When can I trim my magnolia tree?

Written by ashley mackenzie
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When can I trim my magnolia tree?
Trimming magnolias at safe times of the year encourages flowering and health. (magnolia image by Edsweb from Fotolia.com)

As deciduous trees, magnolia trees are sensitive to seasonal trims. Pruning at the wrong time of year -- or even in the wrong weather -- can encourage diseases to spread or destroy young buds, resulting in fewer flowers. Meanwhile, a carefully timed trim optimises magnolias' health and appearance. Though most trees prefer trims in late winter, magnolias' blooming style makes other times of year safer for pruning.

Seasonal timing

The safest time to trim magnolias trees is in late spring or midsummer, just after the flowering period. This gives pruning wounds a chance to heal during the growing season, while the weather is still warm and accommodating.

Poor timing

Pruning at the wrong time of year puts magnolias' health at risk. Because magnolias bloom on old wood in the spring, trimming them in late winter risks cutting off wood that is about to produce flowers. This may minimise flowering for the year. Pruning during the blooming period in spring can destroy trees' food storage and cause dwarfing. Meanwhile, autumn trims leave new growths with little time to harden off before winter weather threatens to destroy them.


The only time gardeners should hurry to trim magnolia trees is when they suffer from diseased or broken branches. Immediate removal of the affected limbs helps prevent the spread of disease or further problems. Before gardeners start pruning, however, they should wait for dry weather; this minimises the odds of tools becoming contaminated with disease.


Minor trims are safer for tree health than extensive pruning jobs. Gardeners can avoid major pruning by performing light trims at least once a year. Although magnolias rarely require pruning, gardeners may choose to maximise next year's flowering by cutting back stems after flowering; this will inspire a host of new flower buds next spring.

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