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Little Gem Magnolia for Sale - Buying & Growing Guide

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Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem'

A smaller version of the South's greatest tree, the magnolia, the Little Gem magnolia tree brings lovely flowers and elegant form to gardens small and large — both in the South, and, because of its small stature, to those in the north who can grow it in containers. Little Gem, also known as Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem,' has all the attributes you'd expect of a hardy magnolia tree. It offers creamy white, fragrant blooms that last for months, along with a full, upright canopy made up of glossy dark evergreen leaves. It is drought-tolerant and doesn't attract deer, and this sturdy little tree can be grown outdoors as far north as Pennsylvania and Long Island. Here are a few more reasons to love the Little Gem magnolia tree:

  • This magnolia grows to only 15 to 20 feet tall when planted outdoors, with a spread of 7 to 10 feet.
  • It tolerates all types of soil including clay and loamy and sandy soils, and it loves acidic soil. 
  • A perfect specimen tree, it also makes a great hedge and can be used to line a sidewalk or driveway.
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Plant Care



The Little Gem magnolia tree loves full sun: six or more hours of direct sunlight a day.



Water young trees when soil 3 inches below the surface is dry; about once a week. Mature trees are drought-resistant.



Fertilize in spring with a balanced, slow release product, such as a 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 formula.

Planting and Care

Author Image
by Mary Van Keuren | Gardener (30+ Years Experience) – last update on May 2, 2022

Planting instructions

Site your Little Gem magnolia where it will get at least six hours of sun a day (it can tolerate some shade in hotter regions), in soil that drains well. Unpot your Little Gem and tease out any encircling roots, which can girdle the tree and eventually kill it. Dig a hole that’s as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Place the sapling in the hole, and while holding it upright, fill in around it with a good quality topsoil, tamping down as you go to eliminate air pockets. Water thoroughly. Add a 2- 3-inch layer of an organic mulch, such as bark chips, around the root zone to help conserve moisture, being careful that it does not touch the trunk.

Watering and nutrients

When newly planted, water your Little Gem magnolia several times a week. Once you see robust growth, cut back to once a week. When the tree is established and growing well, you only need to water it if the soil 2 to 3 inches below the surface is dry. Fertilize in the spring with a slow-release balanced fertilizer designed for landscape trees, such as a 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 formula.


Magnolias are pollinated primarily by beetles that have evolved specifically alongside the trees since prehistoric times. A single flower will have both male and female parts, but they mature at different times, thus avoiding the possibility of inbreeding. The resulting “fruit” is a cone-like structure containing red seeds that fall from the tree in fall.


Young magnolias may be pruned to establish the tree’s characteristic pyramidal shape, trimming off branches that are too low or poorly spaced. You can also prune out dead, diseased, or damaged limbs whenever you see them. For mature trees, look the tree over in early spring and trim lightly to enhance the shape.

Pests and diseases

The Little Gem magnolia tree is generally pest- and disease-resistant, and most gardeners will have no issues with the cultivar. A pest that occasionally preys on magnolias is magnolia scale, which can be controlled with horticultural oil. Magnolia borer may be an issue for young trees. Diseases include leaf spot and black mildew diseases, which are caused by fungal agents. Keep the area around the base of the tree clean of leaf litter to help avoid these problems.

Achieving maximum results

It’s hard to imagine that the stately magnolia tree could ever function as a container-grown specimen, but the Little Gem gives you the opportunity to do just that. If you live in the northern or midwestern states — or in any regions where the temperatures get below 10 degrees Fahrenheit in winter — your Little Gem can be grown as a patio plant and brought inside for winter. The constraints of the container will keep it from getting too large, and you can also prune to keep it to a manageable 5 or 6 feet. Choose a container with good drainage that is roughly twice the size of the root ball, and plant in a good-quality potting mix that is designed for acid-loving plants. When the tree is indoors, it may need additional watering, especially if your home is dry in the winter. Wipe the leaves down occasionally to keep dust off them, which can help eliminate spiders and aphids, as well.


Can my Little Gem magnolia be used for a hedge?

Yes, the Little Gem makes an excellent hedge or windbreak. Plant your trees about 6 feet apart — they will grow together enough to form a screen. You may need to do some additional pruning to shape the hedge as you'd like it.

How fast does the Little Gem magnolia tree grow?

You can expect moderate but steady growth from your Little Gem magnolia, with the tree adding 12 to 18 inches of new growth a year. You should see flowering from your Little Gem by its second or third year in your garden.

Can I plant flowers under my Little Gem magnolia?

The Little Gem magnolia is an excellent specimen tree for the garden, and it works well with other plants that can handle partial shade. Because it does not have a wide canopy, you should be able to grow plants such as hostas, astilbes, and ferns under it with no problem. Try heuchera, too, or plant hellebores for an attractive look in spring.

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Customer Reviews

Verified Buyer August 6, 2020 at 4:03pm
ratingMagnolia tree

Very good. Tree in good condition

Verified Buyer July 25, 2020 at 7:53pm
ratingMagnolia little Gem

Appears to be in good health so far hope to see new growth soon

Mature height
15-20 ft.
Mature width
8-10 ft.
Sunlight requirement
Full Sun
Growth rate
Botanical name
Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem'
Shipping exclusions
Grows Well In Zones
Growing Zones: 7-9 i Growing zones help determine if a particular plant is likely to grow well in a location. It identifies the average annual minimum winter temperatures across the U.S. provided as a map by the USDA.
(hardy down to -10°F)

Little Gem Magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem'
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