How to Balance pH for Southern Magnolia

Maintaining the optimal pH level is crucial for the health and growth of Southern Magnolia plants. This guide will provide you with a step-by-step approach to balancing the pH of your soil to create the ideal growing conditions for your Southern Magnolia.

Soil Test: Determining the Current pH Level

The first step in balancing the pH for your Southern Magnolia is to conduct a soil test. This will help you determine the current pH level of your soil, which is typically between 5.0 and 6.0 for these plants. You can purchase a home soil testing kit or send a sample to your local extension service for a more accurate analysis.

Amending the Soil: Lowering the pH

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If your soil test reveals a pH level above 6.0, you’ll need to lower it to create the acidic conditions that Southern Magnolias thrive in. To do this, you can add elemental sulfur or a sulfur-containing product to the soil.

The amount of amendment needed will depend on the current pH level, the desired pH level, and the soil type. As a general guideline, you’ll need to add 1 to 2 pounds of elemental sulfur per 100 square feet to lower the pH by one unit.

Incorporating the Amendment

Once you’ve determined the appropriate amount of amendment, it’s time to mix it into the soil. Incorporate the sulfur or sulfur-containing product into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. This will ensure that the roots of your Southern Magnolia can access the amendment and that it has a lasting effect on the soil pH.

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Waiting and Retesting

southern magnolia 2Image source: Pixabay

After applying the amendment, it can take several months for the pH to adjust. Be patient and wait for the recommended time frame, then retest the soil to ensure the pH is within the optimal range of 5.0 to 6.0.

Ongoing Monitoring

Even after achieving the desired pH level, it’s important to monitor the soil regularly to ensure it stays within the optimal range. Conduct annual or bi-annual soil tests to keep an eye on the pH and make any necessary adjustments.

Additional Care Tips for Southern Magnolias

Balancing the pH is just one aspect of caring for your Southern Magnolia. Here are some other important considerations:


Southern Magnolias prefer consistently moist, well-drained soil. Water them deeply and regularly, providing enough water to saturate the root zone. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other diseases.


Southern Magnolias benefit from annual fertilization, especially in soils with low nutrient levels. Use a slow-release fertilizer with a high nitrogen content in the spring to promote healthy growth and prevent nutrient deficiencies.


Prune Southern Magnolias in the late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. Remove any dead or damaged branches, as well as any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. This will help maintain the tree’s shape and structure.


Apply organic mulch, such as bark chips or leaves, around the base of the Southern Magnolia to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds. Keep the mulch away from the trunk to prevent rot and disease.

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By following these steps and providing the necessary care, you can successfully balance the pH for your Southern Magnolia and create the ideal growing conditions for this beautiful and iconic tree.

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