There are more than 80 varieties magnolia trees, with evergreen and deciduous types available. Evergreen varieties have the benefit of keeping their foliage all year but tend to drop leaves continuously, making maintenance an ongoing chore. Deciduous magnolias drop their leaves all at once in the fall and bud in the spring. Cleanup is easier, but the tree is also bare for a period each year.
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Deciduous Magnolias In Soil
Young deciduous magnolia trees in nursery containers or with root balls surrounded in soil and wrapped in a burlap sack can be planted in the fall before the first hard frosts in northern climates. In most areas, fall planting is best performed between late August and late October. In southern climates, magnolias in nursery pots or with root balls wrapped in burlap should be planted in the fall to take advantage of the cool temperatures and high rain amounts of the mild winter.
Evergreen Magnolias In Soil
Evergreen magnolias in nursery pots or with root balls wrapped in burlap should be planted in the spring in northern climates. Evergreen trees and shrubs have the best planting success when they have a full growing season to get established before the winter frosts. Like deciduous magnolias, evergreen magnolias prefer fall planting in southern climates so the roots can get established during the mild winter before the heat of summer.
Bare Root Trees
Deciduous and evergreen magnolia trees often are sold bare root in the spring. Bare-root trees do not have soil around the roots. Instead, the trees are dug from the nursery beds and the soil is cleaned off the roots. The bare roots are then wrapped in cloth or other material to prevent them from drying out. Bare-root magnolia trees are best planted in the spring in northern climates and in the fall in southern climates.
Planting Magnolia Seeds
Magnolia seeds should be planted in the spring after a period of stratification, which is a process of chilling that stimulates germination. Magnolia seeds require three to six months packed in a moist material such as peat moss and stored at 4.44 degrees Celsius. In the spring, the seeds are soaked for one to two days and then planted in nursery beds.
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- University of Florida IFAS Extension Program: Magnolias; Gary W. Knox
- Texas A&M University Department of Horticultural Sciences: Southern Magnolia; Dr. William C. Welch
- United States National Arboretum: Magnolia Questions and Answers
- University of Nebraska Lancaster County Extension: The Best Times to Plant Trees, Shrubs and More; Don Janssen