Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

The somewhat bizarre-looking plants with their gnarled twigs and porcelain-like flowers can now be found in many gardens in this country. A magnolia tree can grow ten meters and higher, even small varieties can reach a size of up to two meters. Sometimes, after a few years, it is inevitable that the space is too small or that the site conditions do not meet the requirements of the stately plants. A redesign of the garden can also involve a transplant of the magnolia. However, there are a number of things to consider. Here are some tips.

make preparations

Transplanting magnolia trees should always planned for the longer term so that the plants can grow properly and announce the spring with numerous flowers every year. The right location is always important when planning, and the following must be taken into account in particular:

  • light requirement
  • ground conditions
  • enough space and
  • wind exposure

light requirement

The light requirement always depends on the magnolia variety. Most of the varieties that grow here love a sunny to partially shaded place. There are also some that need a full sun location. Ideal would be:

  • at least four hours of sun a day
  • Protection from the blazing midday sun
  • a south, south-east or south-west facing place
  • no warming of the soil in the root area in summer

tip: Underplant magnolias or apply a layer of mulch to protect against evaporation in summer, especially on young plants.


In order for the magnolias to grow well, an adequate supply of water and nutrients is necessary. The right condition of the soil is particularly important here. He must

  • profound
  • nutritious with a high humus content
  • well permeable to water, no waterlogging
  • slightly moist with good water storage capacity and
  • be slightly angry.

A pH value of the soil between 5.5 and 6.8 is ideal, then an optimal nutrient supply is guaranteed. Magnolias do not tolerate sandy, loamy or heavy soil very well. Therefore, sand or grit should always be worked in on heavy soils and mature compost on sandy and loamy soils to improve the soil. This allows water to drain and the roots are well aerated.

tip: Depending on the nature of the soil, rhododendron or bog soil can be added to the excavated soil in a mixing ratio of 1:1.

Provide enough space

Magnolias grow slowly, but can grow up to ten meters high and also reach an impressive width in old age. These imposing plants need a lot of space for good growth and development. Since magnolias do not necessarily like pruning, this should also be taken into account when choosing the location. A correspondingly large space must therefore be planned for new plantings and transplants:

  • an area with a diameter of four to eight meters for tree-
    growing magnolias
  • enough space to buildings, wall and property line
  • enough space to neighboring plants
  • three to five meters of space on all sides, depending on the variety

Accordingly, less space is required for small shrub or columnar magnolias.

Protection from cold winds

It should not be forgotten that magnolias need a wind-protected location. However, sheltered from the wind does not mean that there should be no draft. There must be no accumulation of heat and no heat accumulation, especially in summer. Such a location is particularly important for species where the flowers appear before the leaves and also large-leaved species such as Magnolia macrophylla (Big-leaved magnolia) and Umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetata). Protection from cold easterly winds is particularly important, as late frosts can quickly destroy the blooms here. The petals turn brown and eventually fall off.

tip: If the soil conditions and the location are right, the magnolia grows and thrives well and rewards you with magnificent flowers. The young wood can also mature well before winter and thus prevent winter damage.

root system

The older the tree, the more branched the root system

Depending on the age, the root ball is more or less branched. A distinction is made between main, secondary and fine roots. The fine roots absorb the water from the soil and the main and secondary roots collect it and pass it on to the trunk. The longer a tree is rooted, the further the fine roots have moved away from the trunk over time. If you carelessly dig up the root system, only the main and secondary roots usually come to light. However, these are not able to absorb water from the ground. The fine roots are usually damaged or hardly available. When transplanting, it can easily lead to growth problems.

Magnolias are flat-rooted

Magnolias own one shallow root system. The roots have spread out in a dish shape and flat below the surface of the earth. The plants do not have deep taproots. Depending on the soil conditions and the age of the magnolia, the root system can protrude 1 to 1.5 meters into the ground, sometimes even deeper. They do not form typical root balls and can therefore quickly fall apart when digging up.

Trees that have only been in one place for two to three years are usually easier to transplant than older, well-established plants. To make it easier for them to grow, special measures are necessary.

cutting tree roots

This method is just about older specimens better than just digging it up. The procedure is as follows:

  • in the spring, remove all the roots with a spade within a radius of 50 cm around the trunk
    pierce and dig a ditch
  • Fill ditch with mature compost, water extensively
  • Cover the root area with bark mulch to prevent water evaporation in summer
  • Keep soil constantly moist
  • in spring it can be transplanted

During the year, new fine roots are formed on the cut root ends to absorb water. The loose humus soil promotes root formation and provides the plant with nutrients.

Follow our care tips and instructions so that you can enjoy your tulip magnolia for a long time.

time for transplanting

As with other plants, the best time to transplant magnolias is in the middle of the month

  • Spring before flowering, mainly for evergreen magnolias and
  • Autumn when the leaves are shed.

Transplant magnolias in 11 steps

Before transplanting, it should always be noted that magnolias are flat-rooted. Therefore, digging must be done carefully so as not to damage too many roots. Once all the preparations have been made, you can start:

  • Dig a planting hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball
  • in two- to three-year-old plants root system in a radius of 40 cm
    expose trunk
  • in older specimens, dig out roots over a large area (in the previous year
    root cutting 50 cm from the trunk)
  • Insert tree in new planting hole
  • Observe current earth mark, do not set deeper
  • for larger plants (175 to 200 cm) plant stake at an angle and 60 cm deep
    Insert the east side up to under the crown, fasten with a tree tie or coconut rope
  • If necessary, mix the remaining excavation with rhododendron earth and plant a hole
  • Press the soil well, do not tamp (be careful of root injuries!)
  • Form a watering edge 5 cm deep around the plant
  • Water the soil generously and keep it constantly moist from now on
  • when transplanting in autumn, the roots should be protected for the winter

To cut

The plants need at least two to three years at the new location until they have grown well again. Then the plant stake can also be removed. Sometimes when transplanting, a root cut may also be necessary because roots have been injured. In most cases, the roots that are still present are then no longer able to supply the magnolia completely with water. In this case, pruning above the plant is also necessary to limit water evaporation through the leaves, otherwise the tree can dry out. The following must be observed:

  • Do not shorten the leaders
  • Shorten all shoots of a heavily branched crown by a third
  • heavier pruning of long, unbranched branches
  • the incision is always made over an outward-facing eye
  • always pay attention to small, smooth cut surfaces
  • if necessary wound sealing with tree wax

tip: When cutting back, always use clean and sharp cutting tools to avoid creating any unnecessary surfaces for pathogens to attack.

Is transplanting worth it?

Later transplanting magnolias can be quite problematic. In the worst case, the tree dies or becomes ailing, since magnolias do not necessarily tolerate a change of location. It is therefore advisable to plan sufficient space in the garden before planting these bizarre beauties. Of course, the soil conditions and the location have to be right. Once a magnolia has been planted in a suitable location, you can confidently leave it to its own devices. Little care is required and it then shows itself in full beauty with lush flowers every year.

tip: Magnolias are slow-growing trees. Like daphne, witch hazel or Japanese decorative maple, these are difficult to transplant.

Tulip Magnolia Magnolia soulangiana

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!