How to Grow a Magnolia Bush


Star magnolia (Magnolia Stellata) is a slow-growing plant native to Japan often seen in a home landscape grown as a large bush. This deciduous plant grows from 15- to 20-feet high blooming in late winter to early spring with white fragrant star-shaped flowers. Growing magnolia bushes is relatively simple with a few basic steps.

Step 1

Select a growing site that receives full sun during the morning and partial afternoon shade. Magnolia grows best in zones four through nine.

Step 2

Prepare the soil by tilling in early spring as soon as the ground is workable. Amend the soil with compost to make a loose, well-draining soil.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is twice as large as the root ball of the magnolia bush. Place the bush in the hole, fill halfway with soil then water in well to eliminate air pockets. Fill in the hole rest of the way with soil and tamp down around the base of the plant.

Step 4

Water well after planting then keep watered consistently so the soil stays moist. Water several times a week letting the soil dry down 1-inch before watering again. Use a soaker hose or garden hose with the water trickling out slowly.

Step 5

Apply a balanced fertilizer (e.g. 10-10-10) after planting and water in well. Use a slow-release formula. Fertilize twice a year, once in early spring and again in early fall.

Step 6

Add a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to keep the soil cool and maintain moisture. Use an organic material such as shredded leaves, pine needles or shredded bark.

Step 7

Prune your deciduous bush after it finishes blooming in late fall. Cut out any dead or diseased branches and trim to shape.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid watering overhead using a sprinkler.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • Southern Living: The Complete guide to magnolia trees
  • Floridata: Magnolia stellata
  • Ohio State University: Magnolia stellata
Keywords: growing magnolia bush, magnolia bushes, grow magnolias

About this Author

Residing in Southern Oregon, Amy Madtson has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008 with a focus on health, pregnancy, crafts and gardening. Her work has been published on websites such as eHow and Garden Guides, among others. Madtson has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1993.