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Best time to prune a magnolia

Does anyone know whether it would be ok to prune a magnolia now ?  It is one of the soulangeana type, and is very large (about 20ft).  We need to prune it because it is interfering with the overhead telephone line that leads into the house, and thought now would be a good time - there are no leaves so we will be able to see what we are doing better.  But thought I would check here before the pruning saws come out.

And if now is a bad time, when would be best?


  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,058

    Book says- unwanted branches can be cut off after flowering. So I'd leave it for now, as long as you can wait & enjoy the flowers first- assuming the frost doesnt get them first as sometimes happens.

    But, magnolias dont take kindly to pruning & will rapidly regrow 'water shoots' from any cut ends. These tend to spoil the overall appearance of the tree. You will then need to keep 'on top' of these with further pruning & so on.....

    May be worth considering felling it & replacing with a smaller one such as Stellata or something else. J.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,619

    Any shrub that flowers early in the year should be pruned after flowering. Here is an article from The Telegraph on pruning magnolias.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    I had a large overgrown magnolia. The best time to cut it back is after flowering. There are not that many leaves then as they appear after the flowers. You do have to take care to prune to the natural shape of the tree though otherwise you will end up with no flowers and a lot of 'water shoots'. I took out a couple of full branches rather than hacking at branch ends seemed to suit it better.

    Hope this helps


  • chickychicky Posts: 10,394

    Many thanks everyone - I am pleased that I will get to enjoy the flowers this spring (frost permitting).  Will make a note to get to work on it in April/May.

  • Tropical SamTropical Sam Posts: 1,488

    This is refreshing - normally when someone asks about pruning Magnolia all the comments are never do it! Totally agree with the above. You will have less flowers next yesr but the whole shrib will be smaller.

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