Magnolia, Southern Magnolia 'Little Gem'

Magnolia grandiflora

Family: Magnoliaceae
Genus: Magnolia (mag-NO-lee-a) (Info)
Species: grandiflora (gran-dih-FLOR-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Little Gem



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)


USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

By grafting

By air layering

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Little Rock, Arkansas

Arcadia, California

Oakley, California

Van Nuys, California

Wildomar, California

Waterford, Connecticut

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Wilmington, Delaware

Auburndale, Florida

Bartow, Florida

Dunnellon, Florida

Maitland, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida

Punta Gorda, Florida

Sumterville, Florida

Barnesville, Georgia

Decatur, Georgia

Bargersville, Indiana

Williams, Indiana

Dawson Springs, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

New Orleans, Louisiana(2 reports)

Scott, Louisiana

Millersville, Maryland

Carriere, Mississippi

Las Vegas, Nevada

Brooklyn, New York

Roslyn, New York

Yonkers, New York

Raleigh, North Carolina

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Souderton, Pennsylvania

Columbia, South Carolina

Easley, South Carolina

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina(2 reports)

Okatie, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Crossville, Tennessee

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee(2 reports)

Austin, Texas

Bedford, Texas

China, Texas

Converse, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Houston, Texas

Katy, Texas

New Caney, Texas

Nome, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spring, Texas

Orem, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Springville, Utah

Charlottesville, Virginia

Gordonsville, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia

Round Hill, Virginia

Ames Lake, Washington

Redmond, Washington

Spanaway, Washington

Union Hill-Novelty Hill, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 17, 2020, Beetreeguy from Gordonsville, VA wrote:

'Little Gem' hasn't been enthusiastic about growing here in the Virginia piedmont (zone 7a). Mine gets sun most of the day, being in the middle of the yard, and it might have benefited from being planted in a more protected spot. It looks nice, but grows slowly. It's been happier since I started mulching, which helps younger broadleaf evergreens in colder areas to keep their roots moist and unfrozen. The leaves on Little Gem are smaller than standard magnolias, and the new leaves tend to point upward. That reveals their brownish underside, giving the tree a somewhat brownish appearance from a distance. Whether that's appealing is a matter of opinion, but I think it looks great with conifers and Japanese maples as companions. Its best feature is that it flowers well, and can continue bloomi... read more


On Oct 21, 2020, nyy_ct119 from Waterford, CT wrote:

This variety blooms profusely in the late summer and fall in a coastal location in southeastern Connecticut (zone 7a). It has good siting being on the southwest side of the house, which helps with overwintering in the northern part of its adaptable range. It is fully evergreen in this climate (perhaps due to siting).

This plant is still blooming as I write this on October 21, 2020. It will be going into its third winter. It has smaller foliage than is normal for the species, and velvet-like, fuzzy, brown leaf undersides. A great landscape specimen for sure, but probably not as hardy with "open-exposure" siting as the 'Edith Bogue' or 'Bracken's Brown Beauty' varieties, which are fully hardy along the coastline of southern New England south of Boston.

It would... read more


On Nov 13, 2018, BorisBauer from Easley, SC wrote:

Often advertised as a compact, small evergreen magnolia, but in reality in time will easily grow to 24' or higher. The good news is that the width of the plant remains relatively column-tight in structure. 'Little Gem' blooms at an early age and tends to bloom from late Spring to early Fall. A choice tree for smaller garden settings or used in fencing in a border area.


On Nov 29, 2014, snowbound from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

I live in the frozen North, our winters are brutal; but I have a Little Gem magnolia in a large wooden container that I bring inside for the winter. So far I have had it for 2 years and it is beautiful, even now in November I have a flower blooming! I realize I probably won't be able to keep it surviving for ever but I will do my best. I will prune it a little next spring to keep it smaller, I adore southern magnolias and thought I would give this one a try, I have a lot of other magnolias which survive our winters outside, I definitely have a "thing" for all magnolias; but I love the large, glossy leaves of the southern ones and their larger flowers. So I keep telling my Little Gem how beautiful she is and hope I can keep her for a very long time.


On Jan 19, 2014, billyvanbakker from Yonkers, NY wrote:

Wone this at a silent auction at The New York Botanical Garden 25 years ago. Planted it against my home, Eastern exposure. Have suffered some snow load damage. Now it's about 21'. This magnolia blooms from June till frost in my zone 7 NY garden. Best of all 3 southern magnolia cultivars I grow.


On Jun 3, 2010, 1501island from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

I planted this tree in a north facing patio in fort lauderdale,fl about a year ago. It gets about 6 or 7 hours of full sun in the summer, and no sun in the winter. I fed it as directed in the early spring and have enormous new leaf growth and about 8 blooms already. Does anyone know what is going on? there is so much leaf growth that hasn't laid down yet, the blooms don't have the room to fully open! Any feed back appreciated.


On Jul 24, 2006, janlark from Auburndale, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Gorgeous small tree, symmetrical, slow to moderate growth, bronze underside to foliage adds interest, although some don't like it. Very little pruning needed except to remove suckers. Blooms prolifically although blossoms are short lived. We have two.


On May 11, 2006, violabird from Barnesville, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I highly recommend Little Gem. Stuck in a pot for 5 months it survived hot, wet, dry and dusty, the hurricane winds and still kept blooming. The huge fragrant flowers smell like lemon and I currently have 6 buds right now @ 5', it blooms late spring to fall for me. The only problem is the Japanese Beetles like it too.


On Mar 5, 2005, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

According to the tag on the tree (from the nursery) the Little Gem is the fastest growing of them all. Even though it doesn't get that tall (max's out at about 20'), it's supposedly faster growing. I'm curious to know for sure if someone has compared the growth rate.


On Dec 6, 2004, mantis212 from Roslyn, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Dec 6, 2004
Here in Long island on the Sound side next to Queens, this amazing mini-evergreen tree has survived and thrived in some of my zone's (6/7) nastiest weather. This will be its third winter and not one leave has browned or dropped do to the cold. When I purchased my "Little Gem" from a mail-order web site, it was all of 18" tall and already WITH TWO BUDS! I only paid $9 for it ! It has bloomed all three seasons that it has been in the ground. It gives me one or two blooms constantly all growing season but amazingly it's had five blooms at once. These flowers are huge on such a small and young tree. At 5" to 6" each, just one flower open is stunning. In the time it has graced my garden, it has grown to around 4'. As a testiment to Little Gem's blooming season range, ... read more


On Mar 15, 2004, patischell from Fort Pierce, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

The Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association has just chosen this plant to be one of it's "Plant of the Year" This program was established in 1998 by the FNGA to promote underused but proven plant material. For a plant to be considered a Florida Plant of the Year, it must have good pest resistance, require reasonable care and be fairly easy to grow.


On Jun 17, 2003, akitakitty from Gonzales, LA wrote:

I purchased a 'little gem' shortly after they became available at local nurseries 9 years ago and had extremely good results with it. in spite of planting it near the canopy of a water oak. it is probably 12-14 feet tall now and other than the usual "leaf litter" i would recommend it. i also started one from seed (very easy to do)2 years ago and it is about 2 feet tall in a pot. the fact that i live in so. louisiana (which is similar to the tropics) probably benefits the rate of growth. they are extremely popular down here and are beautiful planted as an evergreen screen or in groups of three.


On Jan 6, 2003, WAYNEB wrote:

'Little Gem' is a popular cultivar. It is more compact and slower growing than the species, usually reaching about half the height of the species. Height in the northern part of its range ( zones 6 and 7 ) will be closer to 15' to 25' and in warmer areas may approach 40'. The leaves are also about half the size of the species while the flowers are approximately the
same full size as the species.