How To Plant And Prune The Magnolia?

One of the most beautiful trees in spring


At the end of winter, magnolias are adorned with magnificent white and pink flowers, to offer a spectacle that only nature has the secret. Find out how to plant and prune magnolias in your garden.

Summary :

  • Characteristics of the magnolia
  • Type: flowering tree
  • Height: up to 25m
  • Flower color: pink, white, red, cream
  • Fruit name: magnolia fruit
  • Desired exposure: sunny, semi-shaded
  • Soil type: humus
  • Foliage: deciduous, evergreen
  • Sanitizing: no
  • Varieties : Magnolia acuminata, Magnolia fraseri, Magnolia grandiflora, Magnolia macrophylla, Magnolia salicifolia

Origins and characteristics of the magnolia


Belonging to the magnoliaceae family, the magnolia is a shrub or a flowering tree that comes in about 120 species, including the magnolia stellata and the magnolia grandiflora, the latter being the most common in Western countries.

Today, the magnolia tree can be found all over the world, both in Europe, where it has become acclimatized, and in Asia and the Far East, where it originated. The magnolia tree has been present on earth for 100 million years.

The height of the magnolia tree in its natural state varies between 5 and 25 meters. Its lifespan can exceed a hundred years.

There are currently 2 types of magnolia trees: deciduous magnolia trees that bloom in spring, and evergreen magnolia trees that bloom in late spring or early summer.

Planting the magnolia


Planted in moist soil, ideally in April, the magnolia can reach a height of between 2 and 25 meters depending on the species. It is a hardy flowering tree, which can withstand temperatures down to -25°C. However, you should never plant a magnolia tree during the frost period, as many shrubs do.

Use a mixture of native soil and heather soil with fertilizer when planting.

The magnolia does not refuse sunshine in summer, alternating with semi-shade periods. If you plant it in the North of France, choose a sheltered place.

The magnolia is particularly happy in a soil with a neutral or slightly acid pH. It should preferably be fresh and moist.

Pruning of the magnolia


In terms of maintenance, the magnolia does not require any pruning after the first five years following planting to reduce or balance the branching. This work should be done after flowering or in the fall.

Regarding watering, the shrub needs a lot of water in hot weather. A mulch at the foot of the tree keeps the humidity and avoids the growth of weeds.

It can be propagated by cuttings in summer or by layering in spring.

In case of absence of flowering, don’t hesitate to remove some soil from the roots and replace it with heather soil, like the one used when the magnolia was planted.

Flowering of the magnolia


With its solitary flowers of six to nine tepals, the magnolia is highly prized for its ornamental qualities and its colors ranging from pink to creamy white.

This tree, celebrated by Claude François in song, creates magnolia flowers resembling tulips. These are extremely hardy and encourage insect pollination.

Be aware that the first bloom of the magnolia can take an average of twenty years.

Magnolia diseases and pests


Generally speaking, the magnolia is a robust tree that is fairly resistant to diseases and pests. However, there are 2 risks to take into account:

Slugs: these are fond of young plants, especially in spring. Use beer traps to protect them.
Pestalozzia: this fungus causes a complete defoliation of the plant. To prevent it, make a regular addition of heather soil. Use a fungicide if the fungus appears, before it is too late.


Use of the magnolia


In addition to its ornamental use, the magnolia also has some medicinal applications. Its bark and flower buds are used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine.

Its bark has the power to reduce anxiety, nervousness and sleep disorders. It also promotes swallowing and appetite reduction. Its flower buds treat nasal congestion and sinusitis.

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