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While the magnolia as a shrub knows how to impress with its lush, almost unique blooms, as a tree it is the focus of every ornamental garden. In addition, with over 100 cultivated varieties, it is not only the oldest, but also a very lush representative of flowering plants. In the following instructions we will tell you how to plant a magnolia in your garden at home.

shrub or tree?

Which of the numerous magnolia varieties is the perfect choice for your own garden depends first and foremost on the visual wishes of the hobby gardener. Because not all magnolias are the same. In addition to the growth size, the individual plants also differ in the shape of the flowers and are divided into the large groups of star magnolias and tulip magnolias. With regard to their requirements for location, soil and care, the different varieties are so close together that, in addition to appearance, the available space should be the deciding factor in the decision about shrub or tree.

planting time

When it comes to shrubs and trees, it is usually assumed that replanting should take place in late summer and autumn, or in early spring. Magnolias have been shown to do this spring is to be preferred. Since the plants also develop intensive root formation in the top layer of soil, there is a risk of major damage from low temperatures and frost if they are planted before winter.


The optimal place for the magnolia can be easily described in a few words:

  • Bright
  • Sunny
  • sheltered from the wind

notice: Although magnolia plants are considered to be lovers of full sun locations, they also tolerate a location that is not directly south-facing. Whether south-west or south-east oriented, the locations can vary up to a half-shady, but nevertheless wind-protected and bright place.


Once the right location for the magnolia has been found, it is important to provide it with the optimal growth conditions in this place. Like most plants, it has specific requirements for the soil it is meant to thrive in:

  • Heavy soil, not too much sand or clay, not too loose
  • Good water storage capacity for ideally permanently slightly moist soil
  • High humus content for good nutrient supply
  • Slightly acidic soil, pH between 5.5 and 6.8
  • Low lime content (with a few exceptions among the magnolia species)

Since hardly any naturally occurring soil in the garden has all these properties by itself, a little extra help is usually required for the well-being of the magnolias. The optimal substrate can be achieved with little effort with the following steps:

  • Addition of up to 1/3 hummus
  • Fold in acidic rhododendron soil
  • Alternatively: use bark humus instead of rhododendron soil, but first clarify compatibility with the selected magnolia variety!

tip: Cover the improved soil with bark mulch to prevent premature drying and to retain moisture in the root area

Magnolia plants - instructions

If the location and substrate match the needs of the magnolia, the actual planting begins. The work steps described below help to carry out all essential work easily and purposefully and not to forget any essential movements:


Magnolias are usually called ball plants offered. This means that the shrub or tree is taken from the place where it was raised, together with the root ball and the surrounding soil, and passed on. After purchase, you should shake off or brush the loose soil from the root ball, as it is often very depleted and does not meet the requirements already described. If necessary, it can be mixed in with the soil improvement in order to avoid the disposal of the earth.

danger: The soil should never be tapped from the root ball or otherwise mechanically removed. There would be a high risk of damaging the fine roots and root hairs, making it even more difficult for the magnolia to grow.

planting pit

Arriving at the new location, a hole suitable for the new plant needs to be dug. The diameter and depth of the pit depend on the size of the plant and especially the root ball. For easy planting and, above all, good development opportunities, it is usually recommended to choose about twice the diameter and one and a half times the depth of the root ball for the pit.

notice: Many guides recommend digging the pit first and then carrying out the soil improvement measures in it. If you choose this path, the hole should be designed as generously as possible. Because magnolias can otherwise be subject to a growth shock if the delicate roots suddenly reach the "poorer" environment at the edge of the planting pit. We therefore recommend a comprehensive soil improvement, which will also bring benefits to the plant in the medium and long term, before the planting pit is made.


Now the plant is carefully inserted into the prepared hole. There are two options here. Small plants are easy to hold and then fill up on all sides. With larger specimens, on the other hand, it is worth first putting some prepared soil in the hole, then placing the root ball on it and then filling it from all sides. The filled soil should be firmly pressed or trampled down to prevent the magnolia from settling too much and possibly tipping over. Don't worry, even well-trodden soil is still loose from the plant's point of view and therefore well suited for the formation of new roots.

It has proven to be good to do the filling step by step and to press the soil down again and again. Otherwise, in the case of larger planting pits, soil must be refilled after a few waterings, since it settles again anyway as a result of the water being washed in.


To give magnolias a good start after setting, you should water them carefully. You should also water regularly in the coming days, as soil moisture is one of the main factors for good root formation. In order to keep the moisture in the soil for a long time, the soil above the root ball can be covered with bark mulch. This reduces evaporation and supports the moisture and temperature balance of the soil.

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