How to Plant & Grow


Magnolias are impressive shrubs and trees that add excitement to the garden. Their large flowers are their main selling point, but the elegance they add to the garden all year round is truly unmatched. A perfect addition to your gardens, that’s for sure!   

If you’re new to growing indoor Magnolias, then here are a few tips and tricks to keep them looking fabulous all season long.   

What We've Included

Choosing the Correct Magnolia  |  When to Plant  |  Where to Plant  |  How to Plant  |  How to Feed  |  How to Water  |  How to Prune  |  How to Propagate  |  Common Issues  |  When do They Flower  |  Magnolia FAQs  |  Inspiration

Choosing the Correct Magnolia for Your Garden

Magnolias can be either shrubs or trees, and it’s important to know which you’re growing. Some can also be deciduous or evergreen. Before planting, double-check the plant information to see what to expect.    
You can also pick different sizes to suit your garden! Magnolias can be compact, medium-sized, or large, and this all depends on the variety grown.   
Small varieties include M. stellata or similar cultivars, which can be grown in containers. Medium-sized magnolias are varieties like M. x soulangeana or M. denudata. And finally, large varieties include types like M. grandiflora.   

When to Plant Magnolias

Magnolias can be planted any time of the year but are best planted in spring or autumn when the ground isn’t frozen and can be worked.   

Where to Plant Magnolia

Mostly, magnolias are grown in the ground – but they can be grown in containers. Most prefer a sunny spot, fertile and well-drained soil that’s either slightly acidic or neutral, and a sheltered position.   
However, there is a magnolia for all kinds of soil! For example, dry or wet soil is the perfect home for Magnolia grandiflora.   

How to Plant Magnolias

Magnolias are usually supplied in pots, making the planting process an easy one.     
• Dig a hole that’s as deep as the root ball, but around three times wider to help the roots spread.  
• If you need to, add organic matter to the soil before planting to improve heavy or sandy soils.  
• At this point, you can add a Mycorrhizal fungus to the bottom of the planting hole as a natural fertiliser. Find out more on the science behind Mycorrhizal fungi in this blog.   
• Avoid trimming the roots of Magnolias before planting as they hate to have their roots disturbed.   
• Soak bare-root trees/shrubs for 30 minutes before. This applies to plants in containers too.   
• Place the plant in the hole, adding a stake if necessary. This is essential for larger trees.   
• Refill the hole, making sure the soil fills all the gaps, leaving no air pockets.   
• Firm down the soil until it feels hard, and water well.   

How to Feed Magnolias

You can feed Magnolias annually in their first couple of years. This can be done in late winter, by scattering a general fertiliser around the base of the plant. But after that, they won’t really need feeding unless their flowering needs encouragement.   
Container-grown plants will need regular feeding, as they don’t have direct access to nutrients like those planted in the ground will have. Feed often in their growing months with a general fertiliser.

How to Water Magnolias

New plants will need to be watered regularly in their first few years. Once they’re established, they may still need watering in periods of drought. This applies to magnolias grown in the ground and in containers.    

How to Prune Magnolias

Deciduous Magnolias won’t necessarily need an annual prune, as they lose their leaves over winter. But there are a few select circumstances when pruning may be necessary.   
- Removing dead or diseased wood to keep the tree healthy.   
- To reduce their size, which you can do by thinning out stems down to the trunk or to a sideshoot. Do this over a few years so it doesn’t stress the tree.   
- To reshape after planting, as you may notice some oddly placed stems.    
Pruning on these magnolias can be done in mid-summer or early autumn, as the cuts can bleed in winter or spring.  
 Evergreen Magnolias have leaves all year round so pruning isn’t often needed. The above instructions apply if you feel you need to prune your evergreen magnolia for any reason.   

How to Propagate Magnolias

Want to propagate your Magnolia? Not sure how? Here are a few ways to do it.   
By layering: Shoots nearest to the ground can be layered. This process is easy to do but can take some time (roughly 6 months). Pick a stem that can be bent toward the ground or already is growing close to the floor. Clear away any debris, and with a knife, scratch away the layer of bark underneath the stem – at the point where it’ll touch the floor. You can pin this now, either with a specific propagating pin or simply with a brick or something heavy. Wait patiently, as it can take some time to root. Once you’re positive it’s rooted, cut away the stem from the parent plant and dig up the plant around the roots. Replant this baby plant, caring for it like you would a freshly bought magnolia.   
Magnolias also drop seeds, which you can collect and pop in the fridge for about 2-4 months. Pop them in a bag of moist sand before popping them in the fridge! Sow into pots/trays indoors. This method can take some time, as they’ll be ready to plant out a few years later. 

Common Issues

Magnolias can flower without any issues. However less than ideal growing conditions or care can cause a few problems.   
Blackened flowers/buds - this is often caused by frost damage on early flowering varieties.   
Yellow leaves – This indicates the soil is too alkaline.   
Dying/brown leaves – Often caused by drought. Give your magnolia a soak.   

When do Magnolia's Flower?

Flowering times will vary based on what plant you buy! As we’ve mentioned above, there are different species of Magnolia, each flowering at different times of the year – from February to June.   

Magnolia FAQs

Q: When to prune magnolias  
A: When to prune magnolias truly depends on the variety you have. However, usually, it’s best to prune annually from mid-summer to early autumn.

Q: When do magnolias flower  
A: This depends on the variety. Magnolias can flower any time between February to June.

Q: Can I plant a magnolia tree in a small garden?  
A: There are plenty of magnolias to suit any garden size. Compact varieties are your best option if you’re tight on space.

Q: How quickly do magnolia trees grow?  
A: Magnolias are seen as an investment tree, as they can take anytime between 10-20 years to reach maturity. 

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