How to Prune a Magnolia Tree


The magnolia tree, or Magnolia x soulangiana, also known as the saucer magnolia, is one of the most primitive flowering plants. It has multi-stems and can grow to a height of 25 feet and a width/spread from 20 to 30 feet (it requires a large planting area in your landscape design). Some magnolias resemble small shrubs and are smaller in size. The magnolia tree will be filled with beautiful whitish-pink blossoms in early spring. It is hardy from zones 5 through 9A. Reasons to prune the magnolia tree are: to remove any broken or diseased branches, and to ensure the safety of walkways.

Step 1

Remove dead or damaged branches as soon as possible. Be sure to make a clean cut (no ragged edges or torn bark) to ensure proper healing of the tree. This can be done at anytime during the year.

Step 2

Inspect your magnolia tree to determine whether you need to prune any branches to ensure safety near a walkway, structure or roof. Branches that rub on a roof can eventually lead to roof damage and a leaky roof.

Step 3

Cut away the undesired branches with the garden tool of your choice. You can make your cut where the branch meets the main stem, or anywhere along the branch, depending upon how much of the branch needs removed. This pruning procedure should be done in the late spring or early summer after the tree has blossomed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never attempt to prune branches that are close to electrical wires, as this can be dangerous. This should be left to the electric company.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw


  • Forest Service: Department of Agriculture
  • The United States National Arboretum
  • The Essence of Magnolias
Keywords: prune magnolia tree, cut away branches, clean dead, diseased branches

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.