Expert Advice on Magnolia Tree Care

The magnolia tree is a native of the southeastern United States and can grow up to 80 feet tall. A popular feature in southern landscapes, the magnolia tree is famous for its large thick leaves and heavy white blossoms.

An evergreen in most climate zones, the magnolia tree can sometimes shed leaves throughout the year when it is under stress. Newer magnolia cultivars have increased the cold hardiness of the species and extended its growing range farther north and west.

Growing a Magnolia Tree

Variety: Magnolia grandiflora
Zones: 6 to 10
Soil Type: Moist, well-drained soil
Soil pH: 6.1 to 7.5
Sunlight: Full sun to moderate shade
Watering: Average watering

Magnolia Tree Cultivars

  • Bracken's Brown Beauty: This popular modern variety reaches 30 feet when mature. It naturally forms a dense, pyramidal shape and sports glossy, dark green leaves. Six-inch white blooms appear in the late spring.
  • Edith Bogue: Among the most cold hardy magnolia trees, Edith Bogue can grow to 30 feet tall by 15 feet in width. This variety has narrow green leaves that form a dense canopy as the tree matures.
  • Little Gem: One of the smallest magnolias, Little Gem almost qualifies as a shrub. Reaching 20 feet tall in 20 years, this variety sports dark-green leaves with rich, bronze-brown backs.
  • Majestic Beauty: A large variety, reaching 50 feet at maturity. Well known for its small, dark-green leaves and profuse flowering.

Caring For Your Magnolia Tree
Magnolias are typically used as specimen plants sionce a single tree will take up a large portion of the landscape. Given the continuous shedding of leaves and seed pods, it's probably a good idea to consider planting a magnolia tree in an ornamental bed instead of having it surrounded by turf. Container-grown specimens can be planted any time of the year, but transplanted ball and burlap plants should be planted in the fall. Magnolias are known to suffer from transplant shock; heavy leaf shedding during the first growing season is not uncommon.

Growth can be enhanced with frequent, light feedings of an 8-8-8 fertilizer during the spring and summer of the first three growing seasons. After the first three years, reduce fertilizer applications to once or twice a year. Pruning a magnolia tree should be avoided. These slow-growing trees take a long time to heal, which leaves them vulnerable to disease and insect attacks. Keep the pruning shears handy only to remove dead limbs, not to try and control the tree's growth.

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