There are certain characteristics of a magnolia tree that make it an attractive option to be grown in gardens. When we are talking about this tree, the first few things that comes to our mind are the waxy, rich green leaves, and large white flowers that have a fresh citrus fragrance. This tree also provides us with a lot of shade in the summer. This large, bushy evergreen tree looks beautiful throughout the year, even when it is shedding its flowers. It has almost 90 varieties out of which two species are very popular in yard landscaping. One is the southern magnolia tree which is native to the United States of America, and the other is the Japanese magnolia which is an Asian variety. There are some differences in caring for these two species which have been addressed in the following Gardenerdy section.
How to Care for Magnolias
A few basic requirements are the same for both varieties. They are adaptable to a large varieties of soil provided the soil has good drainage and is slightly acidic in nature. Its ideal pH range should be around 6.1 to 7.5. Their light requirements is full sun to moderate shade and it needs average watering. Other special care that is needed is discussed below.
Make sure the spot where you are planting southern magnolia has enough surrounding space as the tree can grow up to a height of about 50 feet. The best time for planting this tree is the end of summer. Dig a hole in the soil which should be twice as big as that of the tree bulb, place the sapling in the hole, and pack the base tightly with soil. For the first month, the bulb should be watered daily. After completion of a month, add fertilizer to the soil in order to promote the growth of the sapling. In the first three growing seasons, apply 8-10-10 fertilizer lightly to the soil once in a month to improve plant growth. Then reduce the frequency of fertilizing to once or twice in a year.
Pruning is done in order to create the cone shaped dome of magnolia by eliminating the side branches. There are a number of diseases that affect the leaves and branches of this tree. Therefore, pruning is very important to get rid of the diseased and damaged parts of the tree. Little Gem Magnolia is a variety of southern magnolia tree that grows slowly and reaches a height of 20 to 30 feet. One of the crucial aspects of caring for this tree is its pruning. If wrongly done, the growth of the tree gets adversely affected. Identify the discolored leaves and remove them. Cut all the tall branches that are located towards the top of the tree. Trim stray branches that tend to ruin the compact shape of the tree. However, do not prune the Little Gem magnolia when it is blooming.
Japanese Magnolia Tree
Japanese magnolia care is easier because it is resistant towards many diseases and pests. Its size is comparatively much smaller as it just reaches up to a height of about 15 feet. The tree bulb should be planted just before the arrival of winter season. For this reason, adequate protection should be provided to the roots against the freezing temperature. This can be done by adding a thick layer of mulch around the tree which can insulate the roots of the tree from cold weather. Normally, a 2-inch layer of mulching is done, but for this species, it should be double. This magnolia type does not require much water so, once a week watering is enough. If you live in an area which receives good rainfall, then you do not have to water it at all. Once the roots of the tree are properly established, fertilizer should be added in the later part of the winter. Japanese magnolia does not require very meticulous pruning and should be done at the end of the blooming season. However, matured trees should not be pruned at all as it tends to make them prone to various diseases.
With proper care, your planted tree can thrive in different types of climate and soil. Once it has matured, it does not require any real maintenance. It can survive even in drought conditions, and it also develops a strong resistant towards most diseases. So, sit back in your yard and enjoy the lovely scent of magnolia flowers and the cool shade of the tree in lazy summer afternoons!