How Tall Do Magnolia Trees Grow? A Guide to Growing & Caring for Magnolias

We explore the world of magnolia trees, including how tall do magnolia trees grow, understanding their sizes and growth rates, planting, caring, and selecting the right one for your garden.






Magnolia trees are heralded for their enchanting blooms and exquisite fragrances, making them a popular choice for gardens. But did you know that magnolias come in various sizes and growth rates? With numerous species to choose from, it’s essential to find the perfect fit for your garden’s space, climate, and aesthetic preferences. In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of magnolia trees, including how tall do magnolia trees grow, understanding their sizes and growth rates, planting, caring, and selecting the right one for your garden. Check more out at Gardeners Dream.



 Key Takeaways

  • • This article provides an overview of the range and size of magnolia trees, allowing for informed selection.
  • • Proper care is essential to ensure growth, health and longevity of magnolia trees.
  • • Climate considerations, aesthetic preferences and proactive steps are important when selecting a magnolia tree for your garden.




Understanding Magnolia Tree Sizes

Magnolia trees are available in large, medium, and small sizes, making them suitable for various garden spaces. These beautiful flowering trees can be deciduous or evergreen, with deciduous magnolias and most magnolias, including the evergreen magnolia, displaying impressive white or pink flowers that emerge very early in spring.
We will now examine the diverse sizes of magnolia trees to assist you in finding the right one for your garden.


Large Magnolia Trees

Large magnolia trees, such as the Southern magnolia, can reach heights of up to 80 feet, making them ideal for spacious gardens. The Southern magnolia, a substantial evergreen tree, requires ample space and is known for its large, leathery leaves and impressive white flowers from mid-summer to early autumn. Another example of a large magnolia tree is the Cucumber Tree Magnolia, which boasts large glossy leaves and is the most cold-hardy of the magnolias. Its greenish, tulip-shaped flowers are less ostentatious than those of the Southern magnolia, measuring only about 2 inches across.

Large magnolia trees thrive best in part shade, as direct sunlight can cause the leaves to scorch. If you opt for a large magnolia tree, take into account its potential height and spread, guaranteeing it has ample space for growth.



Medium-Sized Magnolia Trees

Medium-sized magnolia trees, like the Saucer magnolia, grow up to 40 feet tall, making them perfect for moderately-sized gardens. The Saucer magnolia is a hybrid of the lily magnolia and the Yulan magnolia, displaying white flowers with pink interiors. Just like their larger counterparts, keep in mind the potential height and spread of medium-sized magnolia trees to provide sufficient room for their development.

To accommodate these trees’ moderate growth rate, ample care is required, including proper watering and fertilizing practices. With time and attention, these medium-sized magnolia trees can become a stunning focal point in your garden.


Small Magnolia Trees

Small magnolia trees, such as Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia) and Lily magnolias, reach heights of up to 12 feet, making them an ideal choice for compact gardens or container planting. The Star Magnolia is a deciduous tree or shrub that varies in size. It is known for its star-shaped white flowers that bloom in late winter or early spring. The Lily Magnolia, on the other hand, features reddish-purple or pink flowers, adding a splash of color to your garden.

In choosing a small tree, such as a small magnolia tree for your garden, take into account its growth pace and upkeep needs. To plant a magnolia tree, be aware that these trees, as well as magnolia shrubs, may need more frequent watering and pruning to maintain their shape and health, but with proper care, they can be a charming addition to any garden space.



Growth Rates and Time to Maturity

Just as magnolia trees vary in size, they also exhibit different growth rates. Some species, like the Southern magnolia, grow rapidly, while others have moderate or slow growth rates. Grasping these growth rates and the maturity timeline for magnolia trees is crucial for their correct care and upkeep.

We will investigate different growth rates of magnolia trees to support your decision-making when choosing the ideal tree for your garden.


Fast-Growing Magnolia Trees

Fast-growing magnolia trees, such as the Southern magnolia, can reach maturity in about 30 years with proper care. These trees are known to grow up to two feet or more per year under optimal conditions. To support their rapid growth, it’s essential to provide these trees with the appropriate care, including regular watering, especially during dry spells or when newly planted magnolias are establishing, and ensuring they are planted in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.

Full sun is ideal for fast-growing magnolias like the saucer magnolia, although they are tolerant of a wide range of pH levels. By providing the proper care and attention, these fast-growing magnolia trees can quickly become a stunning addition to your garden.


Moderate-Growing Magnolia Trees

Moderate-growing magnolia trees, such as the Saucer magnolia, take longer to reach maturity but still provide a beautiful display in the garden. These trees have a moderate growth rate and may require more care than their fast-growing counterparts. To ensure optimal growth, it’s essential to provide these trees with proper care, including regular watering, especially during dry spells or when newly planted, and ensuring they are planted in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.

Like their fast-growing counterparts, moderate-growing magnolia trees also thrive in full sun and can adapt to a wide range of pH levels. With the appropriate care and attention, these moderate-growing magnolia trees can create a splendid focal point in your garden that lasts for years to come.


Slow-Growing Magnolia Trees

Slow-growing magnolia trees, like the Kobus magnolia, require patience but offer a stunning, long-lasting presence in the garden. Estimated to take 10-20 years to reach maturity, these trees require specific care to ensure their healthy growth and development. This care includes:


  • • Watering regularly, particularly during the first few years after planting
  • • Ensuring the soil is well-drained and not excessively wet or poorly drained
  • • Utilizing slightly acidic soil for planting


In addition, incorporating organic matter or compost into the soil can help improve its quality, while supplementing with coffee grounds can increase acidity if needed. By providing the proper care and attention, these slow-growing magnolia trees can become a cherished, long-lasting addition to your garden.



Planting and Caring for Magnolia Trees

Proper planting and care for magnolia trees involve understanding their soil, sunlight, watering, fertilizing, and pruning requirements.

In this section, we’ll discuss necessary care aspects of magnolia trees for their long-term health and survival.


Soil and Sunlight Requirements

Magnolia trees, or as some might say, magnolias prefer slightly acidic, well-drained soil for optimal growth, and generally do not perform well in alkaline soil. They can thrive in clay, loam, or sand soils, but generally do not perform well in wet or poorly-drained soils. If your soil is not suitable for magnolia trees, consider growing smaller varieties in pots to ensure they receive the proper soil conditions.

In terms of sunlight, magnolia trees typically require full sun to light shade, with protection from strong winds. Finding an appropriate spot for your magnolia is important. Look for a sheltered area that does not sit in a frost pocket, as frost can cause irreparable damage to the flowers of some species. By ensuring proper soil and sunlight conditions, you set a robust foundation for your magnolia tree’s growth and splendid blossoms.


Watering and Fertilizing

Regular watering and fertilizing are essential for optimal growth, especially during the first few years after planting. Here are some guidelines for watering newly planted magnolia trees:


  • • Water two to three times per week for the first three to six months.
  • • Water weekly for the remainder of the growing season.
  • • Apply 2-3 gallons (3.0-4.4 liters per cm) of water per inch of trunk diameter for newly planted magnolia trees.


When it comes to fertilizing, a spring application of slow-release fertilizer is recommended for the best growth. An annual feeding of rhododendron food in spring can also provide your magnolia with a beneficial boost. Regular watering and fertilizing will contribute to the strong and healthy development of your magnolia tree.


Pruning and Maintenance

Pruning and maintenance of magnolia trees are minimal, but necessary to maintain their shape and health. It’s advised to lightly prune magnolia trees between mid-summer and early autumn to remove any dead or damaged branches. This not only helps maintain the tree’s overall health but also promotes better air circulation, which can help prevent fungal diseases.

In addition to pruning, it’s essential to monitor your magnolia tree for pests and diseases, such as scale insects, aphids, and fungal infections. Proper care and treatment, including pruning, spraying fungicide, and removing damaged branches, can help manage these issues and ensure the health and longevity of your magnolia tree.



Choosing the Right Magnolia Tree for Your Garden

With so many magnolia tree varieties to choose from, it’s important to consider factors such as climate, available space, and personal aesthetic preferences when selecting the perfect tree for your garden. We will discuss these considerations to guide you towards an informed decision.


Climate Considerations

When choosing a magnolia tree, it’s essential to consider the hardiness zones and frost tolerance of different species. Magnolia trees can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 10, depending on the species. Some magnolia varieties, like the Star magnolia, are particularly susceptible to frost damage and may require protection in colder climates. On the other hand, there are hardy magnolia species that can withstand frost and thrive in colder regions.

Understanding each magnolia species’ specific hardiness zone and frost tolerance level allows you to choose a tree that fits your garden’s climate perfectly. This ensures that your chosen magnolia tree will be well-suited to your local weather conditions and provide years of enjoyment.


Aesthetic Preferences

In addition to climate considerations, your personal aesthetic preferences play a significant role in selecting the perfect magnolia tree for your garden. Magnolia trees produce flowers in various colors, such as:


  • • white
  • • pink
  • • purple
  • • yellow


This allows you to choose a tree that complements your garden’s color scheme.

Fragrances are another important aspect to consider when selecting a magnolia tree. Some magnolia species, like Magnolia grandiflora, produce a distinct evergreen fragrance, while others, such as Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’, offer a sweet floral punch with a citrusy edge. By considering your preferences in flower colors, shapes, and fragrances, you can choose a magnolia tree that not only thrives in your garden but also reflects your personal style.



Common Magnolia Tree Problems and Solutions

Magnolia trees can encounter various problems, such as pests, diseases, and environmental challenges. Addressing these issues will help to maintain your magnolia tree’s health and longevity.

We will discuss typical magnolia tree problems and their solutions in this section.


Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases affecting magnolia trees include scale insects, aphids, and fungal infections. To manage these issues, proper care and treatment are essential, such as pruning to remove any diseased or damaged branches, preventive sprays of fungicide, and careful pruning to improve air circulation. By addressing these problems promptly and maintaining a healthy environment for your tree, you can minimize the impact of pests and diseases on your magnolia tree.

In addition to pests and diseases, magnolia trees can also suffer from environmental challenges such as frost damage, drought, and poor soil conditions. Proper planting, watering, and soil amendments can help mitigate these challenges and ensure your magnolia tree thrives in your garden.


Environmental Challenges

Environmental challenges, such as frost damage, drought, and poor soil conditions, can be detrimental to the health and growth of magnolia trees. To protect magnolia trees from frost damage, it’s important to cover them with sheets, blankets, or a commercial frost cloth during severe freezing weather. Watering the tree and the surrounding ground during heavy frost can also provide insulation from freezing temperatures.

Droughts can have adverse effects on magnolia trees, impeding their growth and causing leaf drop. To ensure the tree’s health and growth, follow these tips:


  • • Regularly water the tree, especially during dry spells or when newly planted.
  • • Incorporate organic matter or compost into the soil to improve its quality.
  • • Supplement with coffee grounds to increase acidity if needed.


By following these steps, you can help your magnolia tree thrive even during drought conditions.
Addressing these environmental challenges will help keep your magnolia tree healthy and vibrant for many years.




Magnolia trees are a beautiful addition to any garden, but understanding their various sizes, growth rates, and care requirements is essential for their success. By considering factors such as climate, available space, and aesthetic preferences, you can choose the perfect magnolia tree for your garden. With proper planting, watering, fertilizing, and maintenance, your magnolia tree will thrive and bring you years of enjoyment. So why wait? Bring the beauty and fragrance of magnolia trees into your garden and experience the wonder of these enchanting plants.



Frequently Asked Questions

Can you keep a magnolia tree small?

Yes, you can keep a magnolia tree small by pruning a few branches at a time over a few years and mulching in spring with manure, composted pine bark or leaf mould.


Can magnolia trees be planted close to a house?

Because of their large, flexible roots that grow horizontally and close to the soil surface, it is not advisable to plant magnolia trees too close to a house as it can lead to root damage.


Can I plant a magnolia tree in a small garden?

Yes, you can plant a Japanese Magnolia stellata in a small garden. It produces showy white flowers that resemble a star and it's also slightly fragrant.


How tall do magnolias grow?

Magnolia trees can reach a wide range of heights, with smaller varieties standing at 1-2m (3-6ft) tall and larger varieties reaching up to 20ft or even 60ft. It is important to consider the space available when selecting a magnolia tree to ensure it meets the necessary requirements.


What is the ideal soil and sunlight condition for magnolia trees?

Magnolia trees thrive in slightly acidic, well-drained soil and full sun to light shade with some wind protection.


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