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Past Articles Library | Trees | A Complete Guide to Growing Magnolia Trees

Magnolia trees are a wonderful addition to any landscape design.  They come in both evergreen and deciduous varieties but regardless of the type you choose, it is best to treat this plant as a specimen verses trying to incorporate it into a traditional landscape design.

Choosing a location can be a challenge.  The roots of the magnolia are fleshy and easily damaged by foot traffic but are strong enough to lift and crack payment.  Their mature size can also create a challenge since most varieties can grow up to 40 feet in width.  Regardless of the variety, these trees also drop their leaves year round, which can also be a challenge.

Taking all this into consideration, one must also find a location that has soil that is fairly rich, well-drained and neutral to slightly acidic in nature.  To aid the soil composition, always backfill the hole with a good quality compost prior to watering in.

Due to the size that magnolias can reach, it is a good idea to stake them once they are planted.  This will prevent the young trees from being blown over. To prevent from damaging the roots of the young tree, place stakes in the hole prior to planting the tree.

While magnolias seldom suffer from pest problems, they do have problems with chlorosis, which is the yellowing of the leaves and the greening of the veins.  This is caused by an alkaline soil.  To treat this problem, add a slow-release product that contains iron chelates but apply on the side of caution.  Magnolias also suffer from overfertilizing, which causes the edges of the leaves to turn brown.  When in doubt, the best approach is to apply a compost tea to the tree several times during the growing season.

Once the tree has been planted, mulch the area.  This will keep the soil cool and will conserve soil moisture.  After the tree begins to fill out, the canopy itself will keep the soil cool and control grass.  In doing so, there will be no need to continue to add mulch.

Pruning is something that a magnolia tree will need sometime in its life cycle.  Deciduous trees should be pruned after they are done blooming while evergreen trees should be pruned prior to their spring growth.  Regardless of the type, cut the branch even with the base of the tree.  Deciduous trees heal slowly and in doing so you should always make sure of the need for the cut before removing a branch.

When pruning this tree, do not waste the greenery of an evergreen magnolia.  This greenery is prized in floral arrangements and is simple to use right off the plant.  Also the dried blooms on the evergreen variety can also be used in floral arrangements.

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