Though gardeners rarely need to worry about pruning young magnolia trees, a carefully timed trim can enhance their appearance. When diseased branches threaten a magnolia's survival, a prompt trim promotes health.
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Trimming magnolia trees at safe times of the year encourages spring blooming. A poorly timed pruning job, however, can leave them susceptible to injury, especially in autumn. This leaves new growths exposed to plunging winter temperatures and ice damage, which they may not survive.
The safest time to trim a magnolia tree is in June, July and August. Specifically, prune after flowering is over, preferably in the early summer; this keeps the seasonal blooming periods on time.
When a magnolia tree has a diseased limb, remove it immediately to prevent the disease from spreading, regardless of the time of year. Meanwhile, trimming during the flowering season in spring is dangerous, as all of the tree's energy goes to flowering and leaves little for wound closure.
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