Care for flowering Magnolia tree

Magnolias are relatively pest free and easy to grow and care for. Read on for care tips from the Nature Hills Horticulture team.

Select the Right Site for Your Magnolia

Pick the right Magnolia variety that fits the space in your yard. Be sure to check the Plant Highlights on every product page for the hardiness zone to ensure it will grow where you live.

Make sure the soil is well drained and that your new Magnolia will get more than half a day of sun for best flowering. 

Ideal growing conditions? Easy!  A rich, moist, well drained soil with an even moisture supply is suggested, but know they are very adaptable. 

How to Improve Your Soil Conditions

Perhaps you don’t have ideal conditions. Then site your Magnolia in a spot that gets full sun or at least more than half a day of sun. Protection from the hot afternoon sun is best if you are not planting in full sun. 

It is important that the soil you are planting into does drain well. If it does not drain well, consider raising the planting area by adding more soil in a raised berm or raised planting bed to improve drainage. Good drainage is required to make Magnolias work.

Do you have access to mulch?  Many times local tree services who do tree trimming grind up the leaves, branches and trunks of the trees they trim. These arborist chips are fantastic to use as mulch over the top of the roots of your landscape plants, in your shrub and perennial borders, and gardens. Put down a nice 3-4 inch layer. 

Be sure that you keep that mulch away from the trunks of trees, and from the stems of the plants coming from the ground. It does not need to be piled up against the trunks and can actually kill the plants if done so.  Do not make mulch volcanos around your plants! If arborist’s chips are not available in your area, you can use a  shredded hardwood mulch for a nice finishing touch.  Mulch is fantastic for holding moisture, keeping the weeds away, and keeping the soil cooler. 

Keep New Plants "Stress Free"

Magnolias do not like to have the soil baked by hot, drying sun.  So not only mulch, but additional watering may be needed especially during the hot and dry spells of summer and fall to keep your plants stress free.  Plants, like people, are more susceptible to insect and disease issues when under stress. 

It is especially important is to keep your newly planted plants healthy and happy. Pay close attention to the water. Too much water is just as detrimental as too little water. Use the trusty “finger test” to know if your Magnolia needs more water or not. Stick your finger into the soil and feel. If it is moist, then skip watering. As soon as it begins to feel dry to the touch, be sure to water deeply and thoroughly. 

Magnolias are Fast Growing

Most Magnolias will surprise you as to how quickly they grow after they have been established in your yard. You will find it hard to want to prune your Magnolias, because the bigger they get the more flowers are produced. Light pruning can be done if necessary after the flowers fade. Winter pruning can be done. You will be removing the flowers on the branches, so if you do so, know this will be the result. Otherwise wait until the bloom finishes and then do some light pruning if needed.

The overall form of these magnificent plants is quite formal, especially when young. Most grow pyramidal in outline with minimal pruning required. Magnolias are robust growers and can add two feet or even more in a season. 

The Magnolia is an incredible plant, and part of living history. The very first flower on Earth looked a lot like a Magnolia! Be sure to include them in your yard.