Magnolia trees (Magnolia sp.) Are famous for their large, erect white flowers which are put against elongate, glossy green leaves. Although some kinds of magnolia are deciduous, other species are evergreen, maintaining their dark green foliage throughout the year. Knowing how and when to prune these lovely trees can help ensure success in keeping them healthy and profitable.
Two different kinds of evergreen magnolias are generally cultivated in the U.S.. The more common of the two, called the southern magnolia (M. grandiflora), is native to the southeastern states and attains a mature height of up to 80 feet with a width of 30 to 50 feet. It’s acceptable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9. Another evergreen, the sweet bay magnolia (M. virginiana), is smaller, growing to a height of 35 feet with an equal spread. It’s most appropriate for USDA zones 5 through 10.
Scheduling pruning at the appropriate time is important to preserve full flower production by magnolias, which usually bloom in mid- to late-spring. The best time to prune evergreen magnolias is in late spring or early summer after flowering is mostly completed. Prior to deciding whether to prune a branch, analyze its surface cautiously looking for new flower buds, which are larger than vegetative buds. To preserve flowering the next year from these branches, you are able to delay cutting them back before the following summer or spring.
Evergreen magnolias are generally huge trees which naturally produce a pyramidal or slightly curved crown. If given sufficient space at planting to accommodate their size, these trees rarely require major pruning. But cutting back protruding twigs or branches or shortening lengthy branches on a young tree to encourage bushier growth may generally improve the form of a tree. Additionally, storm-damaged branches must continually be removed for the health of the tree. Because magnolia flowers have a tendency to brown and keep on the tree for a while, you could also improve the tree’s appearance by cutting these spent flowers off in the branch tips. When doing this, exercise care not to disturb or remove new buds close to the old flowers.
Culture and Varieties
Both sweet bay and southern magnolias make excellent specimen plants in a house landscape. They perform best in moist organic soil, thrive in full sun or partial shade and don’t have any significant pest or disease issues. The sweet bay magnolia can tolerate extremely moist, boggy places, which makes it a good alternative near ponds or streams. The sweet bay range “Australis” has particularly aromatic blossoms and is hardier than the native tree. One of southern magnolia cultivars, “Bracken’s Brown Beauty” and “Edith Bogue” are also quite hardy and smaller compared to the native tree, reaching a height of just about 30 feet at maturity.