The Q&A Archives: Saucer Magnolia

Question: I will be receiving a Saucer Magnolia soon via mail. I need more information on the best location to plant and the tree's care & upkeep. I think that it is going to make an elegant addition to my landscape.

Answer: What a great choice! Here are some tips: Plant magnolias in full sun or dappled shade in rich, slightly acidic, moisture-retentive loam. Like most plants, they?ll tolerate less-than-ideal conditions if they?re sated otherwise. Be sure to select the site with care, as established magnolias do not transplant easily.

All magnolias have shallow root systems, so the surrounding soil shouldn?t be cultivated too much; underplant with perennials or groundcovers rather than annuals. Magnolias should be bought as balled-and-burlapped or container-grown plants: they have a fleshy root system that breaks easily if you try to plant them bare-root and, unless they?re in active growth, the damaged roots will rot rather than heal. It?s also preferable to buy small plants since they suffer less root damage.

In most gardening regions, spring planting is best, although fall is feasible in regions that have milder winters, such as your region in southern California. Prepare a hole at least twice the size of the root ball so roots can stretch out; site the plant no deeper than it was in its original container. Refill the hole with the original soil, water well and apply a 3-inch layer of mulch to help retain moisture. Be prepared to water during any prolonged periods of drought during the first year. This is critical to a magnolia?s survival (water if leaves feel limp to the touch).

Once established, magnolias may need occasional pruning to keep them in bounds. This should be done in early summer after flowering. Remove damaged and crossed branches, shoots growing toward the centre of the plant and, once the magnolia grows larger, any lower branches that have become an obstruction.

In the wild, magnolias grow in woodlands where they benefit from decomposing leaves. To compensate for this in the garden, feed them with a granular, slow-release fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formulation, in early spring. Apply around the plant?s drip line. However, don?t fertilize at all for the first couple of years; you want the plant to develop a spreading root system.

Hope this answers all your questions about growing a saucer magnolia. If not, be sure to stop by again with your questions.

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by plantmanager and is called "Captivating Caladiums"