Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 11, 2007

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplanting Magnolia grandiflora
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We just moved to Plano TX and there's a magnolia tree planted between our house and the driveway. (The tree is 7ft tall and it's about 7ft from the side of house and 4ft from the driveway) I always thought Magnolias got to be a pretty good size. Is that location okay for it? Do you think it would stand a chance if we transplanted it elsewhere or are we better off just getting rid of it?

ANSWER:

You did not mention the type of magnolia you have, but since it is in Plano, TX, I'm guessing it is the Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora. I'll go a little further out on a limb, and guess it's the cultivar "Little Gem", which has been developed as a compact, upright version of M. grandiflora, more suitable to the smaller lots in urban residential areas. The leaves on a Little Gem are small, about 4" long, narrow, dark green with a bronze reverse. They bloom at an early age and sporadically during Summer. All that having been said, it still would appear your tree is not in a good location. Magnolias grow at a rate of about one to two feet yearly, and once they've been planted, they don't like to be disturbed. Their roots spread wider than most trees, and for that reason transplanting is difficult, as it is necessary to trim the roots quite a bit to made the move manageable, and a lot of root system is lost. If the tree is left where it is, you can expect it to be about 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. This is going to get it too close to your house, but an even greater problem is going to be the roots and the driveway. At four feet from the driveway, those roots are probably already under the driveway, and that's not good for either the tree or the drive.

Magnolias are magnificent trees; traditionally, the classic picture of them was of a corridor of trees leading up to a Southern mansion. Unfortunately, very few people live that way now, but the magnolia remains a tree that should be planted out in a fairly wide area, away from structures. Your tree might very well be all right where it is for a few years, but it's only a matter of time until branches are going to be against the house and over the driveway, and roots are going to be reaching both underground.

All that having been said, you may well want to make the effort to save your Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia). If you have an open space large enough to accommodate it in its mature form, it would be a wonderful addition to your landscape.

For more information on transplanting trees, use this link to Michigan State University.

 

From the Image Gallery


Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

More Transplants Questions

Transplanting Virginia creeper
September 02, 2008 - I have a large Virginia creeper plant approximately 15 feet in length. Is it possible to transplant the whole thing without killing it? If so how do I care for it after it has been moved? Thank yo...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa
June 18, 2012 - Re: Asclepias tuberosa, "butterfly weed" bush -- I have a bed in a mix of Shoal Creek well-drained caliche, soil, and some enrichment of mulch that gets almost full sun and low water. After 4 yrs a...
view the full question and answer

Blossom fall after rain on Polystachys lutea, Shrimp Lollipop
July 17, 2008 - I live in San Antonio and had previously bought shrimp lollipop plants and after the rain we had recently all the blooms fell off. So my question is did it die or should I just leave it alone?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a bald cypress from Houston
December 10, 2012 - We would like to transplant a bald cypress from front yard to back. It is about 10 ft tall, 3" trunk diameter, 2-1/2 years old and in good health. Any idea how large the root ball might need to be du...
view the full question and answer

Leaf fall from Cedar Elm planted in clay
August 17, 2008 - I saw the answer to leaves falling off a cedar elm planted in clay. However I planted a Cedar Elm in my back yard. I dug a hole in the grass then planted and put grass back on top. I water every other...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.