How to Grow Magnolia Tree: Planting, Propagation, Care, Diseases

How to Grow Magnolia Tree: Planting, Propagation, Care, Diseases

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Magnolia trees are known for large, fragrant flowers, white and various tones of pink to purple. By their natural environment, magnolias are forest plants that love fresh forest terrain.

Magnolia is a genus in which we distinguish about 120 different species. Deciduous and evergreen trees belong to the family Magnoliaceae. Magnolia can have the appearance of a tree or a larger bush with beautiful flowers at the ends of branches. It has simple oval-shaped leaves. The buds from which the flower will later develop are relatively large, thickened, hairy, and greenish-gray. The flowers can be quite large and of various shapes, depending on the species. They can also be hanging or upright. Magnolia comes from North America and Asia, but today we can find it in many countries around the world as an ornamental tree in parks. In some areas, it grows naturally in forested areas, shrubs, and river banks.

Weather conditions of plantingspring or between summer and fall
Magnolia tree heightdepending on the type, from 4 to 82 ft
Scope of the Magnolia treefrom 10 to 50 ft
The color of the flowersshades of white, pink and purple, greenish and yellow shades can also appear
Magnolia tree careit requires a lot of sun and moisture, it needs to be protected from the wind and pruned if necessary

Table of contents:

Magnolia species

Magnolia grandiflora

Commonly known as the southern magnolia or bull bay magnolia is an evergreen, slow-growing species. It originates in the southern and eastern United States and forms a tree that can grow from 20 to 78 feet in height and up to 50 feet in width. Depending on the climatic conditions, some even reach a dizzying 120 feet.

It has large, beautiful shine-green, elliptical or oval-shaped leaves that are very large (6 to 8 inches in diameter) and are lighter on the underside and often covered with reddish hairs. The flowers are creamy-white in color, fragrant, and can grow up to 10 inches in diameter. They consist of 9 to 12 petals and bloom from May to June, but due to the successful opening of the flowers can bloom longer. The first flowers appear on the tree from 20 to 25 years old, while the Exmouth and Goliath varieties bloom after 8 to 10 years. In the fall, very decorative fruits appear, like a cone with reddish-colored seed husks.

It grows well in deep, rich, and well-drained loamy soil with no lime, in the sun or in the semi-arid. It does not tolerate low air temperatures, so it is often grown in coastal areas. This species is quite resistant to frost, but it needs protection from the wind, like all other magnolias. Mild pruning is recommended to maintain a slightly rounded conical shape.

Magnolia x soulangeana

The most popular species most commonly found in yards and parks. This species is a hybrid formed by crossing between Magnolia denudata and Magnolia liliiflora. It was created by the French agronomist Étienne Soulange-Bodin. It is recognizable by the lush flowers that you can see in the early spring in delicate colors and shades of white, pink, and purple. Most of them are white on the inside and purple on the outside. Tones of color, shape, size, and flowering time vary depending on the variety (cultivar).

It can grow up to 20 feet and is highly tolerant of wind and alkaline soil compared to other types of magnolia. It blooms in April and May, before leafing. This type of magnolia is one of the easiest to grow.

Magnolia stellata

The magnolia stellata, sometimes called a magnolia star, comes from Japan and is best suited for growing in small gardens and is known for its slow growth rate. It blooms first and its flowers resemble stars. It can grow into a round or branched shrub or tree, 8 to 13 feet in height. This species blooms for a year after planting. The flowers appear as late as March and are fragrant, white, star-shaped and 2,5 to 3 inches in diameter. About a month after flowering, pale green leaves about 3 inches long open.

Magnolia planting and propagation

Magnolia looks for deep soil that preserves moisture well, with peat, humus, and slightly acidic soils being the most suitable. But depending on the species, one will thrive better on slightly acidic soil and the other on lime soil. Magnolia propagation is done by so-called air layering or seeding or cuttings of stems in August and September.

If you want to propagate magnolia from the original magnolia tree, choose a low branch that can bend to the ground. Dig a hole about 12 inches deep and wide and place a mixture of soil and sand at the bottom. Remove the excess leaves from the branch you selected, then bend and place them in the dug hole. Secure it with a piece of onion-shaped wire and add the rest of the mixture to cover the branch, and thoroughly ground the soil around.

Take and insert the stick in the ground and secure it with the spigot to the rest of the branch that protrudes to stand upright. Water the place of the layering abundantly and be patient. After a year, the magnolia branch will develop the necessary roots to be ready for harvesting and planting as a new magnolia tree. It is possible for it to develop flowers in the first year so you can enjoy it.

For the propagation of magnolia by seed, stratification of the seed should be made and it will take a long time until it sprouts. Most seed-propagating magnolias only bloom after 8 to 10 years, and some need more. If you opt for this variant, magnolia planting is usually done in the spring, around April. Plant it away from other plants so she can stand out.

It needs to be planted shallow because the root should be in the surface layer of soil. If you plant it too deep it can deteriorate. Deciduous species are better propagated in summer and evergreens from late summer to early fall.

Magnolia cultivation and maintenance

Magnolia requires a lot of suns to grow successfully, but it can also be in light shade. However, in order to have beautiful gorgeous flowers, which is why they are planted, provide the magnolia with enough sun. Since it is quite sensitive to the wind, it is advisable to keep the growing ground protected from the wind, but make sure there is enough room for growth.

During dry periods, water your magnolia regularly and do not dig or plant anything near the stem. Magnolias grow best in drained and humid humus-rich soil. It is best suited to acidic to neutral soil. Some species of magnolia are well tolerated by dry and alkaline soils (eg Magnolia grandiflora), while other species tolerate alkaline soils, but require a lot of moisture (eg Magnolia stellata).

In the spring, it is recommended to put mulch around the plant, especially if the magnolia grows on dry soil. Generally, magnolias do not need much pruning. Removal of damaged, diseased and intertwined branches that spoil the impression of the plant is done immediately after flowering or in late summer and can be pruned in late winter or early spring when the plant is dormant.

Magnolias recover well and drive new shoots out of old wood. Evergreens are pruned by grade and need from mid to late spring. They are susceptible to infection, so if the diameter of the wound is big, it is advisable to use a wound coating agent.

Magnolia tree transplant

When it comes to transplanting magnolia, it is important to emphasize that, during transplantation, care must be taken not to disturb the root of the plant. This means that it should be handled with extreme caution and especially that the root is not damaged.

The ideal time for a magnolia transplant is in early spring when the transplant weather conditions themselves are most favorable.

Magnolia tree diseases and pests

If the leaves begin to show the yellow spots the reason may be chlorosis. If there is too much lime in the soil, the root system of the magnolia will grow poorly and die in such an environment. Pests can suck their juice out of magnolia and thus weaken the plant. Then the leaves from the tree will begin to fall as early as July or August.

Pests can badly damage and weaken magnolia so that it doesn’t bloom next year. Magnolia can also fight mites, worms, and aphids. In the winter, look out for rodents that could damage magnolia roots. From diseases in our climate, magnolia can be affected by fungal infections – rotting seedlings, mold, and Botrytis occur.

You can fight these diseases if you detect them in a timely manner and take the necessary steps immediately. Reduce watering and treat the plant with a fungicide solution. Treatment may need to be repeated.

Use of magnolia

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Magnolia bark extract is used in traditional medicine in the Far East for the treatment of various ailments and medical conditions such as nervousness, depression, anxiety, and insomnia, and is used primarily in the cosmetic industry in the rest of the world.

Magnolia bark contains magnolol and honokiol. These ingredients can reduce facial skin redness and improve skin elasticity and hydration. Even the magnolia trees use it to protect themselves from stress. This same anti-stress effect magnolia bark has on humans.

Magnolia regulates the level of cortisol that our body undergoes intense stress in the adrenal gland, leading to, for example, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalances, and impaired immunity. Honokiol and magnolol have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and muscular systems.

Because of all these positive effects, medicine is increasingly recognizing the ways in which magnolia bark extract can be used in various preparations.

History of Magnolia

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Magnolia is a very ancient genus that evolved even before the appearance of bees, and the flowers have evolved to encourage insect pollination. Fossils of the species Magnolia acuminata about 20 million years old and plants like Magnoliaceae 95 million years old have been discovered. Magnolias have been known since the Cretaceous period when the giant ferns disappeared, and the first genera of invertebrates appeared.

In our region, magnolia is not mentioned in the manuals on medicinal herbs, while Chinese and Japanese have been using the herbal extract for two thousand years in their traditional medicine. This plant comes from Asia, and in China magnolia was a symbol of purity, femininity, beauty, and sincerity, and was planted in imperial gardens and surrounding temples.

At the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, the magnolia was named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol, although the Chinese have long called the name magnolia – hou po, and in their culture, it often symbolizes the yin, that is, the feminine side of life. In some southern parts of the United States, it is not uncommon to see white magnolias in a bride’s bouquet, since they are considered to emphasize the bride’s elegance and purity.