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Q: Tree moving ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Tree moving
Category: Family and Home > Gardening
Asked by: jmhines123-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 28 Oct 2003 07:28 PST
Expires: 27 Nov 2003 07:28 PST
Question ID: 270408
I have a 20 year old Star Magnolia that needs to be moved to make way
for an addition to my home.  However, the ideal new location for the
tree will not be determined until the spring.  Can the Magnolia be
pulled and temporarily parked or planted until spring and then planted
in its ultimate location?  Is this risky?
Subject: Re: Tree moving
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 28 Oct 2003 12:18 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi jmhines123,

The Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata - M stellata) is a beautiful
tree.  :)

Let me draw your attention to the disclaimer at the bottom of this
page.  I am not an expert!  And the bottom line is:  There is risk in
moving ANY tree, and it's technically impossible to tell you yes it
will be ok, or no it won't.

With that said,

You'll need to consult with a nursery in your geographic area. 
Certain geographic areas, where the Magnolia grows without any
problems such as east of the Mississippi River (and the SouthEast) the
tree grows commonly.  If the tree is 20 years old, I am assuming
you're in a zone where the tree grows well, and there's always the
possiblity of doing a successful transplant.

In addition there are several magnolia species that grow well in
northern regions of the country - such as the star magnolia (Magnolia

After you consult with a nursery, then call a tree moving company in
your area and discuss the pros/cons, and any pertinent details such as
pricing, storing, relocation.

One thing you'll have to expect, if the tree survives - is less
flowering for the first and maybe second season.  In fact, you might
see no flowering for quite some time due to the transplanting stress.

I hope the information I've provided will be of help to you.  Please
remember no one can guarantee you what the results will be if you
transplant.  Also keep in mind, the more you transplant the more
stress on the tree.  I realize you cannot determine the final
destination for your tree at this time, however the ideal solution
with a best case scenario would be to do one move, and even then there
is risk involved.  But it has been done, and it can be done.  They are
quite hardy.

As stated at the following site on Use and Management:

"Star Magnolia is intolerant of root competition or dryness,and plants
grow slowly, perhaps one foot per year. Plant in the full sun in a
rich, porous and slightly acid soil. It is hard to transplant
successfully and in the north should be moved balled and burlapped
when actively growing. In USDA hardiness zones 7 and 8, transplant in
late winter while the plants are still dormant or plant from
containers at any time."


Root information:

General Information on Magnolias

"Magnolia roots tend to girdle (circle the trunk or root ball). Cut
any circling roots, especially if located at the top of the root ball
or close to the trunk. The root system spreads wider than most trees.
For this reason, transplanting magnolias is difficult, as so much of
the root system is lost. Transplant field-grown trees in late winter
or early spring."


General tips on Magnolia trees and shrubs


"One of the keys to success is to allow for the ultimate size of the
magnolia, even if this means using temporary shrubs or plantings
around it. Magnolias resent disturbance and do not transplant easily.
Allow about 6.0m around the larger magnolias, less for narrower and
smaller M. stellata.

Select a site protected from wind and offers either light shade or sun
(magnolias in full shade can become scraggly and flower sparsely).
Place deciduous, spring-flowering magnolias where the sun will not
cause buds to open prematurely, risking frost damage.

Magnolias prefer a well-drained, good garden loam that is rich in
organic matter, compost or leafmould, much like their forest home.
Plant when dormant to reduce the risk of the plant sulking!

A planting hole more than twice the width of the root ball is
required. Do not 'bury' the plant but keep it at the same level as
indicated by the soil mark on the main stem. Magnolias are surface
feeders and planting too deeply will not make for a happy plant.

Stake new plants to help them to establish, removing the stake after
one year. Mulch to conserve moisture, leaving the stem itself clear to
avoid collar rot. A little 'NPK' fertiliser may provide a good start,
but good irrigation for the first growing season is more important.

Avoid damaging the roots when working nearby, as this can easily set
the magnolia back and can sometimes be fatal.

Mulch magnolias each spring to conserve moisture and add needed
nutrients, again take care to avoid collar rot.

Pruning is not necessary, although you can prune to reduce the size of
your magnolia. Pruning removes flowering wood, reducing flowering the
following season."


"Magnolias are largely disease- and pest-resistant, and thrive in full
sun to part shade. They prefer good drainage (although M. grandiflora
is more tolerant of heavy soil) and regular watering, and appreciate
plenty of compost and manure. The best time to transplant is early in
the spring just as new growth begins, but magnolias prefer not to be
moved once established. And be aware that even the smaller magnolias
can grow startlingly large. Years ago I was amazed to see the heft and
height of a majestic star magnolia at the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden in
Shoreline, and I came home and moved my young tree to a roomier


"The magnolia is multi-stemmed and little pruning is required unless
to remove damaged limbs or to shape, something that should be done
during the summer months when the plant is still young. Magnolias are
also susceptible to transplant shock, so plan their location well."


The beauty of a magnolia tree is a magnificent addition to any yard

"Some blooms measure over four inches in diameter. Plant stars where
you can enjoy them up close to appreciate their unique detail. Like
the saucers, stars bloom about the same time, before the leaves
appear. In flower they are fabulous under the light of a full moon.

Even though it appears delicate and finicky, "Magnolia stellata" is
tough as nails."


"Coming down in size once again is the star magnolia (Magnolia
stellata). Star magnolia is the first magnolia to bloom. As a result,
the flowers are occasionally zapped by late spring frosts. Don't cross
the star magnolia off your list because its white flowers are
occasionally destroyed. In 3 or 4 years out of 5, it's fantastic!
Flowers are smaller than those of saucer magnolia but the petal count
is much greater. Mature heights range from 12 to 20 feet with spreads
around 12 feet. It is also one of the hardiest magnolias."


"Magnolias are considered one of the oldest families of flowering
plants. They have survived on earth for thousands of years."


Magnificent Magnolias

"Another deciduous magnolia was discovered in Japan by explorer
Richard Oldham in 1862. It was growing wild on the slopes of Mount
Fujiyama. Named star magnolia for its snow-white, starshaped blossoms,
they are quite fragrant with long ribbon- like petals. Some blooms
measure over four inches in diameter. Plant stars where you can enjoy
them up close to appreciate their unique detail. Like the saucers,
stars bloom about the same time, before the leaves appear. In flower
they are fabulous under the light of a full moon.

Even though it appears delicate and finicky, "Magnolia stellata" is
tough as nails. It is hardy to Zone 5 and not as particular about soil
provided it is not alkaline. The variety "Royal Star" is considered an
improvement over the species with larger blooms and showy pink buds.
Pink flowering varieties are less common but include "Galaxy,"
"Rubra," and "Waterlily." With both the saucers and stars, success is
all about location, location, location. Eastern exposures are the best
in most climates because they'll be protected from hot afternoon sun,
which tends to burn the foliage.

They also appreciate protection from the wind, which can burn back
leaves in the warm months and scald the buds in winter. If you wish to
prune your magnolias to shape or limit size, do so right after they
bloom. This allows the plants to produce new growth and buds for next
year's show. Spring blooming magnolias are sold in different forms.
The star is often sold in the standard form with a single straight

The saucers are frequently the multi-trunk forms, which produce a
wider canopy and more blossoms. If you're looking for dramatic
highlights for your morning garden, don't overlook these Asian

If you get the location right in soils on the acid side, they'll be
easy to care for in all kinds of weather. And even in the very first
year, you'll discover why so many gardeners have fallen in love with
their Asian saucers and stars.

Maureen Gilmer is a horticulturist and host of "Weekend Gardener" on
DIYDo It Yourself Network.

Email her at"



"The magnolia family is very ancient with fossil remains dating
between 36 and 58 million years ago. The unusual distribution of
existing magnolia species resulted when Ice Age glaciers destroyed
ancient European forests but not those in Asia or America.
Surviving magnolia species represent some of the more primitive
flowering plants. Magnolia flowers do not have true petals and sepals
but are composed of petal-like tepals. Flowers do not produce true
nectar, but attract pollinating beetles with fragrant, sugary
secretions. Magnolia flowers are primarily pollinated by beetles of
the Nitidulidae family because magnolias evolved long before bees and
other flying pollinators.

Magnolias were well known and widely used by ancient cultures in Asia
and the Americas. The beautiful flowering tree, Magnolia denudata, was
known as "Yu-lan" ("Jade Orchid") to the ancient Chinese and has been
cultivated since the 7th century. The Japanese have grown Magnolia
stellata for centuries as flowering pot plants called "Shidekobushi"
("Zigzag-petalled Kobushi Magnolia"). The Aztecs knew Magnolia
macrophylla var. dealbata as "Eloxochitl" ("Flower with Green Husk").

Europeans were not familiar with magnolias and they first discovered
them while exploring the Americas. In 1688, Sweet Bay (Magnolia
virginiana) was the first magnolia introduced to Europe. Unaware of
Amerindian or Asian names for the species, 18th century taxonomists
named magnolias to commemorate Pierre Magnol, a 17th century French


Google search:

transplant tree Star Magnolia 
Magnolia stellata
M stellata
risk transplanting grown Magnolia

Best regards and Good Luck to you!  :)
jmhines123-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Tree moving
From: tlspiegel-ga on 03 Nov 2003 17:44 PST

Thank you for the nice rating.  :)

Best regards,

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