A Guide to Pruning Magnolia Trees: When and How

If you’ve ever grown a magnolia tree from a seedling, you know that pruning is a critical step in their care. While magnolias can survive without pruning, our years of experience have shown that pruning can significantly enhance their growth. Unlike some other tree species, magnolias not only tolerate pruning but also benefit from it.

Today, we want to share our tried and tested tips for pruning magnolia trees. From when to prune, how to prune, and even how to prepare for pruning, we’ve got everything covered to ensure your magnolia tree thrives.

How to Prepare for Pruning a Magnolia Tree?

Pruning your magnolia tree should be an annual task to promote strength, health, and an abundance of blooms. Before you start, gather a few essential tools. We recommend a pair of work gloves and your preferred pruning tool. On our magnolia farm, we prefer manual pole pruners, but regular pruners will suffice for smaller trees.

Before you begin pruning, assess the condition of your tree. Look for any brittle, damaged, or dead branches. Identifying areas that require the most pruning will help you plan accordingly.

A Guide to Pruning Magnolia Trees: When and How

When to Prune a Magnolia Tree?

The optimal time to prune a magnolia tree is in early spring or late winter, after the final frost. During this period, the tree is still dormant, making it easier to identify and remove dead or diseased wood. Pruning before the tree blooms allows ample time for robust summer flowering.

It’s worth noting that mature magnolia trees can be more sensitive to pruning than younger ones.

How to Prune a Magnolia Tree?

There are two primary reasons for pruning your magnolia tree. The first is shaping. If you have a specific vision for your magnolia tree’s shape, pruning is the way to achieve it.

The second and most critical reason is optimizing your tree’s growth. On our farm, we use corrective pruning to accomplish this. Corrective pruning involves cutting larger branches (around 1 ½ inches in diameter) dramatically each year, reshaping the tree’s main structure. Often, a corrective prune involves completely cutting a branch in half or removing it entirely. By making these cuts, you redirect the tree’s energy to the other lightly pruned or unpruned limbs, giving your tree the best chance to flourish.

Start the pruning process by removing any injured branches, followed by branches that deviate from your desired tree shape. Lastly, eliminate any branches that are crossing over one another to promote optimal growth.

Additionally, any watersprouts can be removed as they are unlikely to produce flowers and are not vital for the tree’s survival.

We hope you found this overview of magnolia pruning helpful. For more tips on caring for your magnolia tree, check out our guide on Tips Tree Planting. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions. Happy pruning!