Magnolia Growing Guide
Crop Rotation Group
Fertile, well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost or other organic matter, with a slightly acidic pH.
Full sun to part afternoon shade.
Cold tolerance varies with cultivar, with most saucer magnolias hardy to -15°F (-26°C). However, in colder regions the blooms often are lost to late spring freezes.
Topdress the root zone with a balanced organic fertilizer in spring, and keep plants mulched year-round to protect their shallow roots. Mature trees will grow in open lawn with no additional fertilizer.
Single Plants: 9' 10" (3.00m) each way (minimum)
Rows: 9' 10" (3.00m) with 9' 10" (3.00m) row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
Set out purchased plants from spring through early summer. Water regularly, and cover the root zone with an organic mulch to keep the soil moist at all times. Once established, flowering magnolias are reasonably tolerant of drought. Check plant tags for a plant’s mature width, and double the number for proper spacing.
If planting in containers, set one dwarf plant per 14-inch (35 cm) pot. You can enjoy growing a dwarf variety in a patio container for a couple of years, but eventually it must be transplanted to open ground. Dwarf cultivars grow to about 10 feet (3 m) tall.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
An inter-species hybrid developed in 1826, saucer magnolia has become a beloved landscape tree in climates where it is hardy. Cultivars vary in their mature size, fragrance, and color of the flowers, which come in several shades of pink. Shop for pot-grown plants in spring when they are blooming, then get them planted before the plants leaf out. Star magnolia (M. stellata) is a slightly smaller deciduous tree that bears fragrant white flowers in early spring. It is spectacular with an evergreen backdrop. Avoid planting flowering magnolias near walkways, because the fallen flowers can become a slippery mess underfoot. Prune plants in spring after the flowers fade to remove broken branches. Saucer magnolia normally requires little pruning.
Cut short bud-bearing stems just as the flowers begin to open for use indoors in small vases.
The thick leaves of saucer magnolia repel most insects. Plants that appear sickly following a period of prolonged wet weather may be affected by root rot diseases. Yellowing leaves often means the soil is not acidic enough for the plants to adequately take up iron.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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Pests which Affect Magnolia