Transplanting a magnolia

Discussion in 'Magnoliaceae' started by Unregistered, Apr 25, 2004.

  1. Martyn


    I have a Magnolia in my garden which measures approximately 12-14' high. Unfortunately I need to remove the tree as I am building a garage in the same location. My question is; would it be possible to dig around the roots of the tree and attempt to relocate it? Would this process be possible? If yes, what would be involved? Any information would be greatly appreciated as I am not green fingered and I would love to save this lovely tree!


    South Yorks
  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Vancouver, Canada
    Moving a large magnolia is not impossible, but the kind of magnolia, timing and transplanting technique are all important to the success of the operation. In general, deciduous magnolias are probably best moved in the autumn (following leaf drop), as their roots will recover more easily when transplanted into warm soil (spring transplanting may cause a tree to go back). Again, this depends greatly on the kind of magnolia involved; for example, the common saucer magnolia, M. x soulangeana is easily moved at almost any time, while cold-sensitive species such as M. campbellii are more problematic. The chances of success are much diminished if plants are dug up while in active growth.

    It is often recommended to root prune before digging, and I know gardeners who have had good success with this method with very large plants. This process needs to be started some time before the plant is ultimately dug, however, to allow for the production of "fibrous" roots. In root pruning, long roots are severed to promote the proliferation of lateral roots behind the cut (in some plants, these appear to be more fibrous than the long, extension type roots). The more lateral roots, the better the plant is able to hold together a root ball, and the fewer roots will be cut off when the plant is finally dug up.

    Having said all of this, it is probably prudent to employ a local professional, or at least someone familiar with moving trees, to advise you.

    Good luck.

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