When to prune magnolia in the UK – 4 top tips

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Magnolias are beautiful trees and shrubs, with varied coloured flowers which bloom in the spring and summer. Preferring full sunlight and moist, fertile soil, magnolias can brighten any green space.

You can plant magnolias in autumn, spring or winter and flowers crop up in spring and summer.

Often magnolias are grown against walls, with plants bought at garden centres ready for planting.

Depending on the age of the plant, pruning can vary and may not be needed at all.

So when should you prune magnolias? Read on for top tips.

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According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), magnolias “seldom” need pruning, but there are some exceptions.

The RHS explains you should prune your magnolias if –

You are shaping the trees when you plant time by “removing weak and badly placed growth and tipping back long shoots”.

The gardening experts warn heavy pruning of mature magnolias can induce watershoots or long, vertical, vigorous shoots.

So, “routine pruning is therefore usually restricted to removing deadwood and watershoots”.

Deciduous magnolias

If you are pruning to reduce the size of the RHS advises to “maintain an open, balanced crown by thinning out stems to the trunk or to a sideshoot.”

The RHS advises pruning should be done between mid-summer and early autumn.

This is because cuts bleed if pruned in late winter or early spring.

You should try and prune over several years, as this will stop the tree from getting stressed.

Any pruning needs to be done over two or three years as trees can be slow to recover.

When pruning, try and do so to a natural fork to stop leaving unsightly stubs.

Evergreen magnolias

When it comes to evergreen magnolias there are different rules for pruning.

The RHS advises “young trees need no pruning other than shortening of lengthy, young branches and removal of lower boughs, where a bare stem is desired”

When it comes to hard pruning, evergreen magnolias tolerate it if renovation or repair of storm damage is required.

To do so, the RHS writes: “Cut back to the main framework or even beyond.

“However, it is safest to spread this work over several years.”

When it comes to when you should prune, tackle free-standing trees in spring as they begin to grow and wall-trained magnolias in summer.

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