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When to prune a mature Magnolia?

Hi all,

I have a mature magnolia (perhaps thirty years old) which has unfortunately outgrown its alotted space. Advice on the matter of how and when to prune it, seems sparse at best. I was wondering whether anyone had any experience or knowledge of doing so.

Thanks in advance,



  • FonzieFonzie Posts: 32

     Branches  damaged, rubbing together need attention. This is best done when the tree is in full leaf.Pruning at this time allows pruning wounds to heal before the onset of winter, and it also makes them less prone to dieback.This is also a good time to cut back or remove any outward facing shoots on wall trained evergreen plants. Cut the highest or widest-growing branches for removal, ( the ones that will reduce the overall height and spread and maintain the desired shape).

    Keep large cuts into old wood to a minimum on deciduous magnolias.

  • NiaNia Posts: 2

    As this is a thread labelled Magnolia I'm putting my query here but am happy to repost it as a new thread if that is preferred:

    My magnolia is a truly splendid Stellata; healthy, vigorous and getting far too big. I moved in to my house a year ago and the magnolia was in situ. The garden is south-facing and the magnolia is at the south end of the garden, very close to the house. Due to the recent rain it has put on a vast amount of growth and is now utterly shading the south end of the garden and the branches are touching the roof of the extension. I don't think its growth has been managed properly, there are at least 3 trunks and lots of offshoots. It's a stunningly beautiful tree when in flower, which I certainly don't want to lose but am aware that pruning them can kill them. It is now simply far too big for its position. Can anyone offer advice? Is there a maximum 'safe' amount of pruning? Should I prune before or after flowering? Advice I read elsewhere was to prune only in winter when the sap is low but that would mean cutting off lots of buds - which is rather what a magnolia is about..

    Many thanks for any help

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    Could it be a good idea to plant another magnolia further from the house as they seem happy in your garden, and then in due time sacrifice the old one?

    It's such a shame to lose a thriving tree, so also go down the pruning road and be quite radical and cut at least one of the branches out.  Stand back and view the tree from every angle before you cut any more.  And do take very good care not to put the saw in the hands of anybody over-enthusiastic in the cutting department.

  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,058

    Magnolias also tend to regrow multiple new shoots from the cut IME, so the resulting shape can alter. So the less removed the better. As with any shrub/tree pruning, give it some feed post prune too. Always prune after flowering. J.

  • NiaNia Posts: 2

    Thnk you both for the responses.  It would be a terrible shame to lose but it's geting so big that it will reach a point where it's a choice of the house or the tree.

  • Dear all,

    I too have a large magnolia tree, that is right outside my dining room window, it is a deep purple and flowers twice during the year, it is lovely but gets too big for its plot, two years ago i pruned it back and it looked lovely, but now it is trying to take over again!

    This weekend i will be pruning it back and getting the shape back, you have to look carefully  when you are doing this to make sure that where you are cutting is a good clean cut, making sure it looks in line with the rest of the tree, it is like getting a haircut not too much but then enough shape to make it look good.

    It worked last time and will do the same again this time. So good luck to you magnolia growers, take the plunge and go for it.


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