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Dwarf Magnolia Tree

A Close Look At The Dwarf Magnolia Tree

The dwarf magnolia tree is but one variety of the every popular Southern magnolia, but due to its size, is a tree that can find a home in smaller yards and gardens. We typically associate magnolia trees with the deep south, and rightly so. There are many different varieties of magnolia however, and if the right variety a chosen, a magnolia can be grown in most climates.

One of the more popular varieties of the dwarf magnolia tree is the “Little Gem” magnolia. This tree, when first planted, tends to resemble a shrub more than a tree, and some pruning is usually required. It is hardy in USDA Zones 7 through 9. It can be successfully grown all along the West Coast, from British Columbia down into California, through New Mexico and Arizona, and into Texas. The range then extends through the states of the Deep South and up the Atlantic Seaboard, extending as far north as the Boston area. The tree has a preference for moist climates that range from quite warm to temperate. The tree will not usually do well in hot dry climates.

The dwarf magnolia tree, also known as the Tulip Tree, is a heavy bloomer, featuring white, very fragrant blossoms. The dwarf magnolia typically attains a height of between 20' and 25', with a 15' spread. Its maximum height is roughly one-quarter that of its cousin, the giant Southern Magnolia.

Pests And Disease - The dwarf magnolia tree sometimes suffers from infestation of scale, certain borers, weevils, and leaf spot. It is mostly young trees that are affected. When older trees are affected, damage tends to be slight, often limited to a few dead branches at most. Cankers, which may kill branches, can usually be pruned out. Keeping the tree healthy by giving it sufficient water, especially during dry weather, will tend to keep pests and diseases at bay.

The foliage of the dwarf magnolia tree is quite dense, and the crown of the tree grows in a more or less pyramidal fashion. The tree is an evergreen, with the leaves remaining green the year around. Flowers appear in the summer, followed by small fruits which, while not edible for humans, are a favorite of birds. The bark of the dwarf magnolia tree is quite thin and easily damaged, so trees are best located where mechanical damage to the trunk is unlikely to occur.

Tree Or Bush? - When growing a dwarf magnolia tree, the plant will tend to send up several shoots. This will be fine if the intent is to grow the plant as a bush or shrub, but if a dwarf magnolia tree is the aim, the shoots should be cut back to the strongest one, and that shoot will eventually develop into a sturdy trunk.

Pruning And Transplanting - The dwarf magnolia tree takes well to light pruning. A great deal of pruning is usually not required when growing the plant as a tree, but will be needed when growing it as a hedge or windbreak. The root system needs to be taken into account when deciding upon a planting location for the tree. The roots of the dwarf magnolia tree are fairly shallow and quite extensive. A 20' tall tree can easily have a root system that extends 80' beyond the trunk. Needless to say, once mature, this tree will not transplant well, if at all. Smaller trees, only a few feet in height may be transplanted, but the root systems are still extensive, and it may take the tree a long time to recover when transplanted.

The dwarf magnolia tree may be propagated form seed or by cuttings. The latter is often preferable as the shape and size of a tree grown from seed is not always predictable.



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