roots shaded. You can accomplish this by spreading a generous amount of mulch over the soil after planting. When you plant, set the magnolia at the same depth it was growing in the container. 'Little Gem' is the smallest of the magnolias, and would rather grow into a shrub than into a single-trunked tree. You can train it into a tree with careful pruning. Look for small, lustrous dark green leaves covered with bronzy-brown hairs beneath. Flowers are 3-4 inches across, and will be in continual production except in the summer heat. It's hardy to zone 8, so it will need winter protection in your region. 'Little Gem' has the potential to grow 20' tall with a 10' spread, but it will take 20 years for it to reach its mature height.

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