Skip to Content

Can a Magnolia Tree Grow Inside in a Pot? (Explained)

Sharing is caring!

Magnolia trees are popular for their attractive large, colorful flowers and also for their shape. They grow both vertically and horizontally and need a large space. But you can also plant them in a small space if you know the right way. 

Can a magnolia tree grow inside in a pot?

Magnolia can be grown perfectly in a pot method as they are slow growing trees. They require 10-20 years on average to become mature. However, potting differs depending on the growth of varieties of magnolias. Right size of pots need to be chosen for potting, else their growth will be hampered.

The cultivation of little heighten magnolias in pots is really possible. Because their roots do not reach deep into the soil and they grow much slower. They take a minimum 10-20 years to become mature.

Also, in a container, it is easy to shift in the sun when the weather changes. Little gem, star, and ann are some miniature kinds of magnolia that can be potted with proper soiling and care.

The ‘stellate’ magnolias can spread 80 to 90 cm of height initially in a pot as these have small growing roots.

Large magnolia trees can also be cultured in large containers with a pot with multiple bottom holes for water drainage to prevent root rot.

The small and dwarf magnolias develop slowly and horizontally in the earth and take time to reach their final size. However, when it comes to cultivating magnolias, choosing the right container size is crucial.

To avoid disturbing the roots, use a pot that is twice the size of the root ball or 10 times larger than the current size.

The root will grow two inches when grown in a two-foot-wide, two-foot-long pot and leave a space at the top to maintain the moisture as their roots are usually closer to the soil. Because they have intricate roots, they will require a lot of fertilizer to flourish in a pot.

Take a container of the same foot for each inch of developing root; for example, if it matures at four inches, use a pot that is four feet wide and long.

Are there any dwarf magnolias I can grow in a pot? Which is the smallest magnolia tree?

Some of the smallest dwarf varieties of magnolia species mature into multi stemmed shrubs slowly, and the roots stay much closer to the surface, which make them perfect for potting.

Moreover, dwarf varieties such as Little Gem, Ann, Teddy Bear, Star etc. are slow-growing shrubs with roots that reach ten to twenty feet, making them ideal for potting in small gardens.

These are easy to care for because they don’t require much effort and can easily blossom with proper soiling and maintenance. Dwarfs of a considerable size may require large containers.

The ‘Lily’ magnolia is a genus of deciduous shrubs that grow eight to twelve feet both long and wide and spread quickly due to their shallow roots is the smallest. It has three to four-inch pinkish purple flowers with a pleasant aroma that bloom early in the spring.

These slow-growing magnolias are easy to grow and thrive in moist soil and full sun. They need good drainage to allow the roots to spread.

Little Gem, Ann, Star etc. are also small magnolias and perfect for small gardens but they grow a little a little bigger (12-20 feet) than the ‘Lily’ magnolia.

Can you keep a magnolia tree small? 

Yes, magnolias can be kept small by pruning them down to the trunk after blossoming which normally occurs between mid and late April. It’s the time when leaves open fully and pruning down to the trunk will maintain its size.

However, pruning too late or too much might reduce the amount of blooming the following year and make the plant more susceptible to disease since it heals slowly.

Start by pinching the tips of each branch and eliminating the lowest stems that contact the trunk, as well as any wasted blossoms and crossed or dried branches or suckers. Trimming should be limited to one-third of the trees, with care taken not to damage the bark.

The bottom branches of evergreen magnolias are usually chopped off to prevent outward growth and retain their shape during late spring. In early fall, midsummer, weak branches of deciduous magnolias should be pruned to keep the tree small, but pruning is rarely necessary.

What size pot do I need for magnolia? 

The pot size should be selected based on the tree’s height. Because many small magnolias can even grow more than 20 feet tall with a four-inch maturity. So, they require a minimum of four-foot space planter that is also four by four feet wide and long.

The pot must be twice as broad as its root ball to keep the growing tree upright, and it must be made of stone rather than plastic, with several drainage holes.

The size of the pot is limited by the magnolia variety. For good growth, the upper section of the pot must have a 6-inch region for adding mulch to the surface. 

It is necessary to establish a spacing between magnolia plants to avoid overcrowding and to support growth. Because the brushes of these trees can spread up to fifteen feet wide for dwarf varieties, it’s best to plant them twenty feet apart so that roots are not damaged.

How do you keep a magnolia small? 

Here are the steps that need to follow if you want to keep a magnolia small:


Pruning is sensitive for Magnolia trees, so you should trim them over a span of 2-3 years. It’s the time for pruning between the midsummer and early fall but you have to wait till the first blossoms.

Prune the dried or diseased or injured branches first and then prune the other branches that seem weak or wrong angled. Pruning also keeps the tree healthy but it shouldn’t be more than one third of the tree at a time.

Cut off young branches:

In its lower side, you can notice young new branches. To control the growth you need to cut them off. These branches are not more than 1-2 in diameter. You can occasionally cut them off not regularly as it will harm their health.


You should use clean and sharp pruning shears or loppers while trimming the tree. Mid to late spring is the perfect time for trimming. Cut the thin side-tips where they meet the branch, and it’ll reduce the density of the tree.

Cut trunk side branches:

Use lopping shears to cut trunk sided branches. Find the branch collar, where the trunk and branch connect and cut them off.

Crop the water sprouts:

When a branch is pruned or broken, dozens of water sprouts grow. You need to rub the water sprouts and break them off. Cropping water sprouts will keep growth in control.

How to pot a magnolia tree? 

If you want to pot you magnolia tree follow these steps:

Select the pot size:

You need to be much careful while choosing the size of the pot. The pot needs to be 10 times larger or twice the size of the root ball or take the same foot for each inch.

Because it can grow much taller on its maturity and small pots might hinder their growth of the roots. 

Mix the soil and prepare the pot:

Potting mixture has to contain lots of organic matter like 25% composted cow manure, 25% coarse river sand, blood and bone powder and other nutrients to help the tree bloom faster.

The pot needs to have many drainage holes that’ll help to clear the excessive water quickly. Or, you can add rocks and gravel.

Add plant:

After preparing the pot it’s time to place your magnolia tree in the right place of the pot. Make sure you have put the plant into the center and then add the mixture on the top. But don’t put too much soil that it won’t be able to breathe.

Add mulch:

While putting the mixture give a six inches gap to add mulches. Magnolia trees prefer cool roots and mulches help to maintain soil temperature and also protect its roots.


You’re done with potting and it’s time for watering. A fresh potted magnolia tree doesn’t require fertilizer but water. As magnolia trees are shallow and easily get dry, they need proper moisture. 


If you notice roots are coming off or growing in the drainage holes or the plant dries out more quickly, which means now you need to repot it in another bigger pot. Otherwise, their growth will be hampered.

Final thoughts

Magnolia can easily grow in a pot. They grow very slowly and horizontally in the soil and to become mature they need almost 10-20 years. There are varieties of magnolias and depending on their growth, the right size of pots need to be chosen, else potting will hamper their growth and may perish.

Sharing is caring!