Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Prune Southern Magnolia

Southern magnolia is found in many parts of the warmer and subtropical climates in North America, growing predominantly in Florida and the Carolinas. It also goes by the names evergreen magnolia and bull bay. The species can grow up to 80 feet high and 40 feet wide. It thrives in rich soil and along moist river swamps. The southern magnolia is easily recognized because of its large flowers that bloom throughout the summer. They are creamy white in color, with bright purple centers and a pleasing aroma. Pruning southern magnolia

  • Southern magnolia is found in many parts of the warmer and subtropical climates in North America, growing predominantly in Florida and the Carolinas.
  • The southern magnolia is easily recognized because of its large flowers that bloom throughout the summer.

Prune southern magnolia in the off-season, when it is not blooming. Pruning in the winter will allow you to better see the structure of the tree and prevent pruning damage.

Use pruning shears on the thinnest of branches and graduate up to a pruning saw or chain saw for thick limbs. Achieve a clean cut to prevent bark damage.

Make all pruning cuts at the collar, which is the thick section next to the joint shared with another branch or limb. The tissue will heal in this area.

Climb a ladder and look through the tree's canopy for branches that are dead, broken or damaged. Remove them immediately.

  • Prune southern magnolia in the off-season, when it is not blooming.
  • Use pruning shears on the thinnest of branches and graduate up to a pruning saw or chain saw for thick limbs.

Prune tree branches that have formed weak, tight crotches with the tree trunk or other branches. Ideally, a 60 degree angle provides the best strength in limbs.

Remove the bottom part of the southern magnolia's canopy because it tends to droop downward, blocking vehicles or pedestrians beneath. Cut off the limbs that are bent downward at the joint they share with other limbs.

Prune Dead Limbs On A Southern Magnolia

Disinfect all pruning tools in a 10-percent diluted bleach solution, mixing one part chlorine bleach with nine parts water. This project requires bypass pruners, lopping shears, a pruning saw and a pole pruner. Dead wood doesn't require healing, but if only part of a limb is dead and you must cut into living wood to maintain a nice shape, then you should prune in summer so the tree recovers quickly. Cut branches up to 1/2 inch in diameter with bypass pruners back to the nearest healthy branch union, making a cut about 1/4-inch above the branch union to avoid leaving a long stub. Cut through the branch as close to the branch collar as possible, without cutting into the branch collar.

  • Prune tree branches that have formed weak, tight crotches with the tree trunk or other branches.
  • Cut branches up to 1/2 inch in diameter with bypass pruners back to the nearest healthy branch union, making a cut about 1/4-inch above the branch union to avoid leaving a long stub.

Warning

Don't leave stumps when pruning southern magnolia.

Don't attempt to prune southern magnolia that has grown close to power lines. Call the utility company.

Garden Guides
×