Japanese magnolia, also called saucer magnolia, is an early flowering tree. The 10- to 15-foot tree produces abundant white blossoms in late winter and early spring that are then replaced with green leaves. Its gray bark is an attractive addition to the yard year-round. It requires specific care to thrive, but it is resistant to many tree diseases and pests. It thrives in all but the coldest areas of the United States.
Plant Japanese magnolia in full sun and in well-draining soil. Magnolias prefer slightly acidic soil and do not tolerate overly wet ground in the root zone.
Prune young trees to shape them, and remove any branches obstructing walkways or patio areas. Do not prune mature trees, as the pruning cuts do not heal well and leave it susceptible to disease.
Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around the tree, but leave a 3- or 4-inch space between the mulch and the trunk. Mulching preserves soil moisture and improves the appearance of the ground under the tree.
Fertilize the magnolia in spring after the blossoms drop and just as the leaves begin budding. Use a balanced fertilizer following label instructions for exact application amounts.
Water a newly planted Japanese magnolia weekly in a single deep watering that thoroughly moistens the soil. Give water to established trees only during dry periods in the summer.