How To Trim A Magnolia Tree

Once a magnolia matures, they will grow wide and tall and can have the possibility of dead branches or large branches appearing. Should these be in the wrong area, they can pose a health risk to your family and property.

Once there are any signs of disease, it is time to think about trimming magnolia trees to reduce the risk of harm from a falling branch.

Besides this, it can also help your magnolia retain its health and stave off any more disease-yielding growth in its branches.

In our guide, you can find that magnolias don’t heal like other trees. So, you can learn all you need about how to prune a magnolia tree. Also, how to make sure it is in the best of health, and it recovers properly after doing so. (Learn How Long Does it Take to Grow a Tree)

Tips on Trimming Magnolia Trees

Can You Top a Magnolia Tree?

In most cases, you don’t need to prune magnolia tree because they don’t recover and can sustain fatal wounds when they are mature.

In most cases, you can train younger specimens as they grow. Besides, this trimming when the tree is young helps improve growth and lots more blooms. It is the last resort when you need to cut back or prune mature magnolia trees. (Read How To Plant A Magnolia Tree)

Can You Cut A Magnolia Hard Back?

You can find subtle differences between deciduous and evergreen magnolias. Here’s what you need to know about pruning.

Deciduous magnolia trees

  • Pruning is not often required apart from the following:
  • Shape trees during the planting time. Remove weak or badly positioned growth and tip back any long shoots.
  • If you carry out any heavy pruning of your mature magnolias, it can lead to long shoots that grow vertically (watershoots), you often see these diebacks.
  • Because of this, your routine pruning will be limited to removing such watershoots and any deadwood.
  • Should you be pruning to limit size, aim for a balanced crown. Open and thin out stems to the trunk or side shoot. Such pruning should be carried out over a few years to avoid stress in the same year.
  • Prune branches back to the trunk for natural forks and to avoid unsightly stubs on your magnolia trees.
  • Any cuts you make can bleed when carried out during the late winter or early spring. The best time to prune is mid-summer to early autumn.

Evergreen magnolia trees

  • There is no need to prune young trees aside from shortening any long, young branches. Also, to remove any lower boughs, where you desire a bare stem.
  • If you are hard pruning, this can be tolerated when you need to carry out renovation or storm damage repair. You may need to cut back to the main framework or more. Like other cuts, you are best to spread this over several year’ s.
  • Besides this, prune any one free-standing tree during the spring once any new growth begins. Do this in the summer for well-trained specimens.

Wall-training Magnolia Trees


  • Magnolia grandiflora or Southern Magnolia, is an evergreen and grows and flowers if trained well against sunny walls.
  • Wall-trained magnolias will be trained by tying to a wire or another type of support. You should tie shoots at 45-degrees, and then in the following season, you can lower them to a horizontal position.
  • Remove shoots growing toward the wall while shortening outward-growing to one or two leaves with regular pruning.
  • If outward-growing shoots bear flower buds, delay pruning until right after flowering

How Do You Prune Overgrown Star Magnolia?

Star magnolias (Magnolia stellata) are the earliest to bloom, and their flowers outlast many other trees. Carefully planning can maximize the flowering of white or pink blooms in season. (Read How Far To Plant Fruit Trees Apart)

  • Wait until the dormant season in early spring, such as February but before March as blossoming begins.
  • Cut lower branches back to the trunk to keep them off the ground.
  • Cut old blooms after growth, and don’t remove the growing points below the blossoms.
  • Remove several branches as needed to thin interior growth. Prune lightly to retain shape and health.

When Should Magnolia Trees be Pruned?

When to trim magnolia tree ought to be done when necessary; it may need to be spread over a two to three year period at a minimum. For deciduous magnolia trees, the aim is removing dead branches and water shoots. (Read Cheap Ways To Block Neighbors View)

  • Pruning in late winter or early spring needs avoiding, as cuts bleed sap, attracting bugs and disease to the branches.
  • Evergreen only need pruning to shorten a young branch and remove lower ones.
  • The best time for pruning a branch is spring for freestanding as they begin new growth, and summer for wall trained trees.

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How To Trim A Magnolia Tree

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