The Q&A Archives: Pruning Magnolia

Question: I have a large magnolia tree that overhangs our pool and needs to be trimmed back. When is the best time to trim this tree and how much can it be trimmed back?

Answer: Magnolia doesn't need trimming for its own growth's sake. If limbs are in your way, trim them back to where they branch or join the trunk. This way you won't leave the stubs that do not heal and tend to be points for decay to enter the tree. If you have a lot of pruning to do, it may be best to trim some of the limbs back to the trunk this year and then trim more branches away next year. In general, you shouldn't prune off more than one third of a tree's canopy per year.

The best time to prune is just before the onset of spring. However, if you are only removing a few branches, there is no real problem in pruning anytime from late winter through summer. Avoid pruning in the fall, as this can disrupt the tree's hardening off process.

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