Soil types for magnolia

magnolia in bloom image by Marzanna Syncerz from

The magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) is an evergreen tree native to North America. This tree grows to 24 m (80 feet) tall and 12 m (40 feet) wide and grows in the UK. This tree is moderately drought resistant and enjoys clay, loam and sandy soils. No matter which type of soil the magnolia tree grows in, the tree requires plenty of space to spread its far-reaching roots.

Moist vs. dry soil

When planted in moist, well-drained soils, this plant can survive in hot, sunny conditions. In fact, they prefer hot climates because the heat aids flowering. When planted in poor or dry soils, this tree remains moderately drought tolerant. For any type of soil, the magnolia tree requires full sun or partial shade. Younger magnolia trees are more tolerant of shade than older trees. Mature magnolias prefer direct sunlight. Magnolia trees prefer to live in a climate where there is an annual rainfall of 100 to 125 cm (40 to 50 inches).

Acidic vs. basic soil

Acidic soils are the best options for the magnolia tree, but this tolerant tree can also be planted in basic soils, as long as the climate is not extremely hot -- regularly 37.8 degrees C (100 degrees F) or more. Hot and dry soils are not appropriate for magnolia trees because these soils are too alkaline.

Ample soil

The magnolia tree has a root system that is very wide. The root system extends a distance of four times the canopy width. Because of the sprawling root system, this tree does best when it has ample space around it to spread its roots. The higher the water table of the location, the more shallow the roots spread.

Soil orders and elevations

The magnolia grows successfully in soils in the orders of Spodosols, Alfisols, Vertisols and Ultisols. It prefers to live at an elevation of less than 60 m (200 feet), and thrives in Southern, coastal and swamp locations. The magnolia tree has been known to grow in elevations of 90 to 120 m (300 to 400 feet).

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