A Step-By-Step Tutorial for Growing a Magnificent Magnolia Tree

May 8, 2023

Magnolia trees or shrubs can serve as beautiful ornamental pieces in your garden, provided they are cared for. The colours of the flowers range from pure white to blush pink and even magenta. They have a lovely fragrance you can enjoy every season.

Essential Tips for Growing Magnolia Trees

  • Magnolias thrive in well-drained, fertile, and slightly acidic soil underneath direct sunlight.
  • Choose a place that will not develop frost pockets that can otherwise damage the roots irreparably.
  • If you live in an area with brutal winters, choose a variety that flowers later when temperatures rise a bit.
  • If you have limited garden space, choose a smaller species
  • Magnolia trees thrive when they are planted in early spring

How to Grow a Magnolia Tree

Follow these steps to grow your own magnolia tree in your garden:

Step 1 – Dig a Hole for Your New Tree

Dig a planting hole in your garden at least 20 inches wide and as deep as the root ball of the magnolia plant. Add some organic soil matter, such as compost, to the hole.

Step 2 – Water the Magnolia Plant

Before placing it in the hole, water the magnolia plant or bush with rhododendron feed to give it a good start.

Step 3 – Place the Plant in the Hole

Carefully remove the magnolia plant from the container and cut four vertical slits in the root ball. These should be at most an inch deep. The slits will give more room to the roots. Place the plant in the hole upright and add or remove soil to adjust the level.

The top of the root ball should be two inches below the soil. The burlap under the root ball will root away on its own, so there is no need to remove it.

Step 4 - Place Supports

To prevent the wind from disturbing the roots, plant supports around the fledgling tree. Rather than using a tall tree stake, choose two smaller ones that are just three feet long. Place them on either side of the root ball and fix them, so the ball doesn't move. The tree will grow vertically. You can use the same technique for a large shrub but use wire rather than stakes to support it.

Step 5 - Add More Soil

Make a mixture of 50:50 organic matter and soil and use it to fill the hole. Press down on the mixture firmly with your hands or the toe of your boot.

Step 6 – Add Water

Water the plant well and add another dose of liquid rhododendron feed before adding more mulch, such as pine bark. The mulch should be weed-free.

Caring for a Magnolia Tree

If planted in the best soil and location, magnolias grow fast and healthy. While they are somewhat resistant to pests, they heal slowly after taking damage. Prune them too heavily or break branches, and your tree will look sparse for a couple of months.

Reduce chances of damage by ensuring you don't underplant the tree. If your gardener digs near the tree and accidentally nicks the roots, the damage can be irreversible. So keep pruning to a minimum or on an as-needed basis. With just a little maintenance and pruning, magnolia trees can transform your garden for the better.

Caring for a Magnolia Tree

Magnolia trees can attract pests and diseases that can destroy them if you don't take action fast. These include the following:

  • Watch the leaves for rot or white and black spots paying particular attention to the knobs. These are bacteria or fungi that can spread quickly. Remove the infected leaves and rake up any that have fallen off.
  • Cankers are localized, sunken, and discoloured spots that can appear on the branches and trunks of your magnolia tree. You can prevent these by ensuring the tree is watered and fertilized correctly.
  • Magnolia scale is a pest that can only be removed with a toxic pesticide. Keep these pesky insects at bay by applying summer oil to the tree in October, August, and March.
  • Irrigate during dry spells to ensure your magnolia tree grows steadily. Do this regularly during the first year or two of planting. Prevent the tree from drying out after it produces flowers by treating it with a bark mixture or mulch.

Some other tips you can use to ensure your tree thrives include the following:

  • Most types of magnolia trees are heat-tolerant and can withstand drought to an extent. But younger trees should be watered regularly for two years until their roots are deep enough to survive without intervention.
  • You don't need to fertilize a healthy and blooming tree.
  • Keep foot traffic away from the root zone of a young tree. Once they are damaged, you'll have to replant them.
  • Prune these trees sparingly. Only remove the tops of damaged branches or give the foliage shape to make the tree look presentable. Prune it right after the blooming season, i.e., in late spring or early summer.


Magnolia trees can grow to magnificent heights if planted and tended carefully. Use our tips to grow one in your garden and make your property stand out in the neighbourhood. When the tree blooms, your property's curb appeal will also improve.

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