The Magnolia tree is surprisingly diverse in the climates it can be grown and cared for. Perhaps no tree is as associated with a region as the Magnolia is with the southern states in the U.S. However, the Magnolia can be grown in other areas as long as the proper steps are followed and the grower is knowledgeable about how to grow and care for Magnolia trees.
The most important factor in the health and longevity of a Magnolia tree is choosing the correct type for the area. Most gardeners do not plant Magnolia trees they have grown from seed. Instead, they purchase a sapling from a local nursery, grower, or discount store. Any tags or wrappings with the young tree will reveal whether it is suitable for the grower's area; if that information isn’t readily available, try asking the nursery’s employees.
After the tree is purchased, the next step is to prepare the ground and the sapling for planting. The tree should be planted according to any special directions provided for your area. Barring that, a general rule is to plant the tree on the north side of the yard, well away from the house, to allow the maximum amount of springtime sunshine to reach the plant and help develop blossoms. Different varieties of trees grow to different heights and widths so the grower should take the maximum tree height into account when planting in the yard so as not to interfere with other trees or the house. Most varieties of Magnolia will grow to be 30 to 40 feet tall and about half as wide.
Magnolias do best when planted in soil that is both well-drained and rich in organic matter. The gardener may choose to put rotted manure or compost into the hole in which the tree will be planted (in addition to soil). A slightly acidic soil is best, but Magnolias grow well even in soil that is alkaline if the gardener uses fertilizer to help reduce the alkalinity and raise the acidity.
When planting the Magnolia, the roots should be carefully examined. Some trees have roots which tend to encircle the other roots, eventually causing problems. This can be avoided by cutting off any roots that are already showing a tendency to grow in a circular fashion prior to planting.
The hole for the tree should be twice as large as the root ball of the sapling and, after the tree is placed in there, should be filled with the compost, manure and soil mixture. The grounds should then be watered with a combination of water and root stabilizer.
After planting, the only real care the Magnolia tree requires is an occasional pruning to allow new branch growth and watering on a regular basis. The watering should be done frequently while the tree is developing the root system and afterwards on a periodic basis. As the tree grows, be sure and water to just beyond the branch line, as the roots will extend at least that far. The pruning is necessary to enhance the blossoms on the larger branches.