Magnolia trees can be transplanted by one person as long as the tree is up to 7 feet tall. Larger trees must be transplanted by employees of landscape companies with special equipment.
Tips on how to transplant magnolia trees
- Water the magnolia the day before transplanting.
- Dig up the magnolia at least 2 feet away from the trunk.
- Dig deep enough to save as many roots as possible.
- Move the magnolia to its new location as quickly as possible without letting the root ball dry out.
- Plant the magnolia in a hole that is twice as big as the roots.
- Do not deepen the trunk into the ground.
- Use a soil mix of native soil and organic matter for planting.
- Water the magnolia with at least 2 gallons of water after transplanting.
- Mulch the root zone with pine bark.
These are short tips for transplanting magnolia and you will learn more about each of them next. I also recommend you read the article How to Maintain Magnolias On Your Own.
When to transplant?
The best time to transplant magnolia is early spring. It is important that the soil has already thawed but the buds are still dormant.
The best weather for transplanting is a cloudy and humid day. Also, morning or evening is better than mid-day.
Do not transplant magnolia if it has only been growing in its previous location for 1-2 years. Only a fully rooted magnolia can be transplanted from one place to another. Also, it should not be transplanted more than three times in its lifetime.
Avoid transplanting when the magnolia has already produced leaves, as this can lead to the loss of the tree. Also, do not transplant in the summer heat under any circumstances.
Fall is also not a good time to move the magnolia. This is because the tree will not take root by winter and may be severely damaged or even die.
To make the transplanting more successful you should prune the roots of the magnolia. This should be done the previous fall.
Use a trench shovel with a long, narrow blade. Stick the blade all the way in, cutting the roots in the ground. Do this around the magnolia at least 2 feet from the trunk, but it is better if it is done in a drip line.
By doing this you will cut off some of the roots and new roots will grow closer to the trunk. If you do this in early fall, the root system will be partially restored by the following spring. As a result, it will be much easier for the tree to tolerate transplanting.
Water the magnolia 1-2 days before transplanting. Use at least 2 gallons of water. As a result, the tree will accumulate enough water to move successfully and the soil on the roots will hold up better.
Be sure to dig a hole in the new location before transplanting. You need to plant the dug magnolia in its new location as quickly as possible. If you delay, the root system can dry out and the tree will die.
Also, mix the soil from the new planting hole with the same amount of good quality compost. This is the soil mix you will use to plant the magnolia tree.
How to dig up and replant?
Dig up the magnolia tree so as not to damage the roots. To do this, step at least 2 feet away from the trunk.
But it’s ideal if you dig at the distance of the drip line. That is, the distance that the magnolia branches extend.
Use a shovel with a long, sharp blade. Dig at least 2-3 feet deep. Start digging vertically downward, but at a depth of 2 feet, change the angle of the shovel to 45 degrees moving toward the center of the root system.
Gently pull out the root ball and place it on the burlap. Take care not to shake the soil off the roots. It is better if you get another person to help as the roots can be quite heavy.
Move the magnolia without delay to a new location. If the distance is long, use a wheelbarrow.
Place the magnolia in the new hole so that the surface of the root ball is 1 inch above the surface of the environment. To achieve this level, fill the bottom of the hole with soil mix.
Then fill all the space in the hole with the soil you prepared earlier and compact a little with your foot. Water the magnolia with 2-3 gallons of water.
After transplanting, watch the moisture of the soil around the roots for two years. As soon as the soil dries out more than 1 to 2 inches, water the magnolia with a few gallons of water.
Be sure to mulch the root zone to dry it out more slowly. Use pine bark or compost for this. The layer of mulch should be about 2-3 inches thick. Avoid volcano mulching, which means do not bury the trunk in the mulch.
If the weather is sunny and hot after transplanting, shade the magnolia. Use a garden umbrella or shading net and a frame. The shade should remain for at least a few weeks.
Do not cut back the magnolia the first year after transplanting as this will cause additional stress. Also, do not fertilize it because it will be rooting in the first season and you should not expect any significant growth of branches and leaves.