C’mon, you know what movie that’s from…right? Leave your guess in the comment section!
Anyhow, that quote best describes the issue Tom and I were having with our landscaping. We are attempting to make the perimeter of our house more edible.
For this dream to become a reality a lovely Jane magnolia tree needed to be moved.
Talk about mission impossible (another movie reference!) The magnolia tree does not like to be uprooted and moved.
But we needed the spot for a blueberry bush. Besides, when originally planted, we failed to consider the 8-10 spread the Jane magnolia tree requires.
And so, we read and researched the best way to transplant this gorgeous tree. The ideal time to transplant a deciduous magnolia tree or shrub is in the fall.
Keep in mind that root pruning must be done well in advance of transplanting.
So that’s where we will start you off today.
Then we’ll tell you the easy peasy steps to successfully transplant a magnolia tree without killing it.
How-to prune the roots of a magnolia tree
- As your killer instinct has already told you, your first step is to water the soil thoroughly around the magnolia tree. It’s got to be softened up to make it easier to dig up to keep those feeder roots in tact.
- Tie up the lower tree branches with a light cord to protect them and the leaves from falling off.
- Mark the area to be pruned. Allow for 10-12 inches for each 1-inch diameter of magnolia tree trunk.
- Using a flat spade, cut a trench around the tree trunk. Use loppers to cut those impossible larger roots.
- Dig the trench down to about a 2-foot depth. The general idea is to reach as many lateral roots as possible.
- Mission complete? Now replace soil with good topsoil around the tree for added benefits.
- Again, water, water, water. Remove any protective covering or the cord you used to transplant
How-to transplant a magnolia tree
- Water soil and surrounding soil thoroughly to soften the soil, reduce stress to the tree, and to help keep the root ball in tact.
- Dig a hole for the new home of the magnolia tree 2 to 3 times as wide as the root ball while keeping the depth the same. Don’t plant it any deeper than the original soil line!
- Take your hose and fill the hole with water prior to transplanting.
- Using twine for a bush or a strong cord for bigger trees and tie off the branches of the bush/tree you are moving to protect them.
- Mark the soil 4 to 6 inches beyond where the roots were previously pruned.
- Dig around the tree, going outside the mark so you don’t mistakenly snip of extra roots. Dig deeper and cut out lateral roots with loppers.
- Dig underneath the magnolia tree root ball.
- Place a tarp next to the root ball to drag the tree to its new location. Tilt the root ball onto the tarp. Get a helper if possible to lift from underneath the plant. Do not tilt by the trunk!
- Position the tree in its new hole. Make sure it’s straight, folks! And like a Christmas tree, make sure the most visible angle is your best one. Backfill with subsoil and topsoil.
- Water deeply. And make sure it consistently gets water in the coming weeks to months.
- Add 3 inches of organic mulch/compost around the magnolia tree.
- A taller tree may need to be staked!
- Do not fertilize until after the first year!
- Keep in mind that a magnolia tree will take several years to recover from the shock of being transplanted. It may not flower or to appear to grow much during this time. Give it time to bounce back.
- The two most important things in transplanting are planting depth and water. Make sure that the new hole for your tree is the same depth as the old one.
- Water deeply and thoroughly!
We have a beautiful 30ft Southern Magnolia, we’ve recently had an ice storm and many large branches have broken off. Beyond pruning the necessary branches what needs to be done? I can’t find any relevant information.
Brenda Williamson says
I love beautiful Magnolia trees. I can’t plant trees because my yard is my landlord’s.
Juliet Murphy says
Some dwarf varieties can be grown in large containers that you could take with you if you move.
Donna L Holder says
these are so beautiful
Liz Kilcher says
a lot of work!!!
Donna L Holder says
great info. thank you
Carrie Trail says
I am needing a lot of help. Moved into a old country house in the city limits and have a sunny hill in the back that needs flowers. It has some maybe 8-10″ rocks, so was thinking ground cover to bloom all year and hardy for WI winters
Sandi McGinnis says
My very favorite tree!Nothing says summer like the sweet smell of the Magnolia Blossom. Thanks for the info and tips!
Bill Toutz says
Thank you for the hints.
Shelly Miller says
John Gusswein says
I love magnolias
cylina williams says
This is a very pretty tree
Bradley Marquis says
Betsy Pauzauskie says
Apollo 13 was the movie; and, I adore Tom Hanks! Great job with moving Magnolia Jane. And, I’ve used your technique and it worked. However, I only moved a flowering quince bush. This post is timely for me, as I’ve been putting off moving a gardenia bush & feel motivated now to take on that project! Thank you for continually inspiring me; and, sharing your knowledge and tips for success!
Tony Platz says
Loved them when I lived in the South but do not know if they would do well hrtr in Michigan .
Deborah Waddell says
Apollo 13 is the movie the quote comes from. Would love to have a magnolia tree but live in a rental community and restriction apply.
Brian M. Teater says
Great info and tips! Thank you!
Glenn Kasprzak says
Thanks for the tips.
Calshondra Williams says
My grandparents live in Magnolia, AR and the smell of the Magnolia trees is amazing.
That sounds amazing I’ll never thought of a whole community that had Magnolias…. Magic!!!
Janis C says
Thanks for the tips!
Great to know. Assume it would work well with transplanting other plants as well.
Terri David says
Good information for transplanting in general. Thank you.
Brittany Gilley says
I long for a piece of land of my own where I can plant magnolias
Lori Byrd says
One of my favorites. So pretty.
Crystal Abel says
I have a lovely magnolia tree that is in my yard. They are so pretty!