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magnolia grandiflora 'little gem'

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

Magnolia grandiflora, as its name suggests, is grown around the world as a large and magnificent ornamental tree, known for its glossy leaves with velvety brown undersides as well as the huge white/ivory flowers that are some 25cm across. But most of us just don’t have enough space in our gardens for a tree that in its natural habitat grows in excess of 30m tall. That’s where Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ comes into the picture.

‘Little Gem’ offers all the magnificence of its big daddy species but in a compact package just right for smaller gardens and containers. ‘Little Gem’ is an upright-growing small tree growing 6 – 8m tall and featuring perfect, fragrant white flowers 12 – 15cm in diameter that bloom mostly in early autumn and late summer. In the last decade, the glossy green leaves with the downy brown undersides have been a favourite for weddings, and are still very much sought after. This variety is easy to grow and suffers from very few diseases or insect attacks. It is perfect for patios in large containers, as a screening tree or as a specimen tree.

What the Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ needs

  • Light – plant in full sun or partial shade with at least four hours of direct sunlight a day.
  • Rich soil – loamy soil that retains moisture throughout the year.
  • Water – newly planted trees need constant monitoring, and watering at least three times a week. Once established they only need watering once a week. Container plants need to be checked more often.
  • Food – regular applications of a balanced garden fertiliser from autumn to spring to keep them healthy and ensure good flowering.
  • Mulch – right to the drip line to keep the soil moist. These magnolias will grow well in most areas of the country, although certain areas will require a little more care.

Water well during dry summers in winter-rainfall regions; protect from dry winds and keep up with watering in dry, arid regions; protect from hot weather in summer-rainfall areas, which may scorch the leaves, and extreme winter cold, which may damage young plants. The trees can be pruned to keep them neat and dead flowers should be removed to keep the plant looking good. Autumn is the perfect time to plant these beauties, so find a spot for one in your garden.