transplant a magnolia

Asked January 22, 2013, 5:28 PM EST

When is it a good time to transplant an evergreen magnolia ('Little Gem') that I planted last year? It is currently about 7 feet tall but not very wide--maybe about 1 1/2 feet wide. Should I prune the top a little so it can grow more to the sides as well?

Washington County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for asking about your magnolia tree. If you planted it only a year ago, I expect you will have success moving it, though it is hard on the tree. Keep close watch on it this summer. I suggest you wait to move it until March or April, and choose a time when the soil is a bit dry, not saturated from steady rains. Oregon State University publication ec1438, "Selecting, Planting, and Caring for a new tree" ( includes advice on this, also on choosing the site for the tree. You don't want to keep moving it, I'm sure.
Consider the natural shape of this magnolia cultivar when you site it, and when pruning. OSU Landscape Plants says "‘Little Gem’ - to 20-25 ft × 10-15 ft (6-7.6 × 3-4.5 m), small and narrow, tends to grow as a shrub, can be trained as a tree, also used as a container plant, leaves and flowers smaller than species type." ( I guess that the tree will naturally fill out some on the sides in the next few years. Pruning really depends on what shape you want, and is seldom an exact science. I hope you enjoy the tree for many years.