How to Care for a Chinese Magnolia Tree
Magnolia x soulangiana is a deciduous magnolia tree species known by many names, including saucer magnolia, tulip tree and Chinese magnolia. With their tulip-shaped blossoms in shades of pink, white or purple, Chinese magnolia trees can make a lovely, fragrant addition to home landscapes in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 9. Growing only to 25 feet tall, Chinese magnolias are a favorite for gardeners with limited space. Simple, low-maintenance ornamentals, Chinese magnolia trees need very little special care to thrive.
Plant your Chinese magnolia tree in a location that receives between six and eight hours of sunlight every day and has rich and well-draining soil.
Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch in a 3-foot diameter around your Chinese magnolia tree. Keep the mulch at least 3 inches from the trunk of your Chinese magnolia. Use a lightweight, natural mulch like pine straw, bark pieces or wood chips to help your tree conserve moisture.
Water your Chinese magnolia tree one or two times a week to keep its soil moist. Use a drip, soaker or bubbler hose when watering your Chinese magnolia to ensure that the moisture is able to reach the tree's roots. Water your Chinese magnolia more frequently during the dry summer months, if necessary.
Fertilize your Chinese magnolia tree in the early spring with an application of a fertilizer that has been formulated for acid-loving plants. Apply the fertilizer to the soil around your Chinese magnolia tree according to package directions.
Prune your Chinese magnolia tree at the end of its growing season, when the flowers begin to die. Use sharpened and sterilized pruning shears to remove any discolored, diseased or damaged foliage or branches. To increase airflow to your tree's canopy, remove any branches that intersect or rub together.
Chinese magnolia trees can also be pruned into an attractive privacy hedge.
Though the Chinese magnolia is generally free of pests and diseases, it can sometimes be infested by pests like scale and sassafras weevil, or infected by diseases like canker or verticillium wilt. Monitor your tree for potential problems and treat with a horticultural oil spray to combat pests or prune out diseased branches.
Megan Mattingly-Arthur has been writing professionally since 1998. She has contributed to various publications, including "Teen Voices" and "Positive Teens" magazines, as well as a book, "The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published." Mattingly-Arthur is studying travel and tourism through Penn Foster Career School.