Little Gem Magnolia from S.C.

johnrobertJuly 27, 2010

I just returned from visiting My Daughter in Fort Mill,S.C.

While there I purchased a Little Gem Magnolia Tree to bring home to plant in the yard at My Home outside Niagara Falls,N.Y. I was told at the nursery that they felt the tree could survive the N.Y. winters. I'm looking for advice or info from others who may have planted this variety of Magnolia up north & the chances of survival & tips to keep it alive...

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Hi -- I live in the N.W. suburbs of Detroit. I have a Little Gem, an Edith Bogue, and a Bracken's Brown Beauty. All of them were planted in about 2004 or 2005 (can't remember exactly). A lot of people grow these in the north.

It can definitely survive your winters with just a little bit of work on your part. If possible, plant it somewhere in your yard that gets a lot of sun but is sheltered from west and north winds in the winter -- a few feet out from the south wall of a house would be ideal, for example. Remember, up north, these are going to be just shrubs anyway, probably at most 10 feet tall, so space isn't a big issue like it would be in the south, plus this is a small variety by nature.

In the winter, I protect mine by gathering paper lawn and leaf bags full of oak leaves from the neighborhood and completely surrounding them with a protective circle of these bags two bags high. It takes about 2 dozen bags to encircle them, since they are all planted together and are probably about 8 feet wide. I use stakes and heavy twine to secure the bags. Then, I throw an old quilt and a green tarp over the top and secure that down.

I cover them up around Thanksgiving and remove the covering at the end of March.

In the spring, depending upon the severity of the winter, the leaves can be perfectly fine or they can be all brown and dead. But, even if the leaves are dead, the tree is alive, and it grows back really quickly. It will be beautiful again by the middle of June, and it should bloom from June through early September, a few blooms at a time. IMO, the flowers of southern magnolia are so special they are worth it -- those waxy white petals and that sweet, lemony scent.

Also, I do a lot of floral crafts, so I do gather the fallen leaves for that, they're wonderful to make wreaths and so forth.

You could cover the tree with any kind of insulating structure you'd like -- the ultimate would be to make it a nice wooden box lined with foamboard. I just use the bags of leaves because they're free, easy to get, and do the job.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 9:33AM
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