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How to Protect a Magnolia Tree From Freezing Temperatures

magnolia tree in rittenhouse park image by Jorge Moro from

The magnolia tree holds a sentimental place in the heart of America as a tree that is strongly associated with the Old South. Most magnolia tree varieties are tender and susceptible to freezing weather or frost damage. Several new cold-hardy cultivars have been developed that can flourish without protection even in the northern-most regions of the United States. The magnolica grandiflora is easily susceptible to even a minor frost and its leaves will sustain damage.

Plant the magnolia tree in a southern, full-sun location. Place the plant beside a house, building or solid fence to afford it winter protection and keep chilling winds from taking their toll on the tree's delicate foliage.

Apply 4 inches of mulch around the base of the tree and outward to the tree's drip line.

Cover the magnolia tree with blankets the night before a heavy frost is predicted. Remove the blankets the next morning after the sun rises and the surrounding environment warms.

Irrigate the magnolia tree and the surrounding grounds with water, using a garden sprinkler, during a heavy frost to insulate from freezing. Begin irrigating the tree when the temperature dips to 34 degrees F. Continue watering the tree through the night to protect it from the frost. Keep the tree's foliage continuously moist through the night. Discontinue watering when the sun rises and the outside temperature begins to warm up past 34 degrees F.

Water A Magnolia Tree

Plant a magnolia tree in loose, light soil in the spring or fall when rains will encourage growth. While magnolias do well in areas where moisture applications range in extremes from too dry to too wet, any plant's roots can drown if it's constantly kept in water. Place a hose at the base of the tree and allow the water to pour out slowly for about 20 minutes. When temperatures move between 70 to 80 degrees, water once weekly. This allows more time between water applications. Pull any weeds or grass that appear around the base as well, as these compete with the tree for water and other nutrients.


Mulch will help protect the tree's shallow root system during times of heavy frost or freezing. A layer of water will help to keep the tree slightly above 32 degrees F during freezing temperatures.

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