Thinking you want to grow a magnolia tree? Learn how to grow a magnolia tree with this care and growing guide.
With many species to choose from, over 80 species, you’ll find a magnolia tree that best suits your needs and USDA zones.
They are very easy to grow and if you live in the southern United States you can easily choose a non-hybrid variety. In other areas of the United States hybrid varieties are best, due to the fact magnolias love hot weather.
They all produce very fragrant large flowers that come in a wide variety of colors-white, pink flowers, purple, and yellow.
Blossoms are tough and resistant to most damaging insects. They become very tall and beautiful trees and have medium to dark green, glossy leaves. The blossoms are always large and are spectacular to look at.
When you have your tree selected and home, it’s time to decide where to plant. It does need to have some protection from frost if you don’t live in the southern part of the United States.
It is best to plant the magnolia on the north side of your home. This gives the tree the best protection from the last frost of the year.
Frost can damage your tree in early spring if the buds have appeared. The north side of your home receives the least amount of sun, which will hasten the buds from developing.
Make sure to select enough room for your tree to grow. A magnolia tree can grow to at least 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Dig a planting hole large enough to spread out the entire sapling’s root system. Dig deep.
Add some water to the hole, set your sapling in, and cover it with dirt. Fill the hole up and water again to dampen the ground.
Water enough every day to moisten the soil, but do not overwater to the point the dirt is soggy. Continue the watering until the plant becomes quite established.
Gardeners throughout the South enjoy planting and caring for magnolia trees. Although there are many varieties, the most popular and well-known is the magnolia grandiflora, better known as the Southern magnolia.
With its huge creamy white flowers, and dark glossy green leaves. The fragrant flowers have a sweet and slightly lemony smell. The hardy magnolia tree is a year-round favorite in the South. Magnolias can grow as high as 90 feet.
Southern magnolias will grow in full sun or partial shade. Plant them in slightly acidic soil that is also well-drained soil.
When choosing your trees check to see how tall they will grow so you can find a site in your yard with enough room. Magnolias are usually grown as a specimen tree or as a background for shrubs, rather than part of the grassy area of the lawn.
They are messy. They drop old leaves in the spring and seed pods in the summer. If you plant your magnolia as part of a bed you can allow these leaves and seed pods to help out as mulch.
Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time raking and bagging the leaf litter. As the magnolia ages, you’ll also see surface roots. This is another good reason for not planting the tree in the middle of the grass.
Although you can plant magnolias throughout the year, most gardeners agree late summer and early fall are the best times for planting. This is also the time of year when balled-and-burlapped young trees appear in the local nursery.
Best Tips For Planting The Tree:
It’s important to dig a hole that is large enough for your tree. The hole should be two times wider than the magnolia’s root ball and as deep as the root ball.
Plant the tree with the top of the root ball protruding just a little from the hole. Fill the hole with dirt and water. Rake mulch around the base of the tree. Just make sure you know The Right Way to Mulch a Tree.
Continue to water for the next few weeks, unless your area is receiving rainfall regularly. Fertilize after the tree’s first month in your yard or when you see new growth.
You have to give it enough time to establish itself in the ground. Use 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 fertilizer. Continue fertilizing during the tree’s first three years. Magnolias are durable trees and usually survive with little help from the gardener.
You will see the tree lose a large number of leaves during its first season. This is perfectly normal. There is no need to worry about insects attacking the tree. The magnolia has no enemies in the pest world.
How To Grow A Magnolia Tree Maintenance:
Very little maintenance is needed, but you will have to keep your tree trimmed. Dead branches can be removed at any time of the year, but keep the vigorous trimming until after the tree is done blooming.
Do not over-trim a young sapling. You can trim the lower branches as the tree grows but always keep at least one sturdy branch. Snip off any tiny branches that are forming on large, main branches.
If any branches are crisscrossing each other, you should eliminate one. Don’t trim too much from the middle of the tree will look sparse and butchered.
Yearly trimming is a good way to make sure the tree stays nicely shaped. To cut out unwanted branches, use a hand saw and cut as close to the tree trunk as possible. Do not leave stubs, these are unsightly and are prone to bug and disease infestations.
Take care of your tree and enjoy the blooms in late spring and early summer. They are quite magnificent.
The Sweetbay magnolia is a good choice for patio containers or a smaller yard. Unlike the Southern magnolia tree, the Sweetbay rarely grows past 30 feet.
The leaves and flowers are similar to the Southern magnolia but smaller. It occurs naturally in swamplands in the South. The Sweetbay produces a fruit that is favored by squirrels, songbirds, and rodents.
The leaves of the magnolia tree are popular in decorations. When brought inside, they will stay glossy green for several weeks.
The large leaves are frequently used in wreaths and can easily be spray painted any color of your choice.
The Best Time to Prune Magnolia Trees:
Magnolia trees are traditional, majestic trees that can be either evergreen magnolias or deciduous magnolias.
According to the United States National Arboretum, there are over 80 different species of magnolia trees. Such as star magnolia, little gem, and saucer magnolia, just to name a few of the magnolia species.
They have a range of sizes, colors, and seasonal preferences. All magnolia trees form a unique shallow roots system and resist transplanting.
Once a magnolia tree establishes, it’s important to prune it as little as possible to keep it healthy and maintain it in its given position.
Magnolia trees are resistant to change and don’t take well to pruning once they’re mature. Gardeners often prune young magnolia trees to train them, but then leave them once they’re mature.
Growers should only prune mature magnolia trees if it’s necessary.
According to Aggie Horticulture, the best time to prune any mature tree is in late winter or early fall, when the tree is dormant. This causes little damage to the tree and allows the tree to renew its resources for spring growth.
The Daily Telegraph suggests that gardeners who need to prune their magnolia trees should do so carefully. Pruning is best done in the early morning or late afternoon, to best protect the tree, and should consist only of cutting away very long or overlarge branches to control growth. Gardeners should never cut into old wood and then leave it since magnolia trees heal slowly.
How To Grow A Magnolia Tree TLDR;
There are lots of different varieties of magnolias so choose the one best for your location and zone. Most species of magnolias grow to be large trees.
The most common species have large glossy foliage and get large flower buds that turn to large magnolia flowers when in full bloom. The beautiful flowers come in different colors depending on the tree planted.
Magnolias like slightly acid soils and not highly alkaline soils. The soil should be well-drained and fertile. They can be planted in full to partial shade. But they do best in full sun and in warmer climates.
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