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How to Protect a Magnolia Tree From Freezing Temperatures

By Kimberly Sharpe ; Updated September 21, 2017
The magnolia tree is commonly found in the southern United States.
magnolia tree in rittenhouse park image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com

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.


Things You Will Need

  • Mulch
  • Old blankets
  • Oscillating sprinkler


  • 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.

About the Author


Based in Oregon, Kimberly Sharpe has been a writer since 2006. She writes for numerous online publications. Her writing has a strong focus on home improvement, gardening, parenting, pets and travel. She has traveled extensively to such places as India and Sri Lanka to widen and enhance her writing and knowledge base.