The Q&A Archives: Star Magnolia Care

Question: I just planted a Star Magnolia and I need some information on how to take care of it. I also need to know about prunning to keep it in shape. I need to know as soon as possible about feeding. I just moved into a newly constructed house so all of the landscaping is new and done by my wife and I.

Answer: Star Magnolias (Magnolia stellata) are lovely small trees! They normally grow to between 10 and 20 feet tall with a spread of 10 to 15 feet. As a rule, they need very little pruning.

You could fertilize it in late fall or early spring using either compost or a specialty tree fertilizer, or a balanced granular fertilizer such as 10-10-10 according to the label instructions. If you are concerned about the quality of your soil, you might wish to run some basic soil tests. Your County Extension (431-7260) can help you with the tests and with interpreting the results. They may also have helpful suggestions for plants which do well in your area.

For the entire first year, your most important job is to make sure the tree is kept well watered (unless the ground is frozen) and mulched. The rule of thumb is an inch of water a week from wither the gardener or the sky, but as the weather cools you won't have to water that often. (Stick your finger in the soil and see if it is dry or not.)

An organic mulch such as shredded bark is also important. It will not only moderate the soil temperature and help to conserve moisture and feed the soil as it breaks down, but it will also help keep weeds and grass (and weed trimmers) away from your tree. Be sure not to place the mulch directly up against the trunk.

Enjoy your tree!

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