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Where Do Magnolia Trees Grow Best?

As a novice gardener, you know that each species of plant thrives in certain environments. Some trees and flowers crave direct sunlight, while others require extremely moist soil. When it comes to the magnolia tree, there are certain conditions where the species grows best.

Magnolia trees grow best in zones 5 to 10. All magnolia trees need moist and slightly acidic soil to thrive. 6 to 8 hours of sunlight works in hotter areas, but direct sunlight is best in cooler states. Magnolias should be planted in the fall in warm states and in early spring in cool states.

Growing a magnolia tree is nothing like planting mums in early spring. So, let’s go over exactly what the magnolia tree is and what these species of trees need to grow best.

Magnolia’s a big family and it comes in a lot of different forms.

Magnolia trees are considered deciduous trees and are usually classified as evergreens. They’re known for being medium to large in size – sometimes close to 100 feet tall – and boasting very large white and fragrant flowers when they bloom in the spring.

Many magnolia trees are native to Asia, but some naturally grow in the Americas. As of now, there are dozens of species of magnolia trees across the globe.

The right substrate is the key to success.

The most important part of growing a healthy magnolia tree is the soil.

Most magnolia trees prefer moist soil. That means the soil surrounding the tree should be somewhat loose so that it can absorb and hold water after a rainfall. At the same time, there shouldn’t be any sitting water that overwhelms the roots.

If your soil is compact, it’s a good idea to add a thick layer of mulch around the base of the magnolia to help to keep the soil moist as often as possible.

The best soil for a magnolia tree needs to be either neutral or slightly acidic, preferably within the 5 to 7 range on the pH scale. Soil that is too alkaline might deny the magnolia the proper nutrients it needs to thrive.

It’s a good idea to get the pH of your soil tested first before planting a magnolia tree. If your soil is too alkaline, there are natural ways to amend your soil and make it more acidic.

The Ideal Type of Lighting.

The type of lighting your magnolia tree needs will depend on the type of environment you live in.

If you live in an area where it’s normally hot and humid during the day, you’ll want to limit how much direct sunlight your magnolia tree is receiving. 6 and 8 hours of direct sunlight is fine in these areas.

When you plant a magnolia tree in a cooler area of the country, you need to be sure that your magnolia tree is getting direct sunlight during the day.

Regardless, magnolia trees either need partial or direct sunlight. Magnolia trees will experience stunted growth if left to grow in shady areas.

The Best Location

There are certain areas of the country where magnolia trees grow better.

To see if you’re in any of these areas, you need to find out where you fall on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Each area of the United States (as well as other nations) is split into zones based on the temperature reached during the freezing winter months.

Some plants can survive freezing while others cannot.

For the most part, magnolia trees do best when planted in zones 5 through 10. Zones 7 through 9 seem to be ideal for most species of magnolias.

Zones 5 and 6 include areas of the midwest and a few regions in the northeastern United States. Zones 7 through 10 are typically found in southern states and on the west coast.

In Reference to Other Plants

To understand the best location to plant a magnolia tree, you also need to consider the other plants that are in the area.

Magnolia trees grow best when they’re not surrounded by other plants or buildings. That’s because their root system tends to stay close to the ground surface and grows outward. This can impact how other plants grow and might even cause damage to your home.

You also have to consider the fact that magnolia trees shed their flowers once a year. That means that any plants that are growing directly beneath your magnolia tree might be at risk for being covered. This can deny your smaller plants of water and sunlight.

Be sure to plant a magnolia tree at a distance from all plants and structures.

The Preferred Time of Year

Most people associate planting trees and flowers with the springtime. Yet, the perfect time to plant a magnolia tree really depends on the area of the country you live in and the temperatures.

If you live in the colder areas of the country like the northeastern United States, magnolia trees are best when planted in the early spring. The soil tends to be less hard and easier to work with at this time of year.

When you live in the southern states or areas of the country that seem to be warm a majority of the time, you can actually plant a magnolia tree in the fall months. The exact timing will depend on possible freezing.

Steps to Caring for Your Magnolia Trees

Planting a magnolia tree is the first step in helping it to grow. At the same time, you need to be sure that you’re properly caring for your magnolia to allow it the chance to grow best.

Here are some tips for caring for your magnolia tree:

  • Keep the soil moist. Your magnolia tree constantly needs moist soil in order to grow. Be sure to line the base of your magnolia tree with a thick layer of mulch and keep the mulch well-watered.
  • Get your soil tested. The best way to ensure the healthy growth of your magnolia tree is by keeping the pH in balance. If you notice that your magnolia’s growth is slowing (less than a foot or two of growth per year), it’s a good idea to get your soil’s pH tested.
  • Water more in the heat. As you might know, direct sunlight and heat will quickly drain the soil of any water and moisture. If you touch the surface of the mulch around your magnolia and it doesn’t feel wet, then you need to water it extra.
  • Keep it where it is. Magnolias are trees that like to stay put once they’re planted. Make sure you’re planting your magnolia tree in a good location the first time around.

A magnolia tree does have unique needs when it comes to where it grows best and how to keep it healthy. So, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your new tree to be sure that it’s in the best conditions possible.


Magnolia trees are a little complicated since they do have ideal conditions to grow in. That means this isn’t the type of tree that you plant and let grow on its own. Here’s what you absolutely need to know about magnolia trees:

  • Be sure to plant it in an area where it has a ton of room to grow roots.
  • Make sure the soil around your magnolia tree is moist, but not overwatered.
  • Only plant your magnolia tree if you live in an area of the states where it will thrive.
  • Do individual research on the specific tree you’re planting.