Magnolia Tree Care

Magnolia tree care is really simple. You'll be delighted to see how easily you can grow evergreen southern M. grandiflora cultivars as well as the spring flowering tulip or saucer trees.

Buy Pink Saucer Magnolia Trees

Cold Climate Planting Tip:

Avoid planting deciduous cultivars in warm microclimates on your property as this may lure the tree into flowering before the danger of frost has passed.

Believed to be the oldest flowering trees on the planet, Magnolias have been cultivated for their beautiful flowers since time immemorial in Asia and since, at least, the early 1600s in North America.

There are deciduous types that burst into profligate bloom before putting on their new leaves in spring and evergreen varieties whose dark, glossy leaves provide a contrasting backdrop to white summer flowers.

Evergreen varieties perform best in the south, while deciduous types do better in cold climates.

Magnolia Pruning Tip:

Don't do it.

These are easy care trees that, when sited appropriately, do not need much attention.  Their natural forms are quite attractive and easily marred by overzealous trimming.

Restrict yourself to removing only broken, dead, or crossing wood in late winter.

Magnolia x soulangeana

Sweet Bay Magnolia

Saucer Magnolia

Magnolia - Ann

The saucer or tulip Magnolias take their botanical name from the 19th century French horticulturist Etienne Soulange-Bodin.  They are hybrids obtained by crossing M. denudata with M. liliflora.  These hardy, deciduous Magnolia trees begin branching very close to the ground and can reach a height of 25 feet when mature.

The stunning spring flowers of the numerous varieties of this plant appear before the leaves sprout and range from white to lavender.  A single, open bloom can measure 10" across!  Cultivars often bear women's names, like 'Ann' and 'Jane' above.

The saucer Magnolia performs best in full sun locations, grows quickly, and begins blooming at an early age.

Because they are hybrids, they cannot be propagated from seed.  Use cuttings instead.

Hardy into zone 5.

Magnolia grandiflora Care

The greenish buds and fragrant flowers of the Southern Magnolia.

If you covet the elegant good looks of M. grandiflora but lack the necessary space, plant the dwarf 'Little Gem'.

The Southern Magnolia is native to the southeastern U.S. and is a fixture in many of the gardens here.  When siting it in the landscape, give this bodacious beauty plenty of space as it can grow to a height and spread of 80'x26' and does not like to be moved once it has established.

Its leathery, oblong leaves are a glossy hunter green on top with a rusty down on their undersides.  The tree will branch to the ground if it is allowed to, and it should be.  When planted in too small a yard, they are often limbed up to allow for walking, mowing, or parking underneath.  This raises the canopy of the tree but ruins its natural shape.

Huge, creamy white flowers scent the garden repeatedly throughout the summer months.  Once the flower show is over, showy seed pods form.  When ripe, the pods split open, revealing the bright red seeds inside.  You may use these to grow new plants, but cuttings will work just as well.

This species does not like lime.  Plant it on neutral to acid soils in zones 7-9.

Buy Trees Below:

Magnolia Royal Star

Yellow Magnolia Butterflies

Sweet Bay Magnolia Tree Care

Sweet Bay Magnolia virginiana Flower

Sweet Bay Magnolia virginiana Seed Pod

The swamp or Sweet Bay Magnolia (M. virginiana) can grow to 60' in the warmer end of its range which is zones 5 (with protection) through 9.  In the colder end of its range, it may be expected to mature at 20' and to drop its leaves each winter.  It remains evergreen where winters are warm.

This tree's lemon-scented, water lily-shaped blossoms begin their display in late spring and make repeat appearances during the growing season.

The leaves of this species bear unusual silvery reverses rather than the typical rust leaf reverses of the grandifloras.  The Sweet Bay's fruit is also particularly ornamental.

The swamp Magnolia can survive zone 5 winters if planted in a protected spot, otherwise, zone 6 is a safer bet.  Heat tolerant to zone 10.

This is the one species that will tolerate boggy soil, but it does not require it.

General Magnolia Tree Care and Growing Tips

The dwarf grandiflora 'Little Gem' standing beside a pair of Japanese yews.

Magnolia trees do not need much food.  Use an acid fertilizer each year in late spring or early summer according to the instructions on the package.

New trees should be installed in early spring or fall.  Most types like rich soils with a pH of 5.0-6.5.  Except for the Sweet Bay, they will not take standing water.

Magnolias do not enjoy dry soil, but most mature trees can endure it for short periods without harm.

The best bloom is achieved when the trees are planted in full sun.  Evergreen varieties will tolerate light shade.

Other Wonderful Landscape Trees:

White Flowering Trees

Spring Flowering Trees

Golden Rain Tree

The Best Landscape Palms

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Magnolia Posters

Magnolia Street in Ocala, FL Giclee Print
Red Bridge Over Pond, Magnolia Plantation
Magnolia denudata Art Print
Southern Beauties Magnolia Still Life


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Your plant guides,

Selina and Tiny