How to Grow a Magnolia Tree: The Frank P Matthews Guide

Magnolia trees are among the most stunning and revered additions to any garden, celebrated for their large, fragrant blossoms and lush, glossy foliage. Growing a magnolia tree is a rewarding experience, but it does require some specific care to ensure that these splendid trees reach their full potential. Here’s everything you need to know about growing a magnolia tree in your garden.

Choosing the Right Location

Magnolias are full sun to part shade lovers, meaning they thrive best in bright, direct sunlight for at least part of the day, but they can also tolerate some shade. The right balance will depend on your climate; in hotter regions, afternoon shade can help protect the tree from excessive heat.

Soil Requirements

The ideal soil for magnolia trees is consistently moist, slightly acidic, and well-drained. These trees do not fare well in dry or overly wet soils, so ensuring proper drainage is crucial. Amending your garden soil with compost can improve its texture and nutrient content, creating an ideal environment for your magnolia’s roots to grow.

Protecting from the Elements

Magnolia trees require a sheltered planting site to protect their early spring buds and delicate flowers from being damaged by cold winds and late frosts. A location shielded by a building or a hedge can provide the necessary protection against harsh conditions.

Watering and Mulching

Consistent moisture is key to a healthy magnolia tree, especially in the first few years and during dry spells. Mulching around the base of the tree with organic material like bark chips or leaf mould will help retain soil moisture and regulate temperature, reducing the stress on the tree.

Pruning for Health and Shape

The shape and size of a magnolia tree can be effectively controlled through careful pruning. The best time to prune is either immediately after the flowers have faded in spring or during the late summer. Pruning in spring allows you to enjoy the full bloom before shaping the tree, while late summer pruning helps prepare the tree for the next growing season. It’s important to remove any dead or damaged branches and to thin out dense areas to allow light and air to reach the inner branches.


While magnolias are not heavy feeders, an annual application of a balanced, slow-release fertiliser formulated for acid-loving plants can help support their growth and flowering. Apply fertiliser in early spring, as new growth begins, to maximise its effectiveness.

Long-Term Care

As magnolia trees mature, they require less intensive care, but monitoring for pests, diseases, and environmental stressors is essential to maintain their health and beauty. Regularly inspecting the tree and maintaining proper care routines will ensure that it continues to thrive and bloom spectacularly year after year.

Growing a magnolia tree is a commitment to creating a striking focal point in your garden that, with the right care, will provide beauty and shade for many years. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your magnolia tree grows strong and healthy, bringing a touch of southern elegance to your landscape. Whether you’re planting your first magnolia or caring for an existing tree, the rewards of their stunning floral displays are well worth the effort. Check out our range of magnolias available to order online here.

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