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Care Guide: How to care for a Magnolia

How to prepare for planting a magnolia

Magnolia plants can be grown in the ground or containers. They require a sheltered spot with plenty of sunlight and acidic to neutral, well drained soil.

After delivery make sure you water your plant until the soil is moist then check over the plant to make sure it is in best condition.

How to plant a magnolia

After deciding where to site the Magnolia, dig a large hole, placing the topsoil in two piles and any subsoil in a separate pile. Be careful to keep the sides straight so that the hole isn’t narrower at the bottom than the top. Lightly fork the edges and bottom of the hole to let the roots grow out more easily and provide air holes. Place the magnolia, out of its nursery pot, into the hole.

Next mix some good quality compost with some of the topsoil you have removed from the hole. We suggest a mix of 25-50% compost to topsoil, this will help the Magnolia establish. Shovel some of this soil mix around the roots. Once the roots are covered, gently firm the soil to make sure it is tucked in around the roots. Shovel the rest of the top soil and firm again, and then add the subsoil at the top of the hole. Firm the soil again and now water the Magnolia. We suggest giving 1-2 buckets per plant straight after planting even if the soil is damp. Plant failures mainly occur due to lack of water and competition from weeds. It is important to keep the Magnolia well-watered so check the soil is damp as often as possible.

Care for an established magnolia

  • Only prune a few branches at a time
  • Don’t allow the plant to dry out over summer
  • Mulch in spring with manure or leaf mould

The flowers on magnolia trees are particularly vulnerable to late-winter frosts because they bloom so early in the year. However, magnolia trees are completely hardy. Planting the tree in a sunny, sheltered area is the best way to prevent this. Using horticultural sacking or even some bin liners can also protect younger plants.

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Updated on April 12, 2023

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