- Prune a magnolia
- What's Up 170: Prune magnolia, books, beech, Rose Bowl
I have a friend with an overgrown Magnolia, probably 30 years old. When should you prune it, in December, or in January or just after it blooms? - L. W. -
We prune Magnolias in a winter thaw or early August. If it has to be cut back major-ly and it's vital that it not lose much bloom, then we do it right after it blooms. If we're going to be cutting it regularly to keep it smaller than its potential, August is our first choice. Whenever we cut, we want things to be DRY that day and for a day after. There's a canker that plagues Magnolia -- a fungal infection of the branches. The fungus prospers on moist surfaces so it's not good to prune when the cuts will remain wet for long periods.
Below: Pink or white Magnolias are better known than the yellows. Magnolia 'Elizabeth' (below) blooms later than the pink saucer magnolia, so it is less often touched by frost.
The pink saucer magnolias (M. soulangiana) and these hybrid yellow-blooming varieties bloom early in spring. So cuts made in winter might reduce their bloom by the number of flower buds removed in the clippings.
Magnolias that bloom later in summer, or which bloom sporadically throughout summer may have enough time between spring and bloom time to develop some flower buds on new wood. One example is sweetbay magnolia (M. virginiana, below).