How to Plant a Saucer Magnolia Tree


The saucer magnolia (magnolia soulangiana) is a deciduous tree that blooms in the early spring, before it begins to put out new leaves. The flowers, which may be white, pink or red, can be as big as 6 inches across and, in some varieties, are hauntingly fragrant. Like all magnolias, the saucer magnolia has thick roots that grow close to the surface of the soil. The saucer magnolia grows to a height and width of about 25 feet.

Step 1

Have your soil tested to determine its pH before planting your saucer magnolia. Magnolias prefer soil that is acidic to neutral (0 to 7 on the pH scale), not alkaline. Contact your state department of agriculture to find out how to get your soil tested. In many areas, agriculture departments offer this service free or for a very nominal charge.

Step 2

If the pH of your soil isn't low enough, ask the agent who facilitated your soil test how you should amend it for your magnolia tree.

Step 3

Choose a spot to plant your saucer magnolia where it will be in full sun (eight hours of direct sunlight a day) or partial shade, preferably in a place where the roots won't be disturbed by other plants or by foot traffic.

Step 4

Dig a hole a foot deeper and wider than the root ball of the tree. Be careful when you put the tree into the hole so as not to damage the roots.

Step 5

Holding the trunk of the tree, put soil under the roots until well covered by 4 or 5 inches of soil when you've filled in the hole. Gently finish pushing soil around and on top of the roots.

Step 6

Water the tree well, but don't leave it soaking wet. Saucer magnolias can't survive if they're constantly standing in water-logged soil.

Step 7

Put a layer of bark mulch, straw or hay over the roots to keep them cool.

Things You'll Need

  • Saucer magnolia trees
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch--bark, straw or hay


  • Agronomic Services --- Soil Testing; North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Serivces
  • Magnolia: Quick facts and care essentials; Sunset Magazine
  • Saucer Magnolia; Sunset Plant Finder; Sunset Magazine

Who Can Help

  • Climate Zones; Sunset Magazine
Keywords: saucer magnolias, planting saucer magnolia trees, soil testing

About this Author

Cheyenne Cartwright has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She has served as an editor for several large nonprofit institutions, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including "Professional Bull Rider Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Tulsa.