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What Kind Of Soil Does A Magnolia Tree Need?

The health of a tree depends directly on the environment in which it grows. Very often it is necessary to improve some conditions to get a better result.

Magnolia needs a well-drained and moderately acidic kind of soil. To get this type of soil, mix the native soil with 1-2 buckets of compost or soil conditioner and plant the magnolia with this soil mix.

Next, I will tell you in more detail about the best soil for magnolia and its relationship to the most common soil types. I also highly recommend that you read the Magnolia Maintenance Handbook. You will find a great deal of helpful advice there.

What Kind Of Soil Does A Magnolia Tree Need

Soil requirements

Magnolia is a tree capable of adapting to different soils. If you have ordinary garden soil, in most cases the magnolia will grow well.

But if you want the tree to take root faster and produce flowers as early as possible, you need to improve the soil. Use organic matter for this purpose.

Before planting, dig a hole 2-3 times the size of the roots. Then mix the soil from the hole thoroughly with the same amount of soil conditioner, compost, or other organic material. The main thing is to make sure the soil conditioner is of good quality.

One of the best soil improvers for magnolia is peat because, in addition to other qualities, it will acidify the native soil a bit. It is well known that magnolias like slightly acidic soil.

By planting magnolia in soil rich in organic matter, you can be sure that it will take root for 1-2 years. Then the roots will begin to penetrate into the surrounding, not improved soil, but this will not be a problem.

Clay soil

If your yard is not pure clay but, for example, loam, then the magnolia will grow normally. Moreover, soil that partly consists of clay is able to hold some water, which will be an advantage for magnolia because it likes a slightly moist substrate.

On the other hand, if you have pure clay then there may be some difficulties.

For example, if your yard is in a low area where water accumulates, the magnolia might not be comfortable. In some cases, root rot can even occur.

To avoid this, the first thing to do is to improve the soil in the planting hole. How to do this I have described in detail above.

Another thing to do is to arrange drainage. To do this, the planting hole must be at least 3 feet deep. Put half a bucket of stones in the bottom and only then plant the magnolia.

Also, avoid planting close to areas where water accumulates or moves. For example, do not plant a magnolia near where water runs off the roof or near a pond.

Sandy soil

All types of sandy soil magnolia can tolerate well. In such soil, you can be sure that magnolia will not suffer from root rot.

You may have to water a little more often and apply more fertilizer, but overall the tree will be fine.

If you live in an area that is predominantly sandy, you need to take care of change this type of medium. Find a local supplier who can provide you with good garden soil.

Use this soil to improve the quality of the sand. Also, add a few bags of organic matter to this mix.

Be sure to mulch your magnolia plant to avoid rapid water loss. Use pine bark or another type of organic mulch. The mulch layer should be at least 2 inches thick.

For the first few years, constantly monitor how wet the soil is and once it is 1-2 inches dry, water the tree.

Magnolia needs more fertilizer in sandy soil. Fertilize for the first time in early spring with a slow-release fertilizer. Once the tree is finished blooming, use a water-soluble fertilizer.

Soil pH

мIn most cases, the ground is neutral. This means that it is well suited for growing magnolia.

In addition, magnolia can grow in both slightly acidic and slightly alkaline soil. So you do not have to worry about this.

But if you have other trees in your yard and they often have yellowing leaves, you might want to check the pH of the soil.

To do this, buy a soil acidity test kit at your local home improvement center. Use it as indicated on the label.

If the pH of the soil is lower than 5.5, the magnolia may be deficient in phosphorus. As a result, it will bloom very poorly. To fix this, add some garden lime to the soil.

If the pH of the soil is greater than 7.0, the magnolia may not be getting enough nitrogen. In this case, chlorosis will develop. The leaves will turn yellow but the veins will remain green. Use a soil acidifier to lower the pH a bit.


Saturday 9th of March 2024

I have a saucer magnolia and I live in Milwaukee, WI. This magnolia was transplanted here 5 years ago and has just not grown since. It flowers but doesn't seem to grow. Soil analysis shows ph 7.4, phosphorus 5.2 and potassium 8.5 Soil analysis recommends .15 lbs/ 100ft of Nitrogen. It gets about 6 to 7 hours of full sun a day. The soil is dry rocky clay on sloping property. Dries out fairly fast. Can you help me understand what this tree may need? Thank you.

Igor Viznyy

Sunday 10th of March 2024

Hey Becky! It looks like your soil is on the alkaline side, but magnolias thrive in slightly acidic soil. Try using soil acidifiers to maintain a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.

Also, if your soil dries out quickly, that could be slowing down your magnolia's growth, since they enjoy moist soil. To help, spread some organic mulch around the root area and water it once the top 2 inches of soil feel dry.

Everything else seems to be in good shape. Best of luck with your gardening!


Monday 30th of October 2023

I have Teddy Bear Magnolia, 3 year old trees, very healthy looking, good drainage, pH 6.5. Every year they get covered with flowers but the flowers don't open. Can you help?

Igor Viznyy

Wednesday 1st of November 2023

Hi, Rose. The first thing that could be the reason is that the trees are still too young to produce blossoms. In this case you just have to wait.

The second is bud blast. Plants can lose flowers before they even open. This can be caused by improper watering, disease or pests, weather, over-fertilization and several other factors.