When to Plant Magnolia Trees – Planting Guide 2024

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We’re all used to flowers growing from plants on the ground but there are quite a few trees that will also give us this spectacle. Magnolia trees are some of the first to bloom in the spring. Find out when to plant these trees and how long it will take before you get to enjoy their gorgeous blooms.

When to plant magnolia trees: There are many varieties of magnolia trees so you want to do your homework before planting. If you have an evergreen magnolia tree that won’t lose its foliage, it is best to plant it in the spring. However, if you have a deciduous magnolia tree that does lose its foliage in the winter, then fall is the best time to plant. Give your tree plenty of water the first year after planting to encourage root growth. However, once your tree is established, it should be fine on its own. Magnolia trees do not require a lot of upkeep. They don’t need much pruning but they will grow quite tall and wide. Expect blooms in the spring or summer, depending on the variety, and be sure to find out the expected size of your variety before planting. Some magnolia trees can grow to be 80 feet tall, which can be quite a surprise for some gardeners.

Planting Magnolia Trees in Different Climates

Tropical Climate

Magnolia trees are native to the southern United States that often have very humid summers. You can try a magnolia tree in a tropical climate, although you should be careful to monitor the tree for signs of root rot or other moisture-related diseases.

Dry Climate

Magnolias are probably not a good option for a dry climate. They like moist soil when they are young trees and after that, they need a steady source of rainfall to grow.

Temperate Climate

Magnolia trees do really well in a temperate climate. The winters are not too cold and the moderate summers mean there is no risk of your tree withering from drought.

Continental Climate

There are some varieties of magnolia trees that will grow in a continental climate. Be sure to find a hardier variety that will withstand colder winter temperatures.

Polar Climate

While some magnolia trees are fine in cold winters, none can survive a polar climate.

Choosing Magnolia Tree Seeds

Star Magnolias

Those that live in colder climates will want to consider this variety. They can handle very cold winters and will continue to grow year after year.

One drawback is that the flowering season is a bit shorter with this variety. Expect blooms to appear in April but by May they will be gone. Unlike other varieties, in which blooms look like cups, these petals are spread out in a star pattern.

Southern Magnolias

Even though you can find magnolia trees throughout the United States and Canada, they are quintessential southern trees. One particular variety, the Southern magnolia, prefers warm climates, hence its name.

This is a later bloomer and you can expect flowers in the summer. As well, this tree can tower up to 60 feet so be prepared for a giant of a tree.

Yellow Magnolias

If you are looking for a unique magnolia tree variety, you can choose this one. While it has cup-like petals, they are in a soft yellow color.

Yellow magnolias grow fast and prefer warmer climates. They bloom in late spring but you should check to see if the specific tree is fragrant or not.

How to Plant Magnolia Trees


Under the umbrella of magnolia trees, there are different types. What you end up choosing, as well as your location, will decide when you should plant your tree.

Evergreen Magnolias

There are some types of magnolia trees that are evergreen, which means they have foliage year-round. These trees are more common in warmer, southern locations.

If you have an evergreen magnolia tree, it is best to plant it in the early spring.

Deciduous Magnolias

Other types of magnolia trees are deciduous, which means they lose their foliage during the winter. They are more common in northern climates that have cold winters.

If you have a deciduous magnolia tree, it is best to plant it in the fall.


Magnolia trees prefer nutrient-dense soil. It is a very good idea to prepare the planting site ahead of time to give your magnolia tree the best start possible.

Turn up the soil and be sure to add organic matter such as compost or aged manure. While you can add more fertilizer at a later time, this is the best way to give your tree what it needs.

Another factor when it comes to location is thinking about the future. Some varieties of magnolia trees can really spread out, so you want to make sure it has ample space for all its branches.

If you place your tree too close to a house or other trees, you can overcrowd the tree and stunt its growth.

Furthermore, it can be hard to move a magnolia tree after it has taken root. These trees don’t like to be dug up so you want to pick the perfect spot for them.

Magnolia trees prefer full sun or partial shade, so pick a suitable area. Remember that magnolia trees will spread out so ensure the whole tree is in the right location.


The best way to plant magnolia trees is to start when they are about one or two years old. This way, the tree will have an established root ball and will be hardy enough for transplanting.

Cost-wise, young magnolia trees are not very expensive, and the older the tree, the more you will have to pay. You should be able to find magnolia trees at your local gardening center, although if you want a specific variety, you may have to look online.


After you have purchased your magnolia tree, it’s time to get planting. Start by digging a hole that is two to three times the size of the root ball.

After you place the tree in the hole, take care to fluff up the roots a bit. This will give them more space to move around and encourage them to spread through the soil.

After the tree is in the hole, you can then fill it with nutrient-rich soil. Pat it down nicely.

Finally, add a thick layer of mulch around the tree to keep the soil moist. Just don’t put mulch next to the base of the tree as this will encourage pests to come near the trunk.

How to Grow Magnolia Trees


Generally, magnolias don’t need a lot of pruning. They will naturally grow in a pleasing manner so there is little work to be done.

You should still inspect your magnolia tree once a year, however. Late fall or early winter is a good time for this as you will be better able to see all the branches.

Walk around your tree and look for any broken or dead branches and if so, remove them. While the disease is rare, you should still look for any abnormal signs like discoloration or abnormally-shaped bark.

Pests and diseases

One of the really nice features of magnolia trees is that they do not attract many pests or diseases. This is a low-maintenance kind of tree and as long as it starts out in the right conditions, you won’t have to do too much with it.

How to Water Magnolia Trees

After you plant your magnolia tree, you will want to regularly water it. Unless there is a lot of rainfall during the week, aim to hand water your new tree twice a week.

Long periods of watering are best as this way the water will seep deep down into the soil. Then, the roots will be encouraged to reach out to the water source, which will make the whole tree stronger.

Water your tree by hand for at least the first year. However, after this, you shouldn’t have to worry about your tree.

The only time you will need to water a mature magnolia tree is in the summer. If you don’t have any rainfall or are in the middle of a heatwave, then your magnolia tree will appreciate extra watering.

How long do magnolia trees take to grow?

It will take about three to five years before you first see flowers on your magnolia tree. This can be a bit of a wait but it is worth it.

You can speed up the time by buying an older magnolia tree, although this will be more expensive.

As for maturity, magnolia trees take about 10 to 30 years before they are fully mature. Depending on the variety, magnolia trees can grow between 20 and 80 feet tall, so you can expect them to keep growing for quite some time.


Magnolia trees are a real delight to have in your garden. They have gorgeous, often fragrant flowers that bring color and character to the spring and summer. If you have an evergreen magnolia tree, plant it in the spring while if you have a deciduous magnolia tree, plant it in the fall.

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