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How Much Water Does A Magnolia Tree Need?

Water is an integral part of the life of all organisms. But everyone has different requirements in this regard.

Water the magnolia as soon as the soil around the roots is a little more than 1 inch dry. Use at least 2 gallons of water each time. This watering schedule should be followed for the first 2 growing seasons.

This is a short answer, but this topic is much more in-depth. So in this article, we will look at all the water needs of a magnolia. In addition, please read the Main Care Guide for Magnolias.

How Much Water Does A Magnolia Tree Need

Water requirements

In general, magnolia needs watering for the first 2 years after planting or transplanting. The reason is that the root system grows relatively slowly, so it is not able to provide enough water in the heat.

So you have to constantly monitor the moisture of the soil near the roots. Use your finger or a stick to see how deep the soil has dried out. If it is deeper than about 2 inches, it is time to water.

The amount of water for each tree should be about 2 gallons. If the magnolia tree is very small, 1 gallon will suffice. For specimens over 7 feet tall, 3 gallons will be needed.

It is best to use a drip hose for watering. Place it near the root zone and turn it on for a few minutes. The pressure should be medium to minimal.

This way you will get water to all parts of the root system. It will not be a waste of water.

Usually, after 2 years the tree will be fully rooted and then will not need to be watered at all. An exception might be if the weather is extremely hot and dry for more than a month.

Watering should be reduced in autumn. At this time, let the soil dry out by 2 inches or a little more. This is especially true for deciduous magnolias.

In winter, you don’t need to water the magnolia at all. This is when it is dormant and does not need much water.

The exception may be if the magnolia is growing in zone 9-10 and the winter is very dry and warm. In this situation, you can water the magnolia with a small amount of water once every two weeks.

Too much water

Watering a magnolia on a schedule is a sure way to overwater it. If it has rained and the ground is wet, you don’t need to water anymore, no matter what the schedule tells you.

Even if it’s been a week since it rained, it doesn’t mean you need to water. Some types of soil can hold water long enough. This is especially true for clay soils.

So you have to look at the moisture content of the soil first to determine when to water.

If you over-water your magnolia, it is not necessarily a disaster. It is a water-loving tree and can tolerate a short over-watering.

However, if it has its feet wet for a long time, root rot can occur. This is a rather unpleasant disease because it is not easily cured.

The first symptom of root rot is the yellowing of the leaves. It should also be very wet around the roots.

If these symptoms are common in your case, stop watering immediately. Remove any extra water sources from the roots, if any (water from the roof, etc.).

There is nothing more you can do. If the tree is strong it will beat the disease on its own. As it heals, let the soil dry out more than 2 inches and water no more than 1 gallon of water.

Not enough water

Magnolia dehydration can happen much more often than overwatering. This sometimes happens in the first summer after planting.

This can be caused by planting too late or by a prolonged transplant shock. If you planted a magnolia in late spring or early summer, it may not grow enough roots for the summer heat.

As a result, the magnolia will suffer from a lack of water. Symptoms of this will be dropping leaves. If the sun was strong at this time, the leaves may turn brown around the edges.

To avoid this, only plant or transplant magnolia in early spring. When replanting, take care not to damage the root system.

In the first two years, don’t let the soil dry out more than 1 to 2 inches between waterings. Also, if possible, place shade on the magnolia in the first summer.

In addition, be sure to mulch the root zone. Use only organic matter for this purpose. Pine bark or compost works best.

A layer of mulch should be at least 2 inches. Avoid pouring mulch on the trunk of the tree. The place where the roots connect to the trunk should be free of mulch.


Saturday 28th of October 2023

Good information, thnk youfor the specifics. Just planted a 5 yr old magnolia in our front yard. We live in S.E. Texas (Houston suburb) and was curious about watering a freshly transplanted tree. Thank you.

Igor Viznyy

Sunday 29th of October 2023

Hi, Michael. Water a newly planted tree when the soil in the root zone is 1 inch dry. After watering, the soil should be moist but not boggy, i.e. do not flood the tree.

Once the tree is established (after about a year), watering can be reduced or stopped altogether. Magnolias that have been growing in my garden for many years I almost never water.