Did you know there is a dwarf magnolia? Little Gem magnolia is an award winning dwarf variety of the traditional Southern Magnolia. Because it is smaller, it can be used in spaces where a full-size southern magnolia would be crowded and overwhelming. This dwarf magnolia is slow growing to 30-35 feet while the southern magnolia can reach 80 feet. Its lower limb spread is also smaller, 10-15 feet rather than 45 feet for the larger magnolia.

It is evergreen like the larger variety, but the leaves are smaller so they do not create the mess we associate with the larger variety. The blossoms are smaller than the traditional magnolia. Their scent is wonderful, and the blooming season is longer. It blooms in late spring and early summer. Often it is a repeat bloomer.

For those of you who may want to add one or more Little Gems to you landscape, here is some general information about them. This tree does well in partial shade but has more blooms in full sun. It likes to be kept moderately moist but with good drainage. It is especially important to keep it well watered for the first two or three years after planting. After it has been established for two or three years, it should be fertilized spring and fall with a granular or slow release fertilizer.

Mary Wilkerson, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


Now is the time to get magnolia seeds from that special tree you love. From mid-September into early October the Magnolia grandiflora (and its variants) produce the cones with bright red seeds sticking out. These cones (called follicles) and seeds are pretty in their own right. To propagate the seeds take the follicles when the seeds are apparent, and lay them out for a few days to dry a little and open up some more. Shake or lightly pull the red seeds from the cone and gather them up. Soak them in water for three days and remove the red part (the aril). Just squeeze the aril and the seed will spurt out. Let them dry for two days and then pack in moist vermiculite or light seed mix soil and store for 2-6 months at 35-42 degrees and plant in the early spring. Do not store them dry or they will not be viable. An alternate method is to plant them now and in early spring you may be rewarded with a new Magnolia. A good general reference for this and other plant propagation is the book by the same name, “Plant Propagation” by Toogood. Enjoy your Magnolias.

Edward Bryant, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Trees