Propagation of the Little Gem Magnolia Tree

... The Little Gem is among the smallest of magnolia trees.

Moonlight and magnolias — the quintessential image of the Southern garden. If you're looking to grow these romantic trees but don't have a lot of room, consider the smaller Little Gem magnolia tree. There are several recommended ways to propagate the Little Gem magnolia tree. Add this charming specimen to your garden or landscape plan.

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The Little Gem

The Little Gem is the most compact magnolia cultivar, growing in a shrub-like fashion and maturing between 15 and 20 feet high. The Little Gem boasts 6-inch flowers and 4-inch leaves at a young age. Its flowers and leaves are smaller than standard varieties of magnolia.

Growing the Little Gem

Like other magnolia cultivars, the Little Gem is easily grown and pest-resistant. As an evergreen, it is an attractive tree no matter what the season. Moving the tree after planting may cause problems. According to the United States National Arboretum, the root system of these trees is unusual, consisting of ropelike and unbranched roots. Think twice about moving the Little Gem if the trunk exceeds 4 inches in diameter. Sever a few of the roots before moving it by cutting some roots on the inside of the root ball. This aids the roots in branching out and establishing itself in its new location. Water and mulch the transplanted tree regularly.


If there are already Little Gem trees in your garden, you may find seedlings under the tree to re-plant. However, propagation is generally done by seed, grafting or from cuttings made in the summer. William C. Welch, a horticultural professor at Texas A & M University, recommends cuttings from full-size trees as the best way to propagate as the flowers may bloom within a few years of propagation while seedlings may not bloom for as many as 20 years. If growing from seed, collect seeds immediately after the fruit matures, usually in early fall. Spread the fruit outside to dry until its opens, a process which may take several days. Shake the seeds from the dried fruit to retrieve them.

Growing Conditions

The Little Gem magnolia tree does well in various locations, from full sun to partially shaded. It prefers acidic, well-drained soil and tolerates drought. The magnolia, a native of the American South, does best in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7 to 9. Grass will generally not grow under a magnolia, so keep that in mind when planning a garden location.