How to Care for Magnolia Plants

Overview

Magnolias are beautiful flowering plants that come in either shrub or tree form, depending on the species and cultivated variety. About 80 different species of magnolias exist, all of which are native to Southeast Asia and the eastern United States. Magnolias are spring-bloomers, producing goblet-shaped, showy flowers with thick, waxy petals.

Step 1

Insert a wooden stake into the ground beside your young magnolia plant and tie the trunk to the stake with twine. Staking the magnolia plant will help it to become established and protect it from breaking in high winds.

Step 2

Spread a layer of organic mulch, 2 inches thick, on the ground over the root area of your magnolia plant to retain soil moisture. Keep the mulch about 2 inches away from the trunk to prevent collar rot. Add more organic mulch every spring to keep the layer at about 2 inches thick.

Step 3

Water your magnolia plant regularly during the first growing season, about two or three times per week, soaking the soil down to and around the root area. After the first growing season, water your magnolia once or twice each week in the absence of rainfall.

Step 4

Feed your magnolia plant a slow-release, all-purpose tree fertilizer once each year in the spring. Follow the dosage instructions on the fertilizer package.

Step 5

Prune your magnolia tree after the tree is finished flowering to remove any dead, diseased or damaged growth. You don't need to prune your magnolia regularly unless you want to reduce its size. Keep in mind, however, that pruning to shape or size your magnolia will likely remove wood with buds, reducing the blooms for the next season.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid damaging your magnolia plant's roots when you're planting near the magnolia or cultivating the soil close to the magnolia's root zone. Magnolias are especially sensitive to any root disturbances, which can lead to stunted growth or even the death of the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden stake
  • Twine
  • Organic mulch
  • Garden hose
  • Slow-release tree fertilizer
  • Pruning tools

References

  • BestGardening.com: Plant Notebook -- Spring Flowering Magnolias
  • Heronswood: Magnolia Culture

Who Can Help

  • Magnolia Society International
  • U.S. National Arboretum: Magnolia Questions and Answers
Keywords: magnolia care, growing magnolias, planting magnolia tree, caring for magnolia plants

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.