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Magnolia Tree Care Guide

The exquisite flowers and large leaves of the Magnolia provide a wonderful view in any yard. This is the very reason why homeowners choose Magnolias for garden decoration.

Magnolia Care Tips

  • Plant magnolia in nutritious and slightly acidic soil.
  • Give it about 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Mulch the root zone with 2-3 inches of organic material.
  • Water the newly planted magnolia the first year as soon as the soil is 1 inch dry with two gallons of water.
  • Prune dry and damaged branches in early spring.
  • Fertilize the magnolia early in the season with slow-release pellets.
Magnolia Tree Care

Magnolia Swede Made

Plant profile

Care/requirements Magnolia
Hardiness: USDA zone 4-10
Size: Height 80 ft. and Width 40 ft.
Lifespan: 80-100 years
Shape: Wide canopy.
Type: Deciduous or evergreen tree.
Light requirements: 6-8 hours of direct sun per day. Partial sun.
Soil: Loam or amended soil.
Soil pH: 5.5-7.0 Grow best in slightly acidic soil.
Watering: First 1-2 years after planting when the soil is more than 2” dry.
Growth rate: Fast (1-2 feet per year)
Leaves color: Green.
Best time for planting: Early spring.
Pruning: Spring
Spacing: 20-40 feet apart (center to center).
Transplanting: Early fall or early spring.
Fertilizer: Balanced NPK, slow-release.
Deer resistant: No
Problems: Pests, diseases.

Planting

Early spring is the most appropriate time to plant magnolia. It will also be good if the planting day is wet and overcast.

Choose a location with no pockets of excessive moisture nearby (pond, etc.). There should also be at least a few hours of direct sun per day.

Magnolia can tolerate a wide range of soils, but a nutritious and loose substrate is best.

Dig a hole 2-3 times the size of your tree’s root system. Mix the resulting soil with the same amount of quality compost or peat.

Gently pull the magnolia from the pot and place it in the hole. The level of the potting soil and the garden soil should be the same. Fill all the empty space in the pit with the prepared mix and compact it in a little.

Water the magnolia with 1 gallon of water. After a few hours, give another gallon.

It does not need to be fertilized in the first year because in most cases it is already fertilized in the nursery. Also, you should not expect vigorous growth in the first year since magnolia requires at least one season to get established in a new location. Fertilizing at this time will not do you any good.

Read more: How To Plant A Magnolia Tree?

Light requirements

In general, magnolias are sun-loving plants so you need to provide them with direct sun. Plant the magnolia in a location where it will receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Most magnolias can tolerate direct sun all day long. Although some species still need partial shade. Also in zones 9-10, shade in the afternoon will still be an advantage for all species.

As for full shade, it is contraindicated for magnolias because they are not shade-loving trees. If it does not receive direct sun at all, you should not expect it to flower.

In addition, in full shade, the crown of magnolia will have far fewer branches and will be loose. The tree will also be more susceptible to fungal diseases.

Read more: How Much Sun Does A Magnolia Tree Need?

Soil

Magnolia is able to tolerate different types of soils. This even applies to clay soil because it is a moisture-loving tree. So in most cases you do not need to do anything with your soil.

But if you have too wet or stony soil in your yard, it can be improved. If you improve even the soil that is suitable for growing magnolia, you will increase its flowering and vigor.

To do this, add about a bag of soil conditioner or peat to the planting hole and mix well with the native soil. This will make the soil lighter and more draining.

In addition, after adding organic matter to the soil, it will become more nutritious. It is very important for Magnolia to have enough organic matter for abundant blooms.

As far as pH is concerned, Magnolia prefers slightly acidic soil. But it can also tolerate slightly alkaline soil. Avoid planting it in soils with too high a pH, as this can lead to chlorosis.

Read more: What Kind Of Soil Does A Magnolia Tree Need?

Magnolia Tree Care

Magnolia Butterflies

Watering

Because of its large leaves and fast growth rate, the magnolia is a water-loving plant. Although fully established, it should only be watered in severe drought.

Water the magnolia as soon as the soil is 1 to 2 inches dry. This watering schedule should be followed for the first 2 years after planting.

The amount of water should be at least 2 gallons. If the tree is taller than 5 feet, 3 gallons or more will be needed.

It is best to use drip irrigation and saturate the soil slowly. This will result in the entire root system getting water.

Although it is rare to over-water a magnolia, it should still be avoided. Do not water if the soil is already wet, and do not use large amounts of water. Otherwise, root rot may occur.

Once the tree is fully rooted (1-2 years), you can stop watering completely. Sometimes it may be necessary to water if the drought is too long.

Avoid watering magnolia trees in late fall and winter. This is when the tree needs to rest and excess water around the roots can cause damage.

Read more: How Much Water Does A Magnolia Tree Need?

Pruning

Magnolia almost does not need pruning because it has a fairly regular shape. But if you decide to prune, early spring is the best time to do so.

By pruning in the spring before the leaves begin to emerge, you can be sure that the wounds will heal and the tree will fully recover by the end of the season.

The first thing to trim is dead or damaged branches after the winter. Cut close to the attachment point but do not damage the trunk or the main branch so that the wound is as small as possible.

It is also often necessary to remove the lower branches that extend into the crown and intertwine with the upper branches. Removing them will also make the trunk cleaner.

Always use sterile and sharp tools of good quality. It is good practice to treat large wounds with fungicide.

Read more: How Do I Prune A Magnolia Tree?

Diseases

In general, magnolia is quite a disease-resistant tree, but still, sometimes problems can arise. In most cases, this applies to fungal diseases, namely leaf spot.

In spring the young leaves can get fungal spores and by summer they will turn into brown spots. If there are many spots, the leaves will turn yellow and fall off.

This often happens if the air around the tree is too humid. Also one of the possible causes of the disease is poor air exchange around the crown.

To avoid this, do not plant magnolia trees too close to other trees or buildings. The distance between the magnolia and another object should not be less than its width at maturity.

If spots appear on the leaves, spray them with an aqueous solution of a multi-purpose fungicide. Repeat the spraying after 2 weeks with copper fungicide.

Read more: Magnolia Tree Diseases With Images

Magnolia Tree Care

Magnolia crassipes

Pests

Among magnolia pests, scale is the most common. They are white or gray insects of miniature size.

These pests parasitize on the leaves and young branches of magnolia trees. Their food is magnolia sap. As a result of their activities, sticky secretions may appear on the lower leaves, which will eventually turn black.

You probably won’t even notice a small number of these parasites. But if their population grows significantly, the tree can take considerable damage.

To get rid of them, spray the magnolia tree with horticultural oil. You can also use insecticidal soap or other biological insecticides.

In the most severe cases, a systemic insecticide should be used several times. If the magnolia has suffered greatly from these pests, water it once with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Read more: What Bugs Eat Magnolia Trees?

Fertilizer

Magnolia needs a lot of nutrients to bloom abundantly. It also needs a little more nitrogen than other trees because of its large leaves.

The best fertilizer is one that holds a little more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium. Prefer slow-release pellets. Make sure the product contains at least some iron and magnesium.

Fertilize in the spring when the first leaves appear. If the pellets have a release time of 6-9 months, one spring application per year is enough. If the fertilizer is less than 3-4 months of release time, re-apply it, but no later than mid-summer.

Avoid fertilizing in the fall and winter as this will prevent the magnolia from going into dormancy. As a result, the tree will suffer in the winter.

Also, avoid fertilizing too often or exceeding the amounts stated on the box. Otherwise, you might damage the root system.

Read more: How Do You Fertilize Magnolia Trees?

Propagation

The easiest way to propagate magnolia is by cuttings. You need to take cuttings in early spring from last year’s branches. Then dip the lower part of the cuttings into the rooting gel.

Fill the seedling substrate into a tray with drainage holes. Stick each cutting separately into the soil. Water them and place the tray in a shaded greenhouse.

By the end of the season, the cuttings will form full-grown plants. Only transplant them separately the following spring.

Air laying propagation also gives good results. But this is a more complicated method.

The best result is achieved by grafting. You can quickly get a large plant with this method. But this method is quite time-consuming and difficult.

Read more: How Do You Propagate A Magnolia Tree?

Magnolia Tree Care

Magnolia Bjuv

Mulching

Mulching magnolia is just as important as other aspects of growing it. It will help keep the soil moist for longer, especially in the summer.

Also, the root system will not overheat in extreme heat. Not to mention that the mulch prevents weeds and is a source of nutrients.

The best mulch for magnolia is compost or pine bark chips. Prefer a medium fraction so that the density of the mulch layer is better.

The best time to mulch is early in the growing season.

The thickness of the mulch should be 2-4 inches. The wider the circle you mulch around the magnolia the better.

Avoid mulching the trunk of the tree. There should be at least a 2-inch gap between the mulch and the trunk. Otherwise, trunk rot can occur.

Read more: Should You Put Mulch Around A Magnolia Tree?

Transplanting

It is better to transplant magnolia in early spring or in late winter. It is important that the tree is in hibernation or has already come out of it but the buds have not yet begun to push.

It is possible to transplant magnolia trees up to 7 feet tall on your own. For larger specimens, you should contact a landscaping company that provides large tree transplanting services.

Step back at least 3 feet from the trunk and start digging. The larger the tree, the more you need to step back from the trunk to damage as few roots as possible.

The same is true for the depth to which you must dig. The minimum depth should be 2 to 3 feet.

Move the dug magnolia to a new location. It is important that the root ball remains intact. Do it quickly and don’t let the root ball dry out.

The new planting hole should be twice as big as the roots. Place the magnolia in the hole at level with the surrounding soil. Backfill the space with soil and water with at least 2 gallons of water.

Rooting in the new location will take several months or an entire season. During this time, keep an eye on the moisture content of the soil around the roots. Do not let the soil dry out more than an inch.

Read more: Can Magnolia Trees Be Transplanted?