How to Prune Magnolia Grandiflora
The Evergreen Magnolias including Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ , ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Kay Parris’ all benefit from pruning at the right time of year.
If you were to visit a propagation nursery and could see how hard they cut back evergreen grandiflora magnolias for cuttings you would have the confidence to prune your own.
Pruning evergreen magnolias is carried out for three reasons, to encourage a bushy habit to maintain size and shape and to rejuvenate older plants.
Types of Pruning For Evergreen Magnolias
- Tip pruning
This is the method widely recommended and the best time to do this is from spring to early summer when the plant is in active growth. This simply means that the tips of each stem are pinched out.
- Pruning To Shape
Shaping is simple, its about maintaining the plant at a desired height and width by cutting back each year.
- Hard Pruning:
Evergreen magnolias also take well to hard pruning and can be cut back to around 1m in height. This sounds a little brutal, however you will find that they actually respond well to this treatment.
With all Magnolia grandiflora types including Little Gem, that are either getting to large or a little open in growth lower down they can be hard pruned.
The best time to hard prune is in late winter to early months of spring, in frost prone areas wait until after the danger of frosts has past, so the new growth is not damaged.
Use a pruning saw or chain saw, prune the main trunks or stems down to around 1m (3ft) from the ground and then prune back any side shoots to a node.This will promote a huge flush of new growth and give a much tighter or denser foliage.
Evergreen magnolias slow in growth once they reach around 3m high, however if they are cut back to 1m they can put on as much as 1m new growth in a year. This makes for a bushy tree with lots of new healthy foliage.
Although Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ , ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Kay Parris’ are smaller growing cultivars they do benefit from pruning
- Tip prune Magnolia grandiflora from spring to summer.
- Shape after flowering in spring, although if you don’t mind losing the flowers it can be done earlier.
- Hard prune older bushes back to 1m high in spring to rejuvenate and maintain a good height.
Evergreen Magnolia Pruning – Care After Pruning
After pruning is a great time to fertilize and mulch.
- Water well with a liquid seaweed fertilizer.
- Apply some slow release fertilizer and mulch to maintain that cool root run.
- Fertiliser should be spread from around 30 cm from the stem out to 1m or so. This is where all the feeder roots are, not up against the stem.
Mulch well and water in well.