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How to Grow and Care for Magnolia

How to Grow and Care for Magnolia

The magnolia tree is native to China and Japan, where they grow in large numbers along rivers and streams. In the United States, magnolias were brought here by early settlers and planted in gardens across the country. They are easy to grow from seed and require little maintenance once established. Let’s uncover How to Grow and Care for Magnolia.

You can plant magnolias from seedlings or cuttings. The best time to start growing magnolias is in late winter or early spring. Plant them in full sun in well-drained soil.

Planting a Magnolia Tree

The best way to plant a magnolia is to dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and place the tree in the center. Fill around the roots with rich compost and water well. If you want to grow one in a pot, choose a container at least 12 inches deep and fill it with a mixture of peat moss and perlite. Water thoroughly and keep moist but don’t let the top dry out.

How to Grow Magnolia Grandiflora From Seed

The seeds should be planted at least two weeks before the last frost date but preferably three months beforehand. They should be kept moist during germination and watered regularly until they sprout. Once the seedlings emerge, keep them well watered and fertilized. After six weeks, transplant into individual pots.

Magnolia Growing Conditions

If the weather is cold, you may want to consider planting magnolias in containers indoors during winter. They don’t like temperatures below ten °C (50°F), so they won’t survive outdoors if temperatures drop too low.

Where to plant magnolias

The best place to grow them is in a sheltered spot with lots of suns and some shelter from strong winds. They don’t like being planted too close together, so space them at least 2m (6ft) apart. Choose a large container with drainage holes if you want to grow one in a pot. 

How to propagate magnolias

The best way to propagate magnolias is by grafting, but if you don’t have access to a professional grower, you could try growing them from seed. Seedlings take around three years to reach maturity, so start now!

Caring for a Magnolia Tree

The first year after planting, magnolias should be watered regularly but only during dry spells. After that, they don’t require any water at all. They grow slowly and won’t flower until five years old. If you want to encourage them into bloom, cut back the branches by half each spring.

Light

The best way to grow them is to plant them in springtime after all danger of frost has passed. They prefer the sun, but they tolerate light shade. In warmer climates, they may survive temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit).

Soil

If you live in a temperate climate, you can plant your magnolia in spring, but if you live in a colder region, wait until late autumn. Plant them at least three meters apart. They prefer well-drained soil, so dig in some compost before planting.

Water

The best way to water is by hand, but if you don’t have access to a hosepipe, use a watering can. This should only be done once a week at most, so keep this to a minimum. If you live in an arid area, you may want to consider investing in a rain gauge.

Temperature and Humidity

The best time to plant a magnolia is between April and June, but if you live in a cold climate, you may find your trees struggling to survive. If you live somewhere warm, you might want to consider planting them outside during the winter months.

Fertilizer

The best fertilizer for magnolia trees is a slow-release organic fertilizer like fish emulsion. It should be applied at least once every three months during the growing season. If you don’t want to apply fertilizer, mulch around the base of the plant with composted manure or wood chips.

Pruning

You shouldn’t prune your magnolia until after flowering. Prune back hardwood branches to encourage new growth. You can cut off old dead branches but leave the older ones alone.

Propagating Magnolia Grandiflora

The easiest way to propagate magnolias is by grafting. Cut off the shoot at ground level and insert it into the rootstock. Wait for new growth, then cut back any suckers that appear. This method works best if you want to grow several plants from one parent, but it takes some skill to avoid damaging the roots of the original plant.

An Interview with Harry Simpson
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