This is a running log for a Star Magnolia that I acquired from a nursery as a Bonsai project.



  • Michael Hagedorn Deciduous Early Development Part 1 - Part 2
    • When pruning, don’t cut to much. If you do you’ll create a lot of vigorous growth and end up with long internodes, which we don’t want.
    • Leave some branches on the tree that you intend to keep or don’t need to cut now. Let them grow a little long until you eventually cut them off.
  • International Bonsai 2007 no. 1 Spring Flowering Bonsai - Developing Magnolia Bonsai
  • Reddit Conversation on keeping this alive.
    • Responds well to hard chops.
    • Back buds aggressively
    • Don’t do any trimming until after it blooms in the spring.
    • Do any trimming before it puts out too much new growth for the year so you can direct that growth.

Working Plan

  1. Fall / Winter 2021-2022
    • Basic wiring for main trunks and desired future leads. (Blue lines below)
    • Move into a pond basket and survey the roots.
    • Replace up to 25% of soil with bonsai soil to start rotating out the nursery soil.
  2. Spring 2022
    • Wait for flowers to bloom
    • Chop the main trunks (red lines). My goal is to move new growth lower on the tree for a more compact shape and encourage some more thickening of the main trunks.
      • I also need to encourage ramification. Most of the branches look like the branches were being developed to be a tree in a yard, not a bonsai. I’ll be looking to promote secondary branch development.
    • Let it grow for the rest of the year.

Working Plan


I Purchased this Star Magnolia on a bit of a lark when visiting Swansons Nursery while we were there to get kids Santa photos. I purchased this tree for $105, which was probably too much.

Original photos side 1 and side 2. Original Side 1 Original Side 2

Things I like:

  • It’s a more mature tree than I have now. I think that I can move towards an actual bonsai pot in the early spring.
  • There is some decent movement in both of the trunks. There is more movement in the thicker of the two trunks. I think I’ll keep both trunks.
  • I’m excited to have a flowering deciduous tree in my small collection.
  • The soil feels pretty compacted I wasn’t able to dig in and see what the roots look like with just my fingers. Some more exploration will be needed once I get to repotting in February.