Tips for planting and garden care

Magnolias exhibit an impressive and elegant floral display with their porcelain-like flowers. Whether it’s a tree or a shrub, magnolias are among the most popular ornamental trees for parks and gardens.

Long before parks and gardens were even thought of, the first representatives of the magnolia family grew up on the primeval earth. Fossil records have shown that the first magnolia species grew more than 100 million years ago. Although their flower shape simply enchants many people, botanists consider flowers to be a rather primitive structure. However, they are extremely robust and defy many plant pests and diseases. Today, over 220 varieties are known around the world. Magnolias are originally native to Asia and America. But now about 100 varieties are also thriving in this country.

Plant a magnolia in the garden

One might think that with their elegant blooms, magnolias (Magnolia) are difficult candidates in the garden. This is not entirely correct. Magnolias are considered demanding when it comes to the right location. The plant needs a place in the garden sheltered from the wind and sunny, especially from the east. The sun-loving plant generally does not get along well with too shady a place. Because when there is little sunlight, magnolias form fewer flowers and get tired. The soil must have a slightly acidic pH, be permeable and rich in humus.

Whether as a shrub or a tree, a magnolia needs sufficient distance from other plants. Good care, good location – so a magnolia tree can be around 100 years old. Depending on the type and variety, the canopy grows quite extensively over time. In general, you should keep a maximum distance of five meters from other plants. Solitary planting is ideal for larger plants. Planted individually and at a natural distance from other plants, a magnolia is an eye-catcher in the garden.

Popular varieties

You should definitely plan enough space for the cucumber magnolia (Magnolia acuminata). The tree reaches a proud height of around 20 meters. However, there are also many varieties that make an impressive figure in small gardens, such as the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) with its dense growth of up to two meters. The star-shaped and fragrant flowers of the “Royal Star” variety appear in early spring. “Nigra” is also popular with its purple flowers and a growth height of up to three meters.

Also interesting: when mulch is used in the garden

Optimal care for magnolia


The noble ornamental tree does not tolerate too long dry phases in summer, the soil must therefore always be kept moist. As with many other plants in the garden or in the tub, stagnation of water must be avoided at all costs.


Magnolias are the so-called “flat roots”. Plants usually need little fertilizer. A layer of mulch spread around the tree grate helps protect sensitive roots from drought. Bark mulch is often recommended for this. However, this can lead to disaster for wild bees and small animals, as myHOMEBOOK reports in this article. Either way, the commercial mulch should have a seal of approval.

WDR experts recommend planting plants around magnolia that act as a ground cover and thus protect them from drying out, for example “Small Evergreen” or “Heuchera”.


Pruning magnolias is only advisable if you want to control growth. For example, as is customary in the Japanese Niwaki garden tradition. Otherwise, dry branches should be carefully removed. Otherwise, cut as little as possible!

Appropriate: garden shrubs that do not need to be pruned


An older, more stable magnolia usually doesn’t need frost and cold protection. The situation is different for young trees. The canopy, sensitive to cold, can be protected from freezing nights with a fleece. Winter protection also offers some soil that you put around the trunk.

diseases and parasites

Magnolias are quite resistant to plant pests and diseases. If the weather is too cold, leaf spot diseases can occur, caused by bacteria. The damage is shown by black spots and holes on the leaves. Over time, the shoots die off.

In general, a magnolia should be in an airy location and have sufficient distance from neighboring plants. Your leaves can therefore dry out faster after a downpour. Affected parts and leaves of the plant must be removed immediately, and diseased branches and shoots must be cut in good time.

One plant can literally attack a magnolia – ivy. The climbing plant is considered a strangler and is not good for the magnolia. The ivy should therefore be removed as soon as possible. However, the plant is persistent. What helps as additional protection is a tree disc that is placed around the magnolia. To prevent ivy from climbing back onto the magnolia, place cardboard, a coconut mat or aluminum foil around the affected areas of the tree trunk and cover it all with a thick layer of mulch. Normally you should avoid bark mulch. As a protective layer against ivy, it is partly fine. The ivy then dies after a short time.

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