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How to Plant Magnolia Trees

By Barbara Biehler ; Updated September 21, 2017

The magnolia is a popular species of tree that is known for its shiny, dark green leaves and large fragrant blooms in the summertime. Approximately eighty different species of magnolia exist—some are deciduous, and others are evergreen—and almost all are easy to grow. Of the evergreen varieties that commonly grown, perhaps the most well-known is the stately Southern magnolia, or Magnolia grandiflora, a tree that can reach a height of 60 to 90 feet at maturity. In the northern areas of the United States magnolias should be planted in the spring, while fall is the best time to plant these trees in the south.

Purchase a magnolia tree. Local nurseries and garden centers sell the magnolia trees that grow best in your area. Make sure that the tree selected will not outgrow its original planting location, because magnolias do not like to be transplanted once they become large.

Dig a hole twice as large as the root ball.

Take the young magnolia tree out of its container and place in the hole. Arrange the tree so that the root ball rests slightly above the adjacent ground. Fill with top soil.

Water the magnolia thoroughly.

Apply three to four inches of organic mulch, but leave the slightly elevated root ball uncovered. Mulch can prevent water from reaching the root ball, so leave it uncovered until the magnolia tree becomes established.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden shovel
  • Top soil
  • Organic mulch


  • Plant magnolias in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
  • Magnolias come in many different varieties and sizes. Make sure and select the tree best suited for the climate and planting location.
  • Water the young magnolia tree regularly to help it become established.
  • Light, frequent applications of tree fertilizer will help the magnolia tree grow. Apply fertilizer four to six weeks after planting, during the first three growing seasons.


  • Magnolias have a rope-like root system. These trees suffer more than other types if moved after they become large.

About the Author


Barbara Biehler is a freelance writer who has written articles for various websites, as well as online specialty courses for MyComputerBuddies.com. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida and over 15 years experience in business development, sales and marketing. An avid gardener, cook and voracious reader, Biehler resides with her family near Nashville, Tennessee.