Magnolia Tree Care: Southern vs Little Gem vs Japanese vs Tulip (Guide)

Woman touching a Magnolia Tree blossom and explaining magnolia tree care to a man kneeling on the other side of the trees, watering the base of the trunk.

Magnolia trees are a wonderful addition to any landscape but before you plant, there are a few things to know about  Magnolia tree care. Magnolias have been a popular addition to yards and gardens for years, and they are well-loved by gardeners and homeowners worldwide for a reason. The deep green leaves and shady branches yield gorgeous blooms every year.

But, many gardeners wonder, are the care techniques different for a Southern Magnolia and a Tulip Magnolia? What about the differences between a Little Gem and a Japanese Magnolia tree?

The key is knowing which trees need what type of cultivation and support.

This guide explains everything you need to know about caring for your magnolia tree, whether it is a sapling you’ve just planted or a mature tree that you want to keep healthy.

The benefits of planting trees is just one reason to learn more about Magnolia tree care.

Planting Magnolia Trees: The Easiest to Grow

When caring for a Magnolia tree, it makes sense to start at the beginning, before you plant. Southern Magnolia trees are the most common in and around the United States. They’re also the most difficult to care for since they need specific soil conditions, temperatures, and watering. It might be worth it if you live in a warm climate or have a large yard that can support a Southern Magnolia tree.

Related Reading: Complete Magnolia Tree guide, including various species and where to buy them

Little Gem and Japanese Magnolias are smaller than Southern Magnolias and relatively easy to grow – they’ll probably be less expensive than Southern Magnolias too. The Little Gem is known for having creamy white blooms1 from May to October. Japanese magnolias are also known as saucer magnolias. They’re known for their fat flower buds that bloom in February or March.

Pink tulip magnolia tree blooming in a feild next to a weeping willow tree and green grasses.

(Image: lamomis6)

Tulip magnolia trees bloom twice a year; however, that isn’t a common phenomenon. It usually blooms in early spring and sometimes in late summer. The flowers are cup-shaped and come in pink, white, and purple shades. Tulip magnolia trees can grow up to 20 feet tall, although they are usually smaller in the wild. They should be pruned regularly to keep them looking their best!

Caring For Your Magnolia Tree

Planting a magnolia tree is an ideal way to reduce carbon footprint. You can expand your garden in the spring and summer. Magnolias grow quickly and can reach heights of up to 40 feet!

The following tips apply to almost every Magnolia species:

  • The soil mix used for planting magnolias should be high in organic matter like compost or manure. Add at least two inches of this material to the bottom of your planting hole.
  • The best time to plant your Magnolia is during late fall or winter if you live in a warm area. If the weather in your area is colder, you should plant your Magnolia during early spring.
  • It’s important not only to have enough sunlight throughout their growing season but also to receive some shade during hot summer days since cold weather will slow down growth significantly if plants aren’t properly.

Watering and Misting Above-Ground Magnolia Trees

Above-ground watering is when you water the soil around the trunk and roots of the magnolia tree. This can usually be done by pouring water into a bucket or hose, but overhead irrigation systems are sometimes used.

Misting is when you mist the leaves of your magnolia tree with a fine mist sprayer. This is often done using a hose connected to an overhead sprinkler system, although there are other ways to do it as well. Doing it the right way also helps increase renewable energy green power.

Mist for plants indoors is a bit different, but essentially the same idea.

How To Prune Magnolia Trees

Pruning a magnolia is a task that someone experienced in the art of tree trimming should perform. Pruning a magnolia will help ensure it grows healthily and does not become disfigured or diseased.

The first step in pruning a magnolia is to identify what kind of tree you have. Magnolias are classified as evergreen trees that have leaves with large lobes. Some magnolias have smooth bark, while others have rough bark.

Heavy duty tree branch pruning shears laying on an old blackened tree stump.

(Image: perianjs7)

Once you know what kind of Magnolia you have, you can begin pruning it properly, so it grows healthy. One thing to remember when pruning your tree is that all branches should be evenly spaced.

This way, there are no gaps between them when viewed from above or below. This will allow sunlight into the area where new growth occurs on each branch, promoting healthier overall growth over time!

Types of Magnolia Tree Pests (And How To Control Them)

Magnolia tree pests are a common problem for homeowners, although they can be difficult to control. The most common and most damaging types of magnolia tree pests are scales, thrips, aphids, and caterpillars.

Scale insects are small, wingless insects that look like tiny black dots on leaves or twigs. They cause discoloration and damage to leaves by feeding on sap and causing them to be yellow or brown over time. To control scale insects on magnolia trees, you’ll need to first identify the scale insect species and take action accordingly.

Once you’ve identified the specific type of scale you’re dealing with, it’s time to start treatment. If you want to remove them entirely, you’ll need to use a systemic pesticide spray (usually at least two applications over two weeks). You should also consider applying insecticidal soap when applicable (which will kill both larvae and adults).

Thrips are tiny insects that are incredibly hard to detect, but their presence can be felt on the leaves and stems of your tree. If you notice any damage to your tree’s leaves, you should look for tiny holes in them. If you find these holes, you can be sure there is a problem with thrips.

The best way to control thrips on magnolia trees is to apply systemic insecticides that kill adult insects and their larvae. The following are examples of systemic insecticides for use on magnolia trees:

  • Insecticidal soaps: These products contain a soap base, which kills the adults and larvae by dehydrating them. They are not effective against eggs.
  • Systemic insecticides: These products contain active ingredients that kill adults and larvae when they contact the plant. These products must be applied at least every three weeks for the best results.

Aphids are known for sucking sap from plants and causing them to look like they need water and nutrients. Aphids cause the leaves to be deformed, which makes them less effective in photosynthesis. They also cause the branches to be less strong, which makes it more likely for other insects or animals to eat them. The aphids can also spread diseases such as wilt, leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Do not spray insecticides directly on the plants. Instead, apply insecticidal soap directly to the leaves and stems of your tree. Use horticultural oils and plant-based foliar sprays as a last resort. These treatments should only be used if other methods have failed.

Caterpillars live inside leaves or on twigs and branches of your magnolia tree, feeding on flower buds or young branches until they grow into adults if left unchecked. This damage causes leaves to wilt and fall off prematurely, which leads to more serious problems like root rot if left untreated.

If you discover an infestation of caterpillars on your magnolia tree, there’s no time to waste! Immediately remove them from the area and dispose of them properly – don’t just toss them into a trash can! They may have come from another location in your yard or neighborhood, so it’s best to treat this problem rather than wait until they’ve caused significant damage before removing them from your yard altogether.

How To Take Care of Magnolia Tree (How To Care for the Magnolia Trees in Your Yard)

If you’re wondering how you take care of a magnolia tree,2 here are some tips:

  • Water the tree regularly, but do not overwater it. This will cause root rot, a common problem among magnolia trees.
  • Do not fertilize magnolia trees unless they are in bloom or have been recently planted. There are many other options for fertilizing your tree without risking damage or causing harm to it.
  • Do not prune or remove any branches from an established Magnolia tree without first consulting a professional landscaper.

Magnolia Tree Care in a Pot (How To Care for a Magnolia Tree in a Pot)

Placing a magnolia tree in a pot is a beautiful addition to any home. These trees are known for their long, graceful branches and bright flowers that are in season from spring through fall. Their leaves can grow up to two inches long, and they’re often planted in containers or planters. To maintain their beauty, you must learn how to care for a magnolia tree in a pot.

Magnolia trees need plenty of water and fertilize themselves with their leaves, so it’s important to keep them moist during the growing season. If you notice that your Magnolia is drooping or has lost its leaves, water deeply enough so that it drains out of the pot after 4-5 minutes.

Metal watering can sitting in a field full of white clovers.

(Image: stux8)

During winter, these trees will require less water but may still benefit from an occasional misting with a spray bottle filled with warm water. It’s also important not to let your plant sit in one spot for too long. If you’ve moved it around more than once in the last few months, consider repotting soon!

Magnolia Tree Planting and Care (How To Take Care of Magnolia Tree Varieties)

If you want to learn how to care for the magnolia trees, read on to get more information. Magnolia trees can live for over 80 years but require proper care so they don’t die prematurely or suffer from diseases. Here are some tips on how to care for your magnolia tree:

  1. Pruning: You should prune your magnolia tree every year after it finishes blooming, so it doesn’t get too tall and spindly. You can also prune off branches that have died back to promote better air circulation around the base of the trunk.
  2. Feeding: Check the amount of water you apply to your magnolia tree during drought conditions by checking its soil texture. If it’s too compacted or rocky, you may need to add extra nutrients such as compost or sand (don’t use weed killer!).
  3. Watering: Water your magnolia tree regularly during dry periods by allowing water from a hose to run over its leaves for several minutes each day.

Dwarf Magnolia Tree Care

When it comes to dwarf magnolia tree care, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Dwarf magnolia trees are widely used as small trees in residential landscaping. They grow quickly and can be trimmed into whatever shape you desire.

The dwarf magnolia tree is a relatively low-maintenance plant that does not need to be fertilized or pruned. If you choose to fertilize your dwarf magnolia tree, use a slow-release fertilizer with a high nitrogen concentration.

Magnolia Saucer Tree Care

When learning how to take care of a magnolia tree, you should learn about caring for different types of trees. One of the most common trees is the magnolia saucer tree. The best way to maintain this tree is to keep it properly watered. The best time to water it is during the winter when it’s not in full bloom.

You should also take care of your tree’s soil by adding an organic fertilizer every few months.

How Much Are Magnolia Trees?

The magnolia tree cost depends on the size and quality of the tree you choose. The smaller, lesser-known types cost less than larger, more common varieties. If you’re looking for a large specimen, expect to pay upwards of $100. If you’re looking for something small and beautiful, you’ll probably be looking at around $40 for a 2-3 foot tree.

Southern Magnolia Tree Care

To care for your Southern Magnolia tree, you must prune it every year3 in June or July so that it doesn’t get too big for its roots and begin leaning towards the ground. It is also important to keep the soil around the base of your tree moist so that water can flow into it easily.

Tulip Magnolia Tree Care

Here are some tips for caring for your tulip magnolia tree:

  1. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Watering your tree too much can cause root rot or fungal infections, so make sure the soil is always moist but not soaking wet.
  2. Do not fertilize your tree unless you know what kind of fertilizer it needs and how much to use. If you fertilize your tree, use an organic product like an organic fertilizer blend rather than chemical-based ones because they won’t harm the tree’s roots.
  3. Do not prune your tree if it has new growth; wait until it has stopped growing before pruning it back or cutting off old branches to dry out and die naturally.
  4. Mulch the ground around your tulip magnolia with organic mulch, such as decomposed bark or wood chip mulch.

Little Gem Magnolia Tree Care

Caring for Little Gem Magnolia trees requires proper watering and fertilization throughout the year. In addition to regular watering, these trees can also benefit from weekly applications of a fertilizer that contains high amounts of nitrogen.

These trees are also prone to fungal diseases like mildew and black spot, so regular cleaning with a fungicide is recommended.

Japanese Magnolia Tree Care

When it comes to (Japanese) Alexandrina magnolia tree care, there are a few things you should know.

  • Make sure you water your tree regularly. Most magnolia trees require about two gallons per week for their leaves and branches. Be sure not to let this amount fall below what is recommended by your local nursery or garden center!
  • If possible, avoid cutting off branches from your Japanese Magnolia tree until after it has finished blooming in the spring and summer months. This can harm your tree’s health as it ages and weakens its trunk and branches over time, making it more susceptible to damage from wind or other external factors later on.

Magnolia Tree Planting Zone

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map determines Magnolia tree planting zones. It divides the country into 11 distinct regions. This bifurcation is based on the annual winter temperatures. Each region has its list of plant hardiness zones, and each zone contains areas that are more or less suitable for certain types of trees depending on their height and trunk diameter.

Gardener next to a black wheelbarrow filled with rich, dark soil, while he takes handfuls of soil and sifts it.

(Image: Zoe Schaeffer9)

Magnolia trees thrive in zones 5 to 9, with ideal conditions ranging from 95 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade. The tree grows best in moist soil4 but can also tolerate dry soils.

Magnolia Tree Fertilizer Spikes

Magnolia fertilizer spikes are a great way to make your plants grow faster. They can help plants get the nutrients they need and get a boost of energy in the form of nitrogen.

The spikes are made from organic materials, including tree bark and cottonseed hulls, which means they’re natural and environmentally friendly. These spikes are ideal for sandy soils where nutrients are depleted quicker.

Jane Magnolia Care

While you can do a few things to help your Jane Magnolia trees flourish, they are more susceptible to damage from pests and disease than other trees. If you have many in your yard, it’s best to plant them in a place with full sun and no more than half an inch of rain each year.

You can also prune them regularly to keep the branches compact and bushy, but they don’t need as much care as other types of trees.

Tulip Magnolia tree flower close up in light purple pink outer petals and white inner petals.

(Image: DoctorOne3310)

Magnolia trees, like all others, are excellent at sequestering carbon emissions, so they are a great thing to plant to help lower your eco footprint. However, if you want to do more, learn about tree carbon offsets offered by carbon offset companies that focus on renewing and rebuilding forest ecosystems using native plantings.

Magnolia trees are long-lived and easy to grow if you take the time to learn about them.

Investing a little time learning about magnolia tree care will reward you with one of the most enduringly beautiful ornamental trees.

Frequently Asked Questions About Magnolia Tree Care

Why Are the Leaves on My Magnolia Tree Turning Brown? (Magnolia Tree Not Thriving?)

If you have browning leaves on your magnolia tree, they are probably dying due to pests. The most common threat to the Magnolia is that of aphids, which will eat away at the leaves and other tree parts. If left untreated, the leaves will quickly turn brown and die. To help keep aphids out of your tree, check underneath every leaf so you can treat it accordingly.

What Is the Best Magnolia Tree Fertilizer?

The best magnolia tree fertilizer provides an excellent balance of nutrients needed for healthy growth and maintenance while ensuring that the roots are fed enough nutrients to keep them hydrated.

Magnolia trees prefer to receive their nutrients in liquid form, so you must choose a magnolia tree fertilizer designed for this purpose. If you use regular potting soil in your garden, you’ll end up with a poor-quality fertilizer that may cause your tree to suffer from nutrient deficiencies if you’re not careful.

Where Is the Best Place to Plant a Magnolia Tree?

The best place to plant a magnolia tree5 is in full sun and well-drained soil. The tree should be planted at least two feet away from any structure and is not recommended for areas with severe winters or frost pockets.

When Should You Cut Back a Magnolia?

The answer to this question depends on the type of Magnolia. Most magnolias need to be trimmed every couple of years, but some species are more sensitive than others. If you are unsure which type of Magnolia you have, you can ask a professional horticulturist or your local garden center for advice.

Can You Grow Magnolia Trees in Pots? (Can You Keep a Magnolia Tree Small?)

Yes, you can keep a magnolia tree small. Magnolias are known for having large, spreading roots that can quickly grow out of control if not pruned correctly. This is why removing some of the lower branches is important before planting a magnolia tree in your yard. This will prevent the tree from spreading too quickly and growing past its ideal size.

How Much Space Does a Magnolia Tree Need to Grow?

The amount of space a magnolia tree needs to grow depends on the species and variety. Magnolias can grow quite tall, so they need a lot of space to spread out their branches. The general rule is that they should have at least 4-8 meters in diameter space so all branches can grow in one direction. Some varieties are more tolerant of crowding, while others are less tolerant. Some varieties will even produce flowers and fruit if they’re crowded.


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4Hinkamp, D. (1999, April 10). Magnolias Are Worth the Effort. Utah State University. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <>

5Knox, G. W., Klingeman, W. E., Paret, M. L., & Fulcher, A. F. (2022). Magnolia – Magnolia spp. (Chapter 9). UF | IFAS University of Florida. Retrieved July 16, 2022, from <>

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