We asked it to give us a new, more graceful trunk

It's cooperating!

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This magnolia had only three trunks but one of those was definitely not an assett. The others need shaping up. Our usual time to prune Magnolia is in August or winter (for why, check this) but in this case we want to take advantage of the spring growing time to perhaps net some new shoots that can be better trunks. So we prune in spring just before growth begins.

Magnolias often have multiple trunks, but too many is not pretty or healthy. Arrows mark trunks to be sawed, soon. As the trunks increase in girth, those in the middle of the clump will be squeezed out. As George E. Brown wrote in "The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers", it's "the effects of bad training in a young specimen..."

Magnolias often have multiple trunks, but too many is not pretty or healthy. Arrows mark trunks to be sawed, soon. As the trunks increase in girth, those in the middle of the clump will be squeezed out. As George E. Brown wrote in "The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers", it's "the effects of bad training in a young specimen..."

Here it is on April 4, just before pruning to remove an awkward trunk and low branches.

Here it is on April 4, just before pruning to remove an awkward trunk and low branches.

5 months later, you see it's offering new shoots.

5 months later, you see it's offering new shoots.

We'll allow one to remain. (And we'll remove the weed mulberry tree! Arrows point to magnolia shoots on the right, mulberry on the left.)

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What's Up 170: Prune magnolia, books, beech, Rose Bowl