Magnolia blossom: flowering time & reasons for lack of flowers


For me plants are some of the most exciting living beings, even though they live in slow motion. They have fascinating abilities and just so much potential! That's why I studied organic farming. However, since plants are rather thin on the ground in my city, I often spend time hiking in the nearby mountains at the weekend. In the future I would love to run a farm myself.

Favourite fruit: strawberries and gooseberries
Favourite vegetable: courgettes

Magnolia is known for its exceptionally beautiful flowers. Here you can learn everything about the magnolia blossom and what to do if the flower fails to bloom.

white and pink magnolia flowers
You can easily recogise magnolias by their flowers [Photo: Cristina Ionescu/]

The magic of magnolia flowers (Magnolia) is hard to deny. These lush flowering trees bring spring not only to the garden, but also to many cities. Here you can find out what the reason behind a failed magnolia blossom could be.

Magnolias are very old plants and the species is over 100 million years old. Accordingly, their flowers are also unique. The petals are arranged in a spiral and have no fixed number. The same applies to the stamens. This makes the magnolia flowers a relic of ancient times. But that does not make it old-fashioned at all. On the contrary, since hardly anyone can resist the beauty of its large flowers.

When is the flowering period of magnolia?

Magnolia is an absolute early bloomer. Some species begin to unfold their splendour as early as March. Among the first are the white flowers of the star magnolia (Magnolia stellaria). It is not long before tulip magnolias (Magnolia x soulangeana) come into bloom, before purple magnolias (Magnolia liliifolia) bloom in May. Since the leaves do not emerge into the daylight until after flowering, the white to pink flowers shine all the more noticeably. Flowering lasts about three weeks, if no late frost intervenes – magnolias are very sensitive to this and turn brown. If you live in a region where late frosts are common, be sure to plant a late-blooming magnolia species.

close up of magnolia stamen
The radiant magnolia flowers bloom in hues of white and pink for about three weeks [Photo: Yuliia Hurzhos/]

Magnolia not blooming

There can be many reasons that a magnolia tree does not bloom. You do not need to worry right away, often it is just a matter of time.

Magnolia not blossoming: possible reasons for a lack of flowering

There are several causes for a lack of flowering in magnolias:

  • The plant is too young: Before magnolias focus on their flowers, they must first grow themselves. After all, flowers are essentially only for reproduction and need a lot of power – so young magnolias are actually still children. It can take up to ten years for a magnolia to form its first flowers. This depends on the species and variety, but also on whether the magnolia was grown from seed or cuttings.
  • Frost is the most common because for a failed magnolia bloom. Some winters are so cold that the buds freeze. Late frosts can also because this, because buds are especially sensitive just before and during flowering. Some species and varieties are also not sufficiently frost tolerant. Frost-sensitive species often respond to cold winters by not flowering. Flowering will be even more sensitive if you fertilised your magnolia into autumn the previous year.
  • Pruning: magnolia forms its buds for the coming year in early autumn. So, if you have pruned your tree too late, the magnolia will stop flowering. Radical pruning also leads to a lack of flowering for some time, as the magnolia must first recover and gather new strength.
  • Autumn drought: Forming flowers is exhausting and requires a lot of strength. But most importantly, the magnolia needs a lot of water. If you have ever taken a closer look at a magnolia flower, you will have noticed how thick-fleshed the leaves are. This requires a lot of water. If the autumn remains dry, the plant will lack sufficient water. The magnolia then uses the little water that is still available for its own growth rather than for reproduction.
  • The wrong location: If the magnolia feels uncomfortable in its location, it will not want to bloom. You should, therefore, check the location of your magnolia.
pink magnolia flower buds
Magnolias start preparing their flower buds a year in advance

Magnolia not blooming: what to do in the absence of flowering?

As many different causes as there are, there can also be just as many measures to encourage blooming. First, try to figure out which of the reasons might apply to your magnolia. If it is due to the fact that your plant is too young, then simply waiting will help. If incorrect pruning the previous year is the reason for the absence of buds and flowers, you can learn how to best prune your magnolia here.

When it comes to the weather, things can be more difficult. You can tackle autumn drought with a little more water in dry autumns. If frost is to blame, then it is best to check your variety more accurately. Perhaps your magnolia is not sufficiently frost tolerant. In that case, you might prefer to give your plant to a friend or relative in slightly warmer climes and get a more hardy magnolia. However, even frost-tolerant varieties do poorly in particularly cold winters. Thus, even if you optimally account for all conditions, you could still face years without a magnolia bloom.

Last but not least, it helps to check the location. Perhaps your magnolia is not comfortable in its location. In this case, you should make efforts to move the plant before it becomes too large. Keep in mind, however, that even a change of location can put the plant under stress. This means that your magnolia will almost certainly not bloom again the following year, because it first needs to get used to its new environment.

Proper care is a major contributor to good flowering. Since the magnolia should be supplied with sufficient nutrients every year, compost or a slow-release fertiliser such as our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food is recommended.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Here, you will learn everything about correctly fertilising magnolias and in this article, you’ll find all the important information on pruning.

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