How to Care for a Southern Magnolia Tree


The statuesque southern magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) grows 90 feet in height with a 40 foot spread. The evergreen produces 8-inch-long leaves that appear glossy. Extremely fragrant 12 inch waxy white blossoms adorn the tree in late spring. Fuzzy cones with bright red seeds are produced in the fall and adored by songbirds. It is commonly grown as a garden specimen due to its low maintenance and street appeal. The tree also offers ideal shade from the heat of summer.

Step 1

Plant in full sunlight or partial shade for best flower production each year. The tree enjoys well-drained soil that is high in organic content. When planting add peat moss, leaf debris, sawdust or aged manure to the soil.

Step 2

Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the base of the magnolia tree. Mulch helps to shade the trees root system during the intensely hot summer months. Use peat moss, bark chips or recycled plastic mulch.

Step 3

Water the newly planted southern magnolia weekly until established. The tree enjoys moist soil conditions, but will not tolerate overly wet roots. Winter time drought can easily cause the magnolia seedling tree to die. Once established, the tree is exceptionally drought tolerant.

Step 4

Fertlize southern magnolia trees three times per year. Use an acidic fertilizer for magnolia trees with ample magnesium, iron and sulfur. Apply according to the directions on the label.

Step 5

Prune the magnolia tree only when necessary. Remove dead or diseased wood and discard. Trim the tree up if necessary. The magnolia grows best in its natural state with only minimal pruning.

Step 6

Apply a general purpose fungicide if the magnolia tree shows signs of powdery mildew on its leaves. The fungal infection appears as a think white or grey coating on the leaves and stems of the tree. Follow the directions on the fungicides label for application.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning lopers
  • Organic material such as aged manure, peat moss, leaf debris or saw dust.
  • Mulch such as peat moss, bark chips or recycled plastic mulch
  • Acidic fertilizer for magnolias with magnesium, iron and sulfur
  • General purpose fungicide


  • Floridata: Magnolia grandiflora
  • U.S. Forest Service: Southern Magnolia
  • Texas A & M University: Magnolia grandiflora

Who Can Help

  • University of Connecticut: Magnolia grandiflora
Keywords: magnolia tree care, magnolia maintenance, growing southern magnolias

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.