Magnolia magic: Learn how to plant your own magnolia tree

The goblet-shaped flowers of magnolia trees herald spring each year Picture: Getty Images/iSt

The goblet-shaped flowers of magnolia trees herald spring each year Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Archant

Find out how to plant and care for your own magnolia during lockdown.

Spring is here and the magnolia flowers are exploding exquisitely into life. And with more time at home and in the garden, what better opportunity will there be to plant your own magnolia sapling?

First, you’ll need to get your hands on the tree itself. Garden centres are closed to the public during the coronavirus lockdown, but you can order online at websites such as for home delivery. Choose from different ornamental garden varieties, including deciduous and evergreen, and then pick your blossom. Would you prefer handsome white and pink leaves? Perhaps red flowers or even yellow starburst?

Next, pick a gloriously sunny spot, as magnolias thrive in the sunshine. A tree-shaped magnolia, rather than a sapling, will need between four metres and eight metres diameter space, while shrub-shaped growing varieties will require less room. You’ll also want to conduct a soil pH test. If your garden has chalk or limey soil, your magnolia is unlikely to flourish as they prefer clay or acidic soil.

Use a leaf mould or compost and be sure to dig a hole approximately one metre in diameter. Magnolias have shallow roots, so you won’t need to dig in deep – just work the sapling into the surface. Unpack the root-ball, placing it right at the centre of the hole. Be sure to pay attention to the soil mark on the sapling’s trunk, and don’t plant the tree any deeper than this marking. Then, place a stabilisation post nearby and carefully tie this to the tree.

Form a water trench around the plant pit with the excavated soil and gently firm it down afterwards to form a cone of soil around the roots.

Next, water, water, water! Abundant watering is necessary for a newly planted magnolia to grow – you could even think about feeding it once a month. Seaweed feed is a good option and it is worth investing some time and energy to do this for the first few years.

You can also mulch the sapling with pine bark, but please ensure that you do not mulch your magnolia with mushroom compost as it won’t like it.

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Now, kick back and delight in the sweet, fragrant aroma and colourful flowers which burst into life every spring and summer – just like magic.

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