The Q&A Archives: Magnolia Prep

Question: I am planting a Southern Magnolia. A local radio garden host 'demands' that one remove the top four inches of soil before planting a bucket, or non-balled, tree. This tree's top four inches is filled with small roots. Wont I do more damage, removing that root structure, than good when I romove the four inches of soil? Should I just plant it as it is? I read the other information on S. Magnolias and it was helpful. jb

Answer: Jerry,

I'm not sure what the radio host is thinking about and can't help but think something is getting lost in translation. I would plant the tree as is but would definitely look closely for any roots encircling the container and either unwind or cut them. You can take a utility knife and make 4 vertical slices down through the outside of the root ball. The roots will then branch and grow from the cut points and thus reduce girdling problems down the line.

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