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David Beaulieu

Magnolia Tree Care

By June 2, 2012

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Have questions about magnolia tree care? Here's an introductory Q&A to help you. For instance, have you had trouble getting your buds to open? There are several potential culprits, including thrips, frost and rot due to extended periods of cold weather in spring (not much you can do about those last 2). Read my tips on magnolia care in this article.

Note on the Comments section below for magnolia tree care: Please post any further questions on magnolia tree care in the Landscaping forum, rather than posting them here, as this space wasn't intended for so many queries.

I realize this means a bit more work for you, but I'd like to reserve the Comments section for the function that it's best suited to serve: posting comments. The forum, by contrast, is set up in such a way that it's better suited for questions than is the Comments section. I look forward to answering your questions on magnolia tree care in the forum. And once you're a forum member, you're part of our community. See you there!

Related articles:
Jane Magnolias
Saucer Magnolias
Star Magnolias

More: How a Tree Gets Its Scientific Name


July 8, 2008 at 10:13 am
(1) Norma says:

I have a Magnolia Tree that is weeping sap and has a white substance on the branches. What could it be? Can the tree be saved, or must it be cut down. The sap is causing a problem on my house roof and the cars in the drive. Also causing flies and bees which are a problem.

July 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm
(2) landscaping says:

I have heard of instances where the cause of such leaking of sap from magnolia trees is either aphid infestation or scale infestation: specifically, those pests are sucking the sap out of the magnolia trees and excreting it. Products for killing and/or controlling such pests are available at home improvement stores (tell them you suspect you have an aphid or scale problem on your magnolia tree and ask for their opinion).

July 11, 2008 at 10:32 pm
(3) Michelle says:

WE have a magnolia tree that was planted about 3 1/2 years ago. It has been doing realy well, but my husband noticed tonight that is is cracking vertically. There have been horizontal cracks before that we were told were normal, but we are worried about the vertical crack. What is this and what can we do?

July 13, 2008 at 9:02 am
(4) landscaping says:

I haven’t heard of cracking as being a problem in magnolia tree care, specifically, but check out this Web site that deals with cracks in the trunks of trees, in general.

July 14, 2008 at 1:24 pm
(5) Jaki says:

Planted a Magnolia 3 years ago, hasn’t flowered, Does it need fertilizer? What care can I give it?

June 30, 2011 at 8:35 pm
(6) heather says:

hi.. well it took me 7 years to get a few flowers.. they r very fussy… needs 6to 8 hours of sunlight…and i have 2 tips for u…they love apple juice…. and if u have a dry aug and sept….. u need too water them very well for about a week for next years flowers…..

July 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm
(7) landscaping says:

Magnolia trees (depending on variety) can take 3 or more years to bloom, so patience is definitely a virtue here. But an application of fertilizer, as long as you follow the directions properly, could certainly be a plus in your magnolia tree care. Plants need phosphorous to set bud.

July 15, 2008 at 9:31 am
(8) Rick Lasher says:

Planted a Southern Magnolia specifically developed to plant in Northern New Jersey. It has bloomed from the second year. This year it bloomed very little and it is now losing many leaves -(many, many more than usual – some curling up and dying. What can be causing this and what can I do to counteract this problem?

June 20, 2011 at 8:52 am


June 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm
(10) Charlene says:

Lots of leaves falling all year long. Whyso much?

July 18, 2008 at 2:24 pm
(11) landscaping says:

The 2 problems you report for your southern magnolia tree could be unrelated. Lack of flowering could be due to any one of a number of factors, including killing of buds by a late frost in spring. As for the leaves falling off your southern magnolia tree, it’s hard to diagnose without being there, but keep in mind that scale insects are a frequent problem in magnolia tree care.

July 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm
(12) terri says:

how do i get seeds frm magnolia tree flower? Do i wait till it blooms.

July 19, 2008 at 10:31 pm
(13) landscaping says:

My magnolia tree care hasn’t extended to raising magnolias from seed (a daunting task). But from what I’ve read (although this may depend on the type of magnolia tree), you wait for your magnolia tree to flower and form a seed pod, which ripens by fall; then remove the seed pod to get at the seeds.

August 8, 2008 at 9:00 am
(14) K Hall says:

Can I move a small magnolia tree to another location which gets more sun

August 8, 2008 at 11:13 am
(15) David Beaulieu says:

Yup, moving a small magnolia tree shouldn’t be a problem. Read these tips on transplanting trees.

September 1, 2008 at 3:12 am
(16) Loh Sylvester says:

Have heard about this tree to be effective in some ill domains like halitosis etc. Where can one buy this in a local market. Is it avaible for sell and where?.

September 1, 2008 at 10:13 am
(17) Carrie says:

We bought a house a year ago with a magnolia. It’s about 10 feet. Last fall it shed all of it’s leaves and this past spring barely any of them came back. Now, the last week of August all of the leaves have already fallen off. I have broken off all of the dead limbs. Can you tell me what is going on with our tree?

September 1, 2008 at 3:16 pm
(18) landscaping says:

Sorry, Carrie, but I’d need more information than that (and, even then, it would be just an educated guess) to diagnose what’s wrong with your magnolia tree. For instance: type of magnolia tree, where you live, how much rain/irrigation it has received, how much sun it gets, any fertilizers you’ve used in the area, presence of any insects (or anything else that shouldn’t be on the tree), etc.

September 1, 2008 at 3:20 pm
(19) landscaping says:


Never heard of the halitosis connection. But in terms of where magnolia trees can be bought locally, I’d say try any nursery in your area that is known to sell trees. Never rule out any of the big chains (Home Depot, etc.), either, if you’re shopping for price.

September 1, 2008 at 7:45 pm
(20) Carrie says:

I think it’s a Southern Magnolia. I was just told by the previous owner that it is a magnolia. We live in Louisville and the past two summers have been very dry. The tree gets about half a days sun and all we do is water it. I haven’t noticed any uncommon pests around our yard, just ants. We have never fertilized the tree. It was so full and beautiful last June and now it’s so sad and bare! Should I break off more of the dead limbs?

September 1, 2008 at 9:09 pm
(21) landscaping says:

Thanks for providing more info, Carrie, about your magnolia tree. You ask, “Should I break off more of the dead limbs?” A rule of thumb for tree care in such cases is to ascertain where there is green underneath the bark (signaling life) and to prune off only where there’s brown (signaling death). To make this determination, take a sharp knife and make a small cut through the bark of your magnolia tree. Such pruning certainly can’t hurt.

Here’s my educated guess as to what may have sent your magnolia tree into decline. You say that you’ve had dry summers recently and that you’ve watered a lot to compensate. In such cases, folks frequently over-compensate and drown the roots (although there are too many variables involved for me to be able to say you need to supply it with X amount of water per week). If you have a clay soil, the chances of this happening go up dramatically. If you think it’s possible you’ve been over-watering, I’d ease up on the watering. The magnolia tree’s roots will have less top growth to support, anyhow, after your pruning, so it won’t require as much water.

Best of luck!

September 4, 2008 at 6:58 pm
(22) Susan Harris says:

My magnolia has red seeds coming out from the part where it flowered. Can I plant these to grow a tree? If so, what do they like; dry, moist, shade, sun?

September 5, 2008 at 12:02 pm
(23) landscaping says:


If you live where it gets cold in winter, don’t plant the seeds from your magnolia tree now. Instead, put the seeds in a freezer bag filled with peat moss. Dampen the peat, seal the bag and put it in the fridge at about 40º. In late winter, sow the seeds in a container filled with a growing medium (a seed tray) and place the container in a sunny window. Don’t plant the magnolia tree sprouts outside until danger of frost has passed.

Plant your magnolia tree sprouts in full sun and in a well-drained, loamy soil that you keep evenly moist, but not wet.

September 7, 2008 at 10:45 pm
(24) jena says:

saucer magnolia is looking like it is sunburn, the leaves are starting to look burnt, browning & looking thin. The last 2 springs ’07 &’08 decreased blooms and 2008 some of the blooms looked like I described the leaves, which I thought it was from a late freeze. the tree is about 15yo, 15-20′tall and have been well taken care of (in requards to pruning regularly) I havent seen any pest and the bark is smooth looks normal. gets all day sun, water regually, I live in north texas.PLEASE HELP MY (TULIP) {I CALL IT}) TREE. I would hate to loose it.

September 9, 2008 at 6:29 pm
(25) Sal says:

I live in Portland Oregon and recently planted a magnolia tree in my front yard. I noticed the new growth is turning brown. What do you suggest I do?

September 12, 2008 at 8:21 pm
(26) landscaping says:


Ease up a bit on watering your magnolia tree for the rest of the growing season and see how it looks next spring. Healthy specimens (whether magnolia trees or otherwise) profit from fall watering; but the brown leaves make this a different situation.

September 12, 2008 at 9:02 pm
(27) landscaping says:


The brown leaves could be due to any of a number of factors — very difficult to diagnose over the Web. For instance, the problem could be either too much or too little water (both of which have to be considered in the context of soil drainage); or your soil could be nutrient-deficient (a soil test never hurts).

September 12, 2008 at 11:50 pm
(28) Connie says:

I purchased two Magnolia trees from Steins Gardens. Didn’t notice the leaves had black spots on them until they were already planted. Went back to the store, and ALL their Magnolias had these spots. They told me it was from moisture. The leaves turned brown and fell off. They told me this will happend every summer when it gets hot (I live in Wisconsin). They said not to worry – come Spring it will be fine. I’m worried – what do you say?

September 13, 2008 at 11:21 am
(29) landscaping says:


What you probably have is something known in the magnolia tree care literature as “leaf spot.” The problem could very well have originated “from moisture,” as they told you, since leaf spot is a fungus. I’ve never experienced it on my own magnolia trees (then again, I may have types different from yours), but leaf spot reputedly isn’t a major concern. The recommendation is to rake up and properly dispose of the affected leaves, so the fungus doesn’t spread. Having said all that, I am still, of course, in no way making any predictions about how your magnolia trees will do next year (always risky business over the Web!).

Best of luck.

September 15, 2008 at 9:02 pm
(30) Teri says:

I am looking to plant a magnolia tree…I live in Denver(outside of Charlotte), NC and I am looking for help:
What type does better in my area?
What type of soil?
I guess what I am looking for is all of the important information in planting the tree and watching it grow successfully!
Thank you!

June 30, 2011 at 8:30 pm
(31) heather says:

all i can tell u is when u get one… they r very fussy… they need alot of sun..6 hours of sunlight… if u have a dry aug and sept.. make sure u water the roots real good for about a week.. this gets it ready for the next year… and here is a tip.. they love apple juice :)

September 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm
(32) landscaping says:


For region-specific info on magnolia tree care and selection, it’s best to check with a local county extension. Here’s a Web site for one close to you (it provides phone numbers):

NC State

September 22, 2008 at 10:52 am
(33) Jim Coulson says:

Magnolia roots are easily damaged. We had one that was looking a bit sickly. Roots were pretty much exposed in a lot of places, as the root system frequently poked up through the ground.

Had an arborist tell me that as a last resort, he would recommend covering those roots with soil to hold moisture and prevent nicks/cuts with lawn mowers. I build a flower bed with 6″ of soil over the top of the exposed roots, and the tree recovered nicely.

September 22, 2008 at 3:28 pm
(34) jim says:

We have a large bush that looks similar to a magnolia however, in this climate I doubt if one would survive. Is there such a thing as a northern magnolia? This bush flowers in early spring and just lately it has pods that open to expose small red berries.

September 23, 2008 at 1:16 pm
(35) landscaping says:


I grow a couple types of magnolia trees in my zone 5 landscape — but nothing that puts out red berries.

October 4, 2008 at 5:50 pm
(36) Dorraine says:

I have a southern magnolia tree I live in central FL in Aug. we got hit with tropical storm Fay which I had about 2 feet of water on my property for about 10 days the tree is about 12′ tall I planted it about 3 yrs ago but now about a week ago I noticed that all the leaves have turned brown have I lost the tree or is there something that I can do to save it

October 4, 2008 at 8:01 pm
(37) landscaping says:


Sounds like the roots “drowned.” Sorry, but I wouldn’t be especially hopeful that your magnolia tree will pull through. You could try digging some channels to drain the waterlogged soil, but that’s a lot of work; if it were my yard, I’d probably just buy a replacement (after the soil has dried out).

October 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm
(38) betty deni says:

please advise I have a magnolia tree which bloomed this summer and started forming seed pods. recently i noticed that the pods were gone! could it be that squirrels stole them?
I would like to know how to protect the pods once they appear, so whatever happened to them will not happen in the future. the tree is only two years old.

October 8, 2008 at 12:25 pm
(39) Jennifer says:

My husband purchased a magnolia for me last year. The nursery said that it is a Southern Magnolia, but the leaves are not the deep rich green with redish undersides that I am used to seeing on a Southern. Is it possible that it isn’t a Southern? Where would I find good pictures of Magnolia’s to compare what I have to all the different species of Magnolia’s?

November 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm
(40) Brian says:

I have the same problem. My leaves are a light green instead of the dark green. The veins and structure of the leaves are the same, just not the color. Did you get any info on your question?

November 14, 2011 at 9:57 am
(41) landscaping says:


My response to Jennifer was located immediately below your post.

October 9, 2008 at 8:27 am
(42) landscaping says:


A Web search I just tried didn’t yield great results for “magnolia tree pictures” (I didn’t go past the first page of Google results, though), but this piece on magnolia trees may help.

October 9, 2008 at 8:47 am
(43) landscaping says:


I wouldn’t put anything past squirrels! If you really wanted to be on the safe side (this magnolia tree care solution will be practicable only if your specimen isn’t too big), you could surround your magnolia tree with a loose wooden frame (“loose” to indicate that you still want plenty of sunshine to get in) and staple wire mesh all around that frame. The wire mesh would also have to extend 6″ or so underground, to prevent the squirrels from sneaking under the frame.

If that sounds like way too much work to have to do all at once (it does to me!), you could experiment with spreading “stinky” substances (e.g., blood meal) around the area to try to repel the squirrels. Problem is, you have to keep re-applying these as the rain washes them away.

A Scarecrow Sprinkler might be another option.

October 10, 2008 at 1:06 am
(44) karina says:

Hi, we were given a magnolia tree have decided to keep it in a container. We don’t want to plant it in the ground until we get our new home built and move in. In the meantime, how should we care for it?

October 10, 2008 at 4:13 pm
(45) landscaping says:

Sun is fine, but the problem container-grown magnolia tree care is trying to figure out how to water them correctly. That is, both too little and too much irrigation is problematic. Drainage is part of the equation, too. For more, please consult Potted Magnolia Trees.

October 12, 2008 at 11:38 am
(46) Ann Thoni says:

I have dead limbs on my Magnolia Tree, is it safe to cut the dead limbs off? Part of the dead limb is the top of the main tunk, should I top it or leave the tunk alone? The tree is about four years old and it really looks good other than the dead limbs. Seeking advise, don’t want to damage the life of my magnolia!

October 12, 2008 at 12:53 pm
(47) Jan Goddard says:

My question is about pruning magnolia trees. The height and width of mine are now getting to the point where I’d like to prune it back, to reduce its size. But it’s a matter of both how I should trim it and whether or not this is even a good idea.

October 15, 2008 at 8:02 am
(48) Chris says:

I live in Charleston, SC and I have a magnolia that I planted a couple of years ago when it was about 5 feet tall (B&B). It finally flowered this past spring some, but not much. Now suddenly I am having a lot of yellowing leaves. Any ideas?

October 19, 2008 at 1:03 pm
(49) michael says:

I live in South FL. My magnolia tree is on the south side of our property (most sun). The bark has a lightish green circular shaped rubbery type of growth on the main trunk which comes off if you rub it off. I think this may be killing my tree since the leaves are drying up and the tree is mostly bare. I do not see any insects on it. Yet, the tree is still flowering in places. It is about 8 feet high. Any idea if that growth is harmful to tree- unsure if it is a fungus or somthing else. DO YOU THINK THERE IS A CORRELATION BETWEEN THIS “FUNGIS” AND CONDITION OF TREE? WHAT CAN BE SPRAYED ON TREE TO REMOVE THIS FUNGIS? THANKS.

October 24, 2008 at 12:12 pm
(50) landscaping says:


As I wrote above, in response to a similar question on magnolia tree care:

“A rule of thumb for tree care in such cases is to ascertain where there is green underneath the bark (signaling life) and to prune off only where there’s brown (signaling death). To make this determination, take a sharp knife and make a small cut through the bark of your magnolia tree. Such pruning certainly can’t hurt.”

As for topping your magnolia tree, it would be unfortunate if you had to do so. However, if the top is dead, then it’s dead — not much you can do about it. Sorry.

October 26, 2008 at 3:03 pm
(51) Linda says:

We moved into our new home last winter. We have a huge magnolia tree in our yard (20 or more feet high) with many blooms. Can you use the pods with the red berries to grow other trees? Excuse my ignorance.

October 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm
(52) landscaping says:


Please consult When to Prune Magnolia Trees.

October 29, 2008 at 9:20 pm
(53) landscaping says:
October 30, 2008 at 5:52 pm
(54) landscaping says:


From the Clemson Extension:

“Most magnolias are generally pest-free. They may be troubled by various types of scales, which can infest twigs and leaves. They are also subject to leaf spots, black mildew, blights, scab and canker, caused by various fungi or bacteria. Control is not generally warranted.”

Rather than fungi, it could be lichens, which are relatively harmless. My guess (and that’s all it can be, a guess, given my ignorance of your magnolia tree’s life history) is that there’s no cause-effect relationship between this “rubbery type of growth” and the state of your magnolia tree’s foliage.

October 30, 2008 at 5:56 pm
(55) landscaping says:


Yes, you can use the pods with the red berries to grow other magnolia trees. For those who live in the North, here is one way to approach seed starting for a magnolia tree.

Fill a Ziploc bag with sphagnum peat moss and place your seeds in this bag. After moistening the peat moss, seal the Ziploc tightly and store it in a refrigerator. The temperature should be approximately 40 degrees. In March sow the seeds in a seed tray using a seed-starting medium (available at some garden centers). Locate in a sunny window and await sprouting with all the anticipation that a herald of spring merits! But wait until danger of frost is over before planting the magnolia tree sprouts in the landscape. When you do plant, select an area in full sunshine and that has well-drained, loamy ground.

After-planting care: water to achieve even moisture, but do not flood the area.

November 1, 2008 at 10:38 am
(56) denise says:

thirteen years ago i planted a magnolia tree in honer of a loved one. the tree grew like you wouldent believe,it flowered every year and was so thick with leaves that you could not see light through it well we just got an early snow 9 inches in 5 hrs, and all those thick leaves held on to it and it pealed it like a banana is their any way i can save it or should i cut it down?

November 1, 2008 at 9:54 pm
(57) landscaping says:


Without being there, it’s tough to tell how badly damaged your magnolia tree is. If it’s in really bad shape, it might not recover (although there’s no sense in being hasty about cutting it down). Short of calling in an arborist, the best you can do is hope that it heals; the use of tree “paints” for wounds is generally discouraged now. Keep an eye out for wood borers (whose presence is signaled by fine saw dust at the base of the tree) in the meantime; and if you detect their presence, spray with an insecticide.

November 2, 2008 at 9:39 am
(58) landscaping says:

Hi all,

So that it’s easier for everyone to see, I just wanted to repeat down here what I said above:

Note on the Comments section for magnolia tree care: As of 11/01/2008, 50 comments have been posted, and that’s a good cut-off figure (it’s getting too unwieldy). Please post any further questions on magnolia tree care in the Landscaping forum, rather than posting them here.

I realize this means a bit more work for you, but I’d like to reserve the Comments section for the function that it’s best suited to serve: posting comments. The forum, by contrast, is set up in such a way that it’s better suited for questions than is the Comments section. I look forward to answering your questions on magnolia tree care in the forum. And once you’re a forum member, you’re part of our community. See you there!

March 23, 2009 at 7:26 pm
(59) rpwenz says:

our 3 year old magnolia has 2/3 of its leaves that are now brown. it has done well for its first two years but now we are concerned. we are in northern virgina which has been relatively dry for the past three months.

March 23, 2009 at 7:41 pm
(60) landscaping says:


The brown leaves could be the result of any one of a number of factors. Too little water is certainly a possibility, but so could high winds or frost. A soil test never hurts, in case your soil is nutrient-deficient. When magnolias develop brown leaves that then drop off, it can be a sign of iron deficiency.

March 26, 2009 at 8:23 pm
(61) Debbie says:

I had a magnolia tree planted in my front yard over 5 years ago. It blooms, it looks great but it won’t grow in height. It’s approximately 10-12 feet tall and it just stays the same size. Why won’t it grow taller?


March 26, 2009 at 8:35 pm
(62) landscaping says:


What type of magnolia tree is it? Do you still have the tag? We would really need to know the full, exact scientific plant name to be able to answer your question properly, as mature heights for magnolia trees vary considerably.

March 28, 2009 at 8:25 am
(63) Stephanie says:

We planted a magnolia tree about 3 – 4 years ago (not sure what kind) in our back yard in NC. All of the leaves turned brown over this winter and I don’t remember it doing that before. We did get a little more snow this year than we have had in a while but we didn’t really have any ice this year like we normally do so I am not sure if the leaves turning brown has anything to do with the weather or not. Is my tree dead or is this normal for some types of magnolias and it should recover and turn green again?

March 28, 2009 at 8:56 am
(64) landscaping says:


If you don’t remember the leaves on your magnolia tree turning brown in past winters, then let’s assume you have an evergreen magnolia tree. Unfortunately, the foliage of broadleaf evergreens sometimes suffers winter damage — which may or may not be serious, depending on the severity of the winter weather you experienced. Other than simply waiting to see how the magnolia tree responds this spring, you can perform the test that I described above in this comment #18.

April 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm
(65) stara says:

Can you cut a magnolia tree back to keep it small

April 3, 2009 at 8:05 pm
(66) landscaping says:


You can cut magnolia trees back in this way, but you might not wish to: drastic cutting tends to ruin their naturally-beautiful shape.

April 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm
(67) Pat says:

I have scale-like things on my magnolia tree. Is this something I should spray for? [Question shortened (ed.).]

April 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm
(68) landscaping says:


Please see my article on how to control magnolia scale.

April 22, 2009 at 2:55 pm
(69) Jamie says:

I live in Central Texas and have a Southern Magnolia. I purchased this tree about three years ago. It was about two foot in height when I bought it. It grew about three feet at the beginning of spring and one of my friends children broke it in half. The following spring it grew two feet and was snapped in half during a hail storm. This spring it has not grown. Beautiful leaves and it blooms a couple of blooms per year. Any hope that it will grow taller?

April 25, 2009 at 8:45 am
(70) Catherine McVety says:

We just planted a magnolia tree. Once in the ground I removed most of the burlap and then found a wire mesh under it. Is this okay?

April 28, 2009 at 2:36 pm
(71) Eyvonne says:

I’m considering purchasing a magnolia tree and not certain which type would be best for my environment. I live in North Carolina and have clay dirt.

April 28, 2009 at 3:57 pm
(72) landscaping says:


I don’t know of a specific type of magnolia tree that performs best in clay soil. Mix compost into the hole when planting to amend your clay soil, making it airier. You’ll hear stories of magnolia trees growing just fine in clay soil, but they may be exceptions to the rule.

April 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm
(73) Al says:

I have an 10yo southern mag. (approx 15′ tall). Never a problem; beautiful blooms, nicely shaped. This Spring 90%+ of all the leaves have turned brown & brittle. The soil is moist. No damage to bark/trunk. What possibly could cause this sudden change? No signs of pest damage on leaves. Could underground insects cause such rapid change?

April 30, 2009 at 10:20 pm
(74) sean says:

We have a mature Southern Magnolia that may be about 20 years old, the age of the house that we moved into five years ago. The tree is about 20 feet tall. About a month ago, I noticed that all the leaves on the top section of the tree turned brown and dried out. This brown dry leave condition has moved down the tree so that the top half or more of the tree looks dead, brown dry leaves. The bottom third has green leaves. The soil is moist as it has had good spring rains. The winter was colder than it has been in about 10 years. Gets down in the teens and a few signal digit nights. Anything we can do to save the tree? It looks like its on its way out. It was a beautiful tree.

May 1, 2009 at 10:58 am
(75) John says:

We live in East Texas and have a huge Magnolia tree in our front yard. It gets full sunlight but the leaves are starting to turn yellow and are falling out. Also the green leaves are starting to look like they are shriveling. What can I do?

May 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm
(76) landscaping says:


I suspect that, due to its injuries, your magnolia tree has not been able to gain height via an established leader. Instead, its misfortunes have perhaps had the same impact as intentional topping. If this is so and you are fortunate, hopefully your magnolia tree will adapt to become a multi-stemmed plant (more shrub-like).

May 8, 2009 at 12:39 pm
(77) Zac says:

I recently used a ground clear and round up in our landscaping areas with white rock. I believe that our magnolia may have been exposed to this. We live in Upstate South Carolina. The leaves have turned yellow and are starting to fall. There are some blooms. The tree is at least 15 years old. Will it survive?

May 13, 2009 at 6:24 pm
(78) Korey says:

Just moved into my house in January and we have a young magnolia out front. We noticed this spring it began to lose leaves and they were turning brown pretty quick. We also noticed it had Flowers that lasted for about 2 days before they turned brown. Just wondering if anyone has a possible diagnosis for my suspected sick tree.

May 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm
(79) Jack says:

I have a 80+ year old Magnolia at my home and recently it has started to have several yellowing leaves. I havent lived here too long and would like to know if this is normal for them. I would appreciate any help.

May 24, 2009 at 8:49 am
(80) Karen Alexander says:

I noticed in one of your answers you addresses the brown flowers saying the tree could be under watered or over watered or the soil was nutrient deficient. I really think my problem may be the soil. Is there a nutrient or fertilizer you would recommend?

May 25, 2009 at 1:07 pm
(81) landscaping says:


No, definitely remove the wire mesh from the root ball of your magnolia tree.

May 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm
(82) June Hensley says:

We have a magnolia tree that was on the property when we bought the house. We have no idea what kind of magnolia it is. It did bloom last year, but we had a hard winter here in Louisville, Kentucky. All the leaves on the top of the tree have turned brown and it has not bloomed. Is there anything we can do to help it? Should be just leave it and see what happens next year. I really don’t want to cut it down.

May 27, 2009 at 3:35 pm
(83) Linda J says:

My sister-in-law in Sardis, MS has the most beautiful magnolia trees that has to be over 150 yrs old with soceer size blooms. My son is getting married in Springdale,AR. Is there a way to preserve the buds or blooms from MS to AR without them browning? They would be picked on Fri morning & used on Sat evening. We would like to put them on the tables for the reception. I know this isn’t about the tree itself. If you can’t help me maybe you can direct me to someone who might can. But I’m sure others would like to know how to treat the blooms if picked. Thank you for your time.

May 27, 2009 at 8:26 pm
(84) landscaping says:


Florists use something called a “water tube” to preserve flowers, but I don’t know if the stems of these particular magnolia tree blossoms would fit in or not. The only other thing that comes to mind is refrigeration of some sort (even an ice chest would be better than nothing).

June 1, 2009 at 11:01 am
(85) Dawn says:

I have a magnolia tree that my grandparents planted years ago. We have not had a lot of rain the past couple of years and it looks sick. We trimmed all the dead branches off of it but it is not growing. Is there any type of fertilizer that I can give it? I would like to do whatever I can to save it.

June 1, 2009 at 9:11 pm
(86) Lance says:

Hi -

I planted a Magnolia 2 years ago in an area that turned out to be very wet. I noticed that since I planted it the tree got sicker and sicker looking. I think the roots are rotting.

There are still green leaves and buds on the tree, but it is definitely thinning. I just moved the tree (the hole was muck) to a dry area with much better drainage.

My question is, based on the description I’ve given you, and guess on the chances for survival? Anything I can do to amend the new soil around the transplant or anything else to improve the odds of success?


August 25, 2009 at 10:22 am
(87) Portia Murphy says:

We purchased an old house, build in 1900. We have restored it as much as we could.I love magnolia trees,when is the best time to plant one.We are ready to start our,landscaping.
Thank you,

August 25, 2009 at 12:01 pm
(88) landscaping says:


All else being equal, I’d suggest early spring as the best time to plant magnolia trees.

August 28, 2009 at 8:32 pm
(89) T Sons says:

in our nursery we have alot of trouble with these type of magnolias.They are really bad to get a blight in our late summer drought conditions.We’ve tried growing tose for our wholesale nursery customers but they are never a success.We do have alot of native trees,perennials and plants if anyone form your forum is intrested.

September 27, 2009 at 5:39 pm
(90) Bill says:

We have a magnolia tree that was planted 4 years ago it has really never looked great but always has white flowers around spring. The leaves never got that real dark green look. Now this summer the leaves started looking a lighter green and bark has mold on it! I Have washed the mold off the bark and noticed at the base of the tree the bark is coming off about 4 inches up! Tree is about 4 inches diameter maybe 13 feet tall. I pulled the loose bark off and under it was a ton of ants. Under bark is still solid but a few bore holes that go in only a little bit I think! I put ant killer around the tree but I dont know if this is a problem with magnolias by the way we are in Florida! Any help would be appreciated! Hate to loose a tree that big !

Thanks! Bill

October 28, 2009 at 11:52 pm
(91) Jenni Doyle says:

I live in far northeast Texas, we have had above normal rainfall in the last two years, especially the last couple of months. The ground is so wet it is squishy, and water is standing, more to come tonight and for the next 3 days. I have two Southern Magnolias that were planted shortly before my grandparents bought this property, in 1915. Do I have any reason to be concerned with the ground being so wet? As for now, the trees seem fine, but I am concerned with the ground being as wet as it is and knowing that magnolias do not like overly wet soil.
Thank you.

October 31, 2009 at 12:24 am
(92) Emily says:

I planted some magnolia seeds in a jar with sand, dirt from pile of rotting grass, and some soil we got from the store and put under the original tree. Now that they’ve sprouted, what do I do? I have five sprouts.

November 12, 2009 at 9:55 pm
(93) landscaping says:


The Autumn Tree Care Experts say:

“Few trees can match the refined elegance of a magnolia in spring. The tree’s charm can be dampened by the onset of magnolia scales, though. The less-than-attractive effects of the pest include the presence of a sticky clear liquid (called “honeydew”) oozing along the branches, black sooty mold growing on the tree’s leaves, and wasps and ants congregating around the tree.”

In other words, the ants may be the effect, not the cause. I’d look into the possibility that you have a problem with scale.

November 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm
(94) landscaping says:


Personally, living as I do in zone 5, I would not plant magnolia tree seed sprouts at this time. I’d bring them in for the winter. However, you don’t state where you live (if you live somewhere very warm, that would be a different story).

November 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm
(95) landscaping says:


I think you’re right to feel some concern for your magnolia trees. Having their roots sit in water is hardly ideal. I would consider trying to drain / divert some of the water away from the soil there. One possible way to do this is via a French drain — although it’s difficult if you’re on totally flat ground (to say nothing of trying to dig while there’s standing water).

November 15, 2009 at 1:32 pm
(96) Tina says:

I have a bueautiful ann magnolia that I need to move and was wondering in Texas when would the best time of year be to move this magnolia. Thanks, Tina

November 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm
(97) landscaping says:


The best time to transplant magnolia trees in warm climates is late fall.

November 25, 2009 at 8:08 pm
(98) Becky says:

I just purchased a house in Northeast Ohio with a beautiful magnolia in the front yard. It’s been an unseasonably warm late fall, and as I was putting my Christmas decorations up today, I noticed that my magnolia is budding! Is this normal? The weather is expected to get colder over the next couple days, and I assume the buds will simply die off. Will it harm the buds in the spring? Thanks!

November 27, 2009 at 11:55 am
(99) landscaping says:


If by your magnolia “budding” you mean that you’re seeing objects on the tree that resemble pussy willow catkins, there’s no harm done — those are supposed to be there this time of year. But if you mean that flower petals are actually unfurling from the buds, then yes, those buds are lost for your spring display.

February 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm
(100) David says:

This last winter storm broke off the top half of my magnolia tree. If I give the top half a clean cut can it be made to root and saved. What about the bottom half; will that need any special care to survive? It was about a 25 to 30 tree so the top half is quite large. Please help!

February 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm
(101) landscaping says:


I don’t know about trying to get the top half of the magnolia (the part snapped off) to root, but you should be able to save the bottom half. Make your cut at a 45-degree angle, so it will shed water.

March 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm
(102) Janine says:

I just bought a house in Salem Oregon last summer and have a mystery tree in the back yard. We moved in in summer and all the leaves were gone. It is covered in green moss and has large white patches on the gray bark. Over the last couple of weeks buds have come out that are looking like it is a magnolia. I am afraid it is sick but I have no idea what to do for it.
The buds are over much of the tree and a couple have started to bloom leaves. Do you know if the moss could be hurting the tree? Or if the white patches are harmful? Is it too late to prune it?
Thank you so much!

March 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm
(103) Pamy says:

I live in Irving Tx, 2004 I planted a Southern Magnolia & Dynamite Crape Myrtle Tree in our front yard, which faced east. Well both have not grown more than 3 feet in the 6 years they have been planted. The magnolia has never bloomed, but the crape myrtle has. Please, what do I need to do to get these trees growing and blooming?

March 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm
(104) Gary says:

I live in south NM and I have a D D Blanchard Southern Magnolia, has been in the grown for 3 yrs. It flowered the 1st yr and not since. I was told they are very fast growing, the tree was about 7 ft when it was planted and has not grown an inch since. Any idea’s why it hasn’t?

March 21, 2010 at 5:10 am
(105) amy says:

I planted a Southern Magnolia 3 weeks ago. It is about 5 feet tall. I have cared for it and it seemed to be just fine except it is snowing and sleeting outside right now and I am afraid the freeze will kill the tree. I live in East TX and planted it in red clay, used root stimulator, miracle grow plant food and miracle grow planting soil. Will this freeze and sleet/snow kill this new tree?

March 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm
(106) Jeff says:

I have a 2 year old Southern Magnolia planted in full sun, clay soil. Summers are very dry and hot (sonoma CA) and winters are very wet. I noticed last week that the leaves are turning from green to brown, appear to have a very light powdery look underneath and are curling a bit. The tree is in relatively soggy clay soil in the winter/spring months and very dry clay soil in the summer/fall.

Any chance I’ve drowned the poor thing? Can it be saved?

March 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm
(107) Josh says:

I have a new southern Magnolia that we planted in early March. It is fairly young, only about four feet tall,. the leafs are a light green color but I have started to see black spots showing up on some of the leafs. I have been trying to keep the soil some what moist to to the fact that it was just planted. Also the leafs look a little curled what could the black spots be, and what should I do.

April 7, 2010 at 2:22 pm
(108) New Home Owner Brian says:

I have a new home with great looking Magnolia Trees in the backyard along the driveway. This seems to be a healthy set of magnolias, but they need to be trimmed to clear the driveway. Any trimming advice would be much appreciated.

April 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm
(109) Carole says:

We have a Magnolia tree that is at least 25″ tall & came with the house (upstate New York) when we bought it over two decades ago. We don’t know what type of Magnolia it is. It has always been beautiful blooming. This year hit with a snowstorm that wreaked quite a bit of havoc. We ended up removing some big branches. Most buds and/or flowers have experienced browning this spring. Should we fertilize?

April 14, 2010 at 10:31 am
(110) Petunia says:

I would trim the magnolias a bit like you would trim grass, really straight – you don’t wanna scratches on your car – I had a magnolia in the middle of my driveway when I built my house. I didn’t have the heart to cut it. It is too magnificent! So I left it. It takes a bit of maneuvering to get into my garage but it’s possible to get in. Got to let nature follow its course!

April 15, 2010 at 8:04 am
(111) Kristina says:

We have one magnolia in the backyard of our new home. We dug up the weeds, put potting soil with a three month release of fertilizer around it and planted flowers under it.
Yesterday I noticed a large number of yellow leaves where once there was healthly dark green ones.
Has the addition of this potting soil/fertilizer caused this or are these old leaves that would normally drop off?
What should I do?
Thanks for your comments.

April 15, 2010 at 9:58 am
(112) landscaping says:


I’m going to assume you have a southern magnolia tree. This type of magnolia tree sometimes has its leaves turn yellow, after which they drop off. The phenomenon usually happens in the springtime. I doubt that the application of the slow-release fertilizer was the problem. Yellow leaves on magnolia trees can also signal any of a number of problems:

Water issues (too little or too much)
Winter injury
Lack of essential nutrients

Winter injury in the form of leaves drying out can be avoided by adequate watering in fall.

April 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm
(113) kristen says:

We had a little gem magnolia planted about a yr. and a half ago and it has never looked very good. It seems to be getting worse. The leaves are very sparse, especially the lower half. Alot of branches don’t even have any leaves. Alot of the leaves now have black spots and the tree doesn’t seem to flower. When it was planted I noticed the trunk had a large scrap/gash out of it, could that cause the problems? It also looks like the trunk (halfway up the tree) has light colored, large polka dots on it. We don’t know what to do.

April 25, 2010 at 8:51 pm
(114) LYNN HUDGINS says:

I have a 20 year old magnolia, always blooms. It went through Hurricaine Ike 2 years ago and has been losing leaves since. I feel like it needs something in the fertilizer for nutrients. Can you suggest something that will bring it back to the tree it was before the hurricaine. I didn’t lose any limbs, just sat in salt water for about 4 hours.

April 26, 2010 at 7:28 pm
(115) landscaping says:


Please see my article on soil salinization, which is what you have perhaps suffered from in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

April 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm
(116) landscaping says:

Josh and Kristen,

See post #26 above, regarding the black spots; what you might have is “leaf spot.”

But Kristen, your problem may go beyond leaf spot. It sounds like when you bought your magnolia tree, you got a lemon (of course, not being there, I can’t say for sure). Assuming that you did not simply buy a lemon, you could try to battle the leaf spot (which is a fungus), etc. with a fungicide; inquire about the latter at your local garden center / home improvement store.

April 26, 2010 at 7:54 pm
(117) landscaping says:


Fertilizing is generally not the way to go with an injured magnolia tree (or most any plant that has just been injured, for that matter), although there are, in fact, exceptions, an example of which I point to in my FAQ on brown leaves on magnolia trees. But more generally, follow the advice in Should You Fertilize an Injured Tree?.

April 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm
(118) landscaping says:


I wouldn’t prune your magnolia tree much. Of course, you have to do what you have to do. But just try to minimize the pruning, and keep an eye out afterward for any signs of fungal invasion. For more, please consult When to Prune Magnolia Trees.

April 27, 2010 at 4:27 pm
(119) Eddie & Lana says:

We have three smaller type Magnolia’s and one large dd blanchard magnolia. They are all looking poorly recently with leaves falling off, bear limbs in places and the leaves are turning lighter in color- no more dark green healthy leaves. What should we do?

April 27, 2010 at 6:25 pm
(120) landscaping says:

Eddie and Lana,

I don’t think there’s sufficient reason yet for you to be terribly worried, but I’d keep an eye on it. Please consult my FAQ regarding yellow leaves on Southern magnolia.

April 28, 2010 at 1:59 am
(121) Rachel says:

i live in atlanta, ga and i have a magnolia i planted about 5 years ago. i think it is a dwarf magnolia, but i can’t remember exactly. while it has grown taller quite a bit, it hasn’t really “filled out” much yet. the branches and leaves all still seem rather spindly. but maybe this tree is still young as far as magnolias go? also, it has put out a few blooms each year for about 2 years now, but the flowers fade and die very quickly — sometimes in a day or so. can i do anything to help my tree keep the flowers longer?

April 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm
(122) landscaping says:


About your only chance of having your magnolia tree flowers persist longer is if you can locate your specimen in a somewhat sheltered area. This option, unfortunately, is often unavailable to homeowners.

April 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm
(123) Kotesh says:

We have a Magnolia tree in front of my home (don’t know the age of the tree as we moved in about a year ago). I know this tree was doing great about 3 years ago. Ever since we moved in, we see lot of dry branches, leafs fallen off. When I approached a tree specialist, I was suggested that it needs a trim, so that it would root well and branch well. I did that, but there is not much use. I notice lot of scalp, dry branches, sometimes leafs fall off even now and not much blossom this year. Please suggest any treatment to make it better or I have to cut it down. Thanks.

April 30, 2010 at 5:02 pm
(124) landscaping says:


Sorry, not enough to go on here. Since you do not know how old the tree is, it’s possible that your magnolia tree has simply come to the end of its lifespan. I’ve read that the average lifespan of southern magnolias, for example, is 80 years, while the lifespan of saucer magnolias is 50 years (of course, there are other types of magnolias, too).

May 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm
(125) polina Karayeva says:

We planted magnolia 6 years ago.
It was healthy tree and bloomed every april with light purple-white flowers. Last year we had only a few flowers and not a good leafs. This year is worse. A lot dry branches.
I do not know what happened and what to do.

May 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm
(126) Kim says:

We have a 12ft Southern Magnolia that we had planted a year ago. We live in the Houston area and experienced a long cold winter for the first time in many years. Several days of below freezing temps and a late spring light freeze. Our Magnolia is looking really stressed. It appears to have new leaf blooms coming out all around but it is also dropping just as many yellow leaves. Is something wrong? Do we need to fertilize? I don’t notice any sap, bugs or brown spots. It just doesn’t look good.


May 2, 2010 at 10:50 am
(127) Heather says:

Hello- we planted a southern Magnolia a few years ago in northern Virginia and the first 2 years it only had leaves, no blooms and this past winter was bad with lots of snow and now we have no leaves, many branches seem dead, we can wiggle the trunk and see the root ball move in the ground but we do have some signs of life with little sucker plants growing from the trunk. What should I do or is it dead? Thank you.

May 3, 2010 at 11:26 am
(128) Craig says:

I am in the exactly same boat as Kim (above). Yellow leaves everywhere. I live in Houston.

May 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm
(129) landscaping says:


If by “dry branches” you mean “dead branches,” two possibilities are fungal diseases known as nectria canker and veriticillium wilt. Remove affected branches to prevent the spread of fungus. Fertilize, provide adequate water (but avoid excessive watering), and see if your specimen recovers. If your magnolia tree fails to recover by next year, the problem may have been too great for it to overcome; at which point I would plant a more disease-resistant type of tree.

May 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm
(130) David Beaulieu says:

Craig, Heather and Kim,

Yes, some parts of the southern U.S. had the type of winter in 2009-2010 to which southern magnolia trees are not accustomed, so it’s possible that the winter weather was the source of your problem.

The question then becomes whether there’s any green left in the main part of your specimen (as opposed to the root system, where Heather cites suckering as evidence of life). To ascertain where there might be green underneath the bark (signaling life), take a sharp knife and make a small cut through the bark of your southern magnolia tree branches. Start as high up as you can reach and work your way down (in your search for green).

If all you find is brown (even when you’ve worked all the way down to the trunk), then the main part of the southern magnolia tree is probably dead. If, in your quest for green, you initially find just brown, but then finally discover some green (as you work your way down towards the ground), prune off the branches where you found only brown. Such pruning certainly can’t hurt, since those branches are dead.

In Heather’s case, assuming this southern magnolia tree is not dead, you may wish to stake it, as you say you can wiggle the root ball. Consult the following video for staking tips:

How to Stake a Tree

May 3, 2010 at 9:39 pm
(131) Eileen says:

I have a 60 year old Magnolia tree. I live in NH.
It is just beautiful and huge! but it is in our front yard and now growing into electrical wires. We wanted to prune some branches off but they are very large. How would I do such a job or should I hire a professional?
Thank you!

May 3, 2010 at 10:40 pm
(132) landscaping says:


Definitely hire a professional to prune your magnolia tree. Magnolias don’t “prune well.”

May 5, 2010 at 11:04 am
(133) Conya Barreras says:

We planted a Mag. (around a 9 ft.)and now it appeares to be withering away. We water often. What is going on? New leaves have appeared but now they are going.

Please help.

May 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm
(134) Josh says:

I live in Portland OR and my mother gave me a small Magnolia in a Pot last year. At that time it had leaves, but after this last winter it did not produce leaves or flowers. The branches seem to still be alive but they do not produce leaves. Do you think that it is in shock or dead? Is there still hope? Please help!


May 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm
(135) landscaping says:


See comment #18 above to determine if the branches truly do still have life in them. If they do, you may simply have a long wait on your hands before this magnolia tree (being a small one, I assume) does much of anything.

May 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm
(136) landscaping says:


Both crape myrtle and southern magnolia trees are listed as full-sun trees. You indicate that you have an eastern exposure; such an exposure typically receives less than full sun. This could be the source of your problem.

May 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm
(137) landscaping says:


Neither the moss nor the white patches sound as if they should be a source of great worry. Magnolia trees (if you have to prune them at all — which you often do not) are generally pruned after blooming, so you don’t miss this year’s flowers.

May 8, 2010 at 5:14 pm
(138) landscaping says:


Poor drainage is a huge issue for southern magnolia trees. So yes, there’s a good chance that you have drowned it. Sorry!

May 12, 2010 at 4:18 pm
(139) Chris says:

I have purchased a teddy bear magnolia tree but just realized that our soil has a lot of clay. Will this present a problem

May 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm
(140) landscaping says:


Yes. Magnolia trees (like the majority of plants) prefer a well-drained soil, and part of magnolia tree care, if you have a clay soil, is finding ways to improve soil drainage. For ideas, browse the comments already posted above.

May 15, 2010 at 7:02 am
(141) Anna says:

I had a magnolia (3 feet) at the back of my house. I want to move to front of my garden. Is this be best of this time in May to move? Can you give advise please. Someone said wait till October or November not this time to move magnolia. Thanks so much.

May 15, 2010 at 9:32 am
(142) landscaping says:


Yes, I’d wait till the fall. No sense in subjecting your transplanted magnolia tree to the heat of the summer.

May 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm
(143) JAN RAS says:

I have a yellow magnolia tree and it only bloomed one yellow flower last year. This year we had a frost late in May now my tree leaves are turning brown and dropping off. What can I do.

May 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm
(144) landscaping says:


Please see brown leaves on magnolias.

May 23, 2010 at 5:00 pm
(145) bob says:

we are currently taking care of our magnolia tree in our backyard and want to know if cutting off the bottom branches will help it to grow or only make it worse. yes or no?

May 23, 2010 at 5:17 pm
(146) landscaping says:


Personally, pruning doesn’t have much place in my magnolia tree care regimen. Pruning generally won’t generate as much growth as it will in plants particularly amenable to pruning; worse, it’s easy to spoil the beauty of their natural shape.

June 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm
(147) Lissa says:

We just bought a house in Massachusetts with a very large magnolia tree (it looks like a saucer magnolia) in the front yard. People in this area tell us the tree is at least 40 years old. It has to be at least 20 feet high. We love it! However, the tree at some points is now touching our house and certainly needs to be pruned. I have read NEVER to prune a magnolia tree but we must do it before the branches enter our windows!

How can I prune back the branches without hurting our beautiful magnolia tree?

June 1, 2010 at 3:33 pm
(148) landscaping says:


As you probably suspect, there is no good answer here. Obviously, your house comes first. All I can say is trim your magnolia as little as you have to (just after blooming, ideally), even if it means having to re-trim later.

June 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm
(149) Jessica says:

We just bought a house and from one of the local nursery’s purchased a 5 foot magnolia tree. We planted in our backyard which gets a lot of sun, in soil that is rich in clay. We also added some root solution the nursery suggested and some fertilized soil. We are in Wisconsin and planted at the end of April after a run of some early warm weather, but then got some hard frosts in early May. When we bought the tree it had a good amount of blooms and lots of buds….but now I see no buds, and no leaves. Just a couple dried up ones….will it take awhile for the tree to come back or is it dying???

June 5, 2010 at 10:25 am
(150) tj says:

planted a magnolia tree last spring, it has been great. after this winter i have noticed a black mold on the bark and leaves. i have washed the leaves off about 2 months ago but they are starting to turn black again. any help

June 6, 2010 at 6:49 am
(151) Jeannie says:

I live in NH and purchased my 1st magnolia tree 2 yrs ago. It was about 3ft when I bought it and it did bloom. Last fall, we moved it as it was too close to our pool. It “had” buds on it a few weeks ago but has done nothing since. I have checked the branches and they are pliable and don’t appear to be dead. What’s wrong with my tree????

June 7, 2010 at 11:09 am
(152) Mary says:

Our magnolia is about four years old. It has never had blossoms. The leaves are pale green. I notice other magnolias have the nice dark grren leaves with large blooms, so I don’t think it’s a regional thing. Help!

June 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm
(153) Jane manahan says:

I have a Magnolia tree that was in the yard when I moved here about 5 years ago. It is an “old” tree and it looked really sad. It had a grayish green bushy fungus on many of its branches. I had no idea what type it is or how to bring it back so I pulled off a much as I could then sprayed the entire tree until it looked better. It has bloomed every year since. But…. this year I have noticed the bushy little gray, dull green puffs (some the size of cotton balls others tennis balls) are back! I live in Southern Rhode Island and do nothing to this tree ie watering, pruning etc. It stands in my front yard and is surrounded by a flowering garden. Entire front yard is a flower gardes with a couple of small trees. Any ideas???

June 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm
(154) landscaping says:


What you’re describing sounds more like a reindeer lichen than a problematic fungus. Lichens are not really an issue in magnolia tree care, as far as I know, so I wouldn’t worry as long as your plants aren’t showing any signs of performing poorly.

June 10, 2010 at 9:13 am
(155) Ivy says:

My tree leaves were impacted by the cold spell in GA this year. All the leaves turned brown. I was told to let the tree stay. My landscaper stated the trunk was still green. Over the past week or so, I noticed that new leaves are growing. I was told that you are not supposed to prune a magnolia tree. However, since the tree is now producing new leaves, should I remove ALL dead limbs to ensure this does not deter new growth? This is not really pruning since the leaves and branches are dead. Some of the branches are no longer green and easily snap off. What would you recommend?

June 10, 2010 at 9:19 am
(156) Ivy says:

(Updated) My magnolia tree was planted 4 years ago and it stands about 10’ tall and 3’ wide. I am unsure about the type of magnolia but it’s is supposed to be a dwarf magnolia. The leaves were impacted by the cold spell in GA this year. All the leaves turned brown. I was told to let the tree stay. My landscaper stated the trunk was still green. Over the past week or so, I noticed that new leaves are growing. I was told that you are not supposed to prune a magnolia tree. However, since the tree is now producing new leaves, should I remove ALL dead limbs to ensure this does not deter new growth? This is not really pruning since the leaves and branches are dead. Some of the branches are no longer green and easily snap off. What would you recommend?

June 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm
(157) Pete Landis says:

I have heard that Murphys Oil soap works wonders on Aphid and Fungal infestations on a Magnolia Tree as long as it is properly diluted. What does properly diluted mean…according to the instructions on the bottle? It says 98% Natural, so I assume only the fragrance is artificial – but I was told it is a combination of the smell and oil/soap qualities that kills off and detracts Aphids from the tree. Any information would be helpful because the tree is in the courtyard patio of the restaurant I manage and this year it has been dripping sap on 2 tables below. We don’t want to use any pesticides because we are a restaurant and need to be seating the surrounding area every day. I think if we spray/hose it down with a mix of Murphy’s Oil Soap at night when we close that it will be dry the next morning and the sap underneath on the iron furniture will be consequently cleaned of the sticky sap as well. Should I just get a carwash siphon or fertilizer attachment for my hose and feel the Murphy’s in that way, and if so – do I dilute it first before adding it to the container?

June 21, 2010 at 10:49 am
(158) Steven says:

Hi David!
We live in Niagara, Ontario, Canada. We planted a Southern Magnolia last spring in a secluded area of our yard where it is protected from winter winds, etc. It came with a notice stating “not guaranteed for Niagara region”, but the seller has several in his yard and they are ‘thriving’. It made it through the winter, has glossy, green leaves….we were extremely excited to see five huge blooms. Yesterday the first of the blooms finally opened on a hot, humid sunny day.. and much to our dismay, the petals of the flower were covered with large brown blotches and the stamens crumbled to the touch! There doesn’t seem to be any information on this…can you shed any light on this? Thank you….

June 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm
(159) landscaping says:


I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the source of the problem for your southern magnolia tree were frost. Flower buds are very delicate, and sometimes frost damage on a plant isn’t apparent at all — until the flower buds open. Then the ravages of winter rear their ugly heads! Frost is also erratic, which could explain why the other guy’s southern magnolias are fine.

June 22, 2010 at 6:34 pm
(160) landscaping says:


Please see brown leaves on magnolias.

June 22, 2010 at 6:40 pm
(161) landscaping says:


You might possibly have something known in the magnolia tree care literature as “leaf spot.” Leaf spot is a fungus and thus exacerbated by wet conditions. Leaf spot isn’t supposed to be a major problem, from what I’ve read. The typical advice is to rake up and properly dispose of the leaves containing the leaf spot, so the fungus doesn’t spread. If you want to take your magnolia tree care beyond that, you could inquire about a spray for this type of fungus at your garden center.

June 30, 2010 at 8:10 am
(162) Bruce says:

I have a Magnolia tree and the leaves are moist yet shriveled and these long seed like pods are growing. The flowers died off early and then the leavse shriveleed and these pods formed. Is this normal?

July 1, 2010 at 9:51 pm
(163) Kimberly says:

Can other trees get the Magnolia Scale bug?

July 2, 2010 at 11:43 am
(164) landscaping says:


Many plants are infested by scale; it is not a magnolia-specific pest.

July 4, 2010 at 9:23 pm
(165) lynn says:

is it ok to remove the pods once my magnolia is finished blooming

July 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm
(166) David Beaulieu says:


I’m not aware of pod removal being an issue in magnolia tree care — you should be OK doing that.

July 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm
(167) Russell says:

Can you prune the bottom limbs on a DD BLANCHARD MAGNOLIA? I have one that is about 15 feet tall and the bottom limbs are only a foot off of the ground.

July 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm
(168) Nicole says:

We have a Magnolia tree that is completely infested with scale. This tree is so big it overlooks several bushes and perennials as well as our brick paver walkway. It is such a mess with the sap, bees, ants and mold growing on the other plants. We were told that we should have it treated and it would take at least 3 treatments and it might not even help. I’m wondering what are the odds of the tree surviving this scale or should we cut it down and replant. I’m also concerned about the damage that could be happening to the other plants and bushes that have the sap leaking on them and are getting moldy. Any Advice?

July 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm
(169) Alex says:

A large branch broke from our magnolia. Can we save it so that we can replant it somewhere else?

July 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm
(170) landscaping says:

>”I’m wondering what are the odds of the tree surviving this scale or should we cut it down and replant.”

Sorry, Nicole, I never play “odds maker” — there are just too many variables in play. But regarding your other question about “the damage that could be happening to the other plants and bushes that have the sap leaking on them and are getting moldy,” I will confirm that your magnolia tree problem is definitely putting your other plants at risk.

If it were my magnolia tree, I would carefully weigh the inconvenience and expense of the recommended “3 treatments” versus the loss you’ll suffer in removing the specimen. But clearly, the potential damage to surrounding plants (in the absence of any action on your part) argues that you will have to choose between the lesser of those 2 evils.

July 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm
(171) Beth Bivens says:

My Magnolia tree has been diagnosed with scale. Despite spraying last year with Ortho Systemic weed killer and Fungi-Oil the tree still has black sooty branches and sporadic leaf development. At this point I am afraid there is not much hope for it. The tree is in the landscape in the front of our home. When we take this tree out will it be safe to plant a different tree in it’s place or will I have to treat the soil and perhaps the other bushes and flowers in the adjoining landscape?

July 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm
(172) Lori says:

We live in the Springfield, Il area and our Magnolia tree leaves are turning black, then brown, and then falling of the tree. The limbs the leaves are on are also turning black.

We have had problems with the Asian beatles hatching on the tree in the past, but we have never had the leaves turn black. The tree bloomed this year and looked great. What could be the problem? Are we loosing our tree for good? It is over 30 years old

July 27, 2010 at 11:59 am
(173) landscaping says:


I would skip a year before planting, just to be on the safe side. When you do plant, monitor the specimen closely for any problems — and offer treatment promptly if you do find any. Most problems of this sort are very manageable if caught early on.

July 27, 2010 at 12:05 pm
(174) landscaping says:


Sounds like your magnolia tree is suffering from sooty mold caused by scale (the beetles probably didn’t help, but I don’t think they’re the root cause behind the blackened leaves and leaf drop you’re experiencing). Click the link offered above in post 87 for more information about sooty mold and magnolia tree care.

August 18, 2010 at 12:23 am
(175) Zoi says:

just cut all the branches of my 25 foot tree, for 3 years now fighting scales,they were winning, the black stuff all over the place, bees, fly, ants couldn’t take it anymore.. what are the chances of it growing back new growth , or should I just take it out.. I left about 6 feet of leafless trunks.. and should I be worried about the bugs going els were or do they just stick to magnolia trees.. thanks much for any advice you can give..

August 18, 2010 at 8:45 am
(176) landscaping says:


I never comment on the “chances” of a plant returning to health (too many variables to predict), but I *will* comment on your concern regarding the scale ending up on other plants. According to the Ohio State University Extension, magnolia scale can also be a problem for daphne and Virginia creeper.

September 5, 2010 at 7:23 am
(177) John says:

I just planted a four feet tall sweetbay magnolia in my backyard, but am now wondering if I should have choosen another type of magnolia. I live on the top of a hill in Philadelphia, and I’ve been told sweetbays grow in wet/swampy soil. My question is: Will my sweetbay do okay where it is, or should I get a magnolia that does not require so much water?

April 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm
(178) landscaping says:


I agree with your assessment. Because of its water requirements, it does seem that you’re inviting extra work for yourself (in the form of having to water a lot) by trying to grow sweetbay magnolia in a site to which it is ill-suited. Star magnolia tree, for example, would be a better bet.

September 5, 2010 at 11:46 pm
(179) Deloris says:

We have two magnolia trees planted at the corners of our front exterior. They were part of the landscaping when the house was built so I’m not sure how big they are going to get. The house is only a year and 8 months and the trees are already at least 5 ft. My concern is that I’ve heard magnolias can cause a problem if planted close to the home (i.e. foundation cracks and such). Should we move them now while they are still immature or would the contractor plant trees that would not be of concern for the foundation and we can leave them where they are?

April 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm
(180) landscaping says:


As to whether the contractor would have planted something that “would not be of concern for the foundation,” I think that varies too much from contractor to contractor for us to make an assumption one way or another. In general, if you have to plant a tree near a foundation, it’s better to select a small tree (you do not state what type of magnolia tree you have). But any plant can, at the very least, be a source of inconvenience if planted too near to a house. When homeowners have any doubts (such as the doubt you expressed), I usually recommend that they remove the tree in question. The piece of mind is worth it.

September 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm
(181) Kim says:

I transplanted a Magnolia tree (about 6 ft)and it looked great for about a month. Now all the leaves have turned brown and are falling off. I live in Florida and I have been watering it everyday due to transplanting it. Should I cut it back or just leave it alone. Any suggestions would be helpfull

April 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm
(182) landscaping says:


Considering the time of year you transplanted and where you live (Florida), it was probably stressed out. In a case like this, cutting back a plant usually doesn’t help. I’d just chalk it up as a lesson learned: namely, that you’re better off transplanting in late fall. Sorry I couldn’t have been of more help.

September 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm
(183) Carrie says:

I have a tulip magnolia that must be about 25 years old. It was there when we bought our house 20 years ago. It has been spectacular with hundreds of blooms every year and wonderful dark green leaves. This year, the blooms and leaves were sparse. The leaves weren’t as green and many have a yellowish look to them. There are some branches w/ no leaves, but you can see they are not dead when you scrape them. I live in Massachusetts. Winters can vary from okay to miserably cold — summers can vary from cool to miserably hot. So in 25 years the tree has thrived in all kinds of weather. Any thoughts? Can magnolias have off years (kind of like our Red Sox).

April 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm
(184) landscaping says:


Very astute of you to suggest that your tulip magnolia simply may have had an off-year. Weather is obviously not something our gentle-giant friends have any control over, yet it can make or break their displays any given year. The baseball analogy is apt. The Red Sox suffered an inordinate number of injuries in 2010 — something totally beyond a team’s control — and that couldn’t help but negatively impact their performance. My approach toward your specimen would be, “Wait till next year!”

October 1, 2010 at 10:06 am
(185) Melissa says:

I have a 9 foot magnolia tree in Wisconsin. Last year we think that it had some frost damage. A lower branch was dead and we removed it. Now, that side is bare and has ~3 feet with out branches in comparison to the other side that has 2 bigger branches with lots of leaves. It looks very uneven now. Is there anyway to promote branch growth in Magnolia trees so that the bare side has a couple branches? And, if not, would you recommend trimming the one side so that it looks more even? If I would trim that side, it would take ~30-40% of the leaves.

Also, the lowest branch on the tree is probably 4 ft from the ground. On a normal Magnolia would you recommend trimming that so the lowest branch is higher? Thank you so much for your help!

April 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm
(186) landscaping says:


Magnolias are not among the trees most amenable to pruning, and I would not count on pruning to regenerate limbs on the bare side. And losing 30-40% of your leaves sounds harsh. Personally, I would leave it alone and convince myself that its unevenness “gives it character.”

October 7, 2010 at 4:50 am
(187) Alpaslan says:

in my garden, Magnolia grandiflora, leaf curls.Any disease or insect, red spider does not.What is the reason.
Alpaslan ÜLKÜ

April 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm
(188) landscaping says:


Leaf curl can also be caused from insufficient irrigation. Your grandiflora may be drying out, thereby putting stress on it. Check the soil to see if it’s getting adequate water; if not, water more.

October 13, 2010 at 2:09 pm
(189) Jillian says:

Hi, I just planted a ten foot southern magnolia in my front yard , its beautfiul and seems to be doing well. I planted it about 7 weeks ago and now we are heading into slightly cooler weather and less rain, how often should I water it? I planted it according to instructions with root stimulator etc, I dont wnant to over water it, I just want it strong for the winter . Help!


April 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm
(190) landscaping says:


Although one can address why and when to water trees in fall, I cannot recommend a precise amount of water, because conditions dictate irrigation requirements, including the type of soil you have. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another: Everyone’s case is unique. The best one can do is to try to “read” one’s soil. By that, I mean explore the soil where your southern magnolia tree is after watering and try to determine if it’s evenly moist (which is what you want) several inches down into the ground. If it’s not, water some more, because what you want to do when you water is to water deeply, then let the soil dry out again. When it’s dry again, that’s when you know you should give it another watering.

October 14, 2010 at 10:44 pm
(191) Hope says:

We have a mature magnolia in our yard that appears healthy, but a large chunk of bark is coming off the main part of the trunk. Should I be concerned or is this typical for mature magnolias? (I don’t remember this happening in past years)

April 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm
(192) landscaping says:


You might want to check into the possibility that the bark is peeling off due to canker, which is caused by a fungus. The canker can make the bark peel away from the trunk. I would take a picture of the injured section of your mature magnolia tree and bring the picture in to a garden center. Ask them if it could be canker. If they confirm that it’s probably canker, you could try cutting away the diseased wood. However, as Steve Nix notes here, “If a large canker is on the main trunk, the tree may need to be replaced.” So I’m sorry to say that, in your case, if the problem is canker, your specimen may die.

November 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm
(193) jenn says:

i have a 1 year old magnolia (not sure what type), but it was blossoming well and this past 6 months i’ve noticed a black mold (did some research and found it to be sooty mold)..what is the best way to treat.. we also have wasps, bees and ants crawling all over them..we live in myrtle beach sc, with full sun and well watered..any help is appreciated!!

April 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm
(194) landscaping says:


Please see my FAQ on sooty mold on magnolia trees.

January 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm
(195) Mary says:

When we bought our property 2 years ago, we had all kinds of ovegrown shrubs. In his zeal to get everything under control, my husband cut down a “shrub” with 3 trunks. It has now grown back up from the trunks and bloomed profusely last spring. It was then that I realized that it is a saucer, or tulip, Magnolia. My husband has rounded it off as a low shrub. My question is, should I trim back the branches to one or two in order to allow it to grow tall, or should I keep it trimmed to a small size? When should I trim it? It is currently covered with buds and will bloom in February.

February 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm
(196) landscaping says:


Some people fight a saucer magnolia tree’s tendency to produce multiple stems through pruning so as to favor one, dominant trunk. Such drastic pruning may be done while the tree is still young. You may also shape the crown in later years by pruning lightly after the flowering period.

January 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm
(197) Cathy says:

Hi, we have two young Southern Magnolias that were planted in our yard when we moved into our new construction home. Our lab puppy has broken off the lower branches on each. Is there any hope in these branches growing back?

April 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm
(198) landscaping says:

When people lose the lower branches on southern magnolia trees, they usually don’t grow back, from what I hear.

March 22, 2011 at 7:16 am
(199) Vicki says:

I have a Teddy Bear southern magnolia purchased about a year ago. I live in Texas with clay soil. The leaves are not deep green. They have turned more of a lime green. Some are yellowing and falling off. Also some have holes. There is no indication of insects on the tree.
Any suggestions?

March 25, 2011 at 8:54 am
(200) landscaping says:


Southern magnolia tree foliage will turn that yellowish color as a prelude to shedding. Such shedding will happen every few years, mainly in the spring. But it’s also possible the yellowing leaves are a sign of excessive water retention in the soil, which will happen in clay. As for the holes, woodpeckers are a possibility.

March 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm
(201) Stacy thomas says:

I have a magnolia tree and I heard that they like Epson salt is this true?

March 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm
(202) landscaping says:

Yes, I have heard of people using Epsom salts to fertilize their magnolia trees after blooming. The Epsom salts are supposed to help them set flower buds for next year, based on what I’ve heard.

March 24, 2011 at 2:46 am
(203) Stacy thomas says:

Thank you for answering my question about the Epsom salt that helped me a great deal, but I do have one more question do you know how much I put on it and how often do I do this? thanks again for you help.

March 24, 2011 at 9:20 am
(204) landscaping says:


According to the Epsom Salts Council, for trees, you would use “2 tablespoons per 9 square feet.” They suggest doing so three times a year.

April 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm
(205) sue says:

I have a magnolia tree my husband bought me variety “susan” It has beautiful purple blooms the trouble is although its growing perfectly well its being eaten alive by bugs what I’m not sure but they devour the tree the crux of the matter we only grow organically so bug sprays etc are out of the question any advice ?

April 5, 2011 at 10:19 am
(206) landscaping says:


Without knowing more about the bugs in question, the only thing I could recommend that you look into, given your organic preference, is neem oil.

April 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm
(207) tom says:

I have a magnolia tree that is loosing all its leaves. It is very sandy here and I was watering it 15 minutes a day. When that didn’t help I increased it to 20 minutes a day, but that doesn’t look like it is helping. Am I overwatering?

April 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm
(208) David Beaulieu says:


Without knowing more, yes, I would have to go with overwatering as the reason for its losing its leaves.

April 20, 2011 at 7:22 pm
(209) Susan says:

We inherited a house with two beautiful old magnolias, probably 40+ years old. They have had no care in the past few years and they now have lots of “volunteer” magnolias growing underneath. We would like to clear these out but don’t want to damage the original trees. Would it be dangerous to the original trees if we went in and cut the smaller trees off at the ground?

April 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm
(210) landscaping says:


Cutting the young magnolias off at the ground shouldn’t harm the old magnolias. Just don’t disturb the roots of the old ones.

April 22, 2011 at 7:45 am
(211) Marna says:

Why is it that sometimes a magnolia tree will bud up, but then those buds don’t open, so the plant fails to flower? I know some years it can be because of a killing frost. But other years, my neighbors’ magnolias flower but mine (in spite of the development of flower buds) do not. In those years, it doesn’t seem frost would be the source of the problem. Is there something that can be done about this (question altered for editorial purposes – ed.)?

April 22, 2011 at 8:00 am
(212) landscaping says:


Frost could still be the issue, as I explain in my piece on possible reasons why magnolia buds don’t open. I also relate there a potential bug problem you might wish to look into.

April 22, 2011 at 9:06 am
(213) Marna says:

We have not had a frost since the blooms started to emerge. And none of the buds are opening, they are deep pink and closed tightly.

April 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm
(214) Garfield says:

When my brother in law was married, my mother in law had a landscaper and plant a few magnolia trees. It turned out beautifully!

April 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm
(215) Susan says:

We planted a teddy bear magnolia about 7-8 years ago and it grew in height to about 8 feet, but is has never expanded in width. It blooms about once a year but the blooms are short lived. Any suggestions? We live in central Oklahoma.

April 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm
(216) landscaping says:


For such a plant, 7-8 years is not a long time. If your Teddy Bear “has it in it” to gain in width, this may not happen for a few more years. As to blooms not lasting long, that’s subject to too many environmental factors to hazard a guess as to the cause.

May 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm
(217) Eric says:


I live in Oklahoma City. We are in the second year of a new house where we have a young magnolia tree in our front yard. It has developed some spotting and lost several leaves. There have been dry season with severe winds in OK this year. Our neighbor said to put some bone meal on the roots. Should we? I am not sure the type of tree but I have attached a picture in the link below. Thanks!


May 3, 2011 at 11:57 am
(218) landscaping says:


You may have “leaf spot.” This disease is a fungus and reputedly isn’t a major concern. Make sure you rake up and properly dispose of the affected leaves, so the fungus doesn’t spread. Since fungus thrives in moist, humid conditions, avoid overhead watering provide good air circulation around your magnolia tree (e.g., if you have another plant growing close to it, consider transplanting).

May 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm
(219) KarenYost says:

I have wonderful memories growing up with a Saucer Magnolia in my Grandmother’s yard in Indiana. All my time at her house was spent sitting under that tree and reading etc… We moved into our own house 5 years ago and I have been trying to get a Magnolia to grow ever since. The problem is that when we moved into our house there was a star Magnolia in the back yard that the previous owner had obviously cut down over and over again and there wasn’t much left alive so eventually I dug it up. I planted another magnolia (Jane) and it grew well the first year except for brown patches all over the leaves. The second year was horrible. We had a late frost and it froze half of the buds. That half of tree didn’t have any flowers this Spring so I cut the limbs off…..was that a mistake, would it have come back the next year? The other half is very healthy however. I fertilized with 30-10-10 mixture as I never fertilized before.

My point is that I am worried that I will have the same problem the previous owner had…..cutting year after year until there is nothing left. How can I get this tree to thrive? As I said, I fertilized today; it was the first time I ever did that. Today (Mother’s Day) I bought a Saucer Magnolia for another spot in the yard…hoping it will do well. Is it my soil that is making these trees fail to thrive or what? Please help! Thanks!

May 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm
(220) KarenYost says:

One more question…I once overheard my Grandmother say that she threw her old coffee grounds out on the ground around her magnolias every day and that this is why her Magnolia grew so well. Could this be true? How do I do this? If I do this, can I use MiracleGro also or in place of MiracleGro? What are your thoughts?

May 17, 2011 at 11:49 am
(221) landscaping says:


As long as you’re following the guidelines for magnolia tree care supplied in my article on saucer magnolias and you have a reasonably fertile soil, there’s no reason that, with a little patience, you shouldn’t be able to grow saucer and your Jane successfully. Yes, cutting off those limbs was probably a mistake but will only disfigure the plant, not kill it.

Regarding the coffee grounds, since most magnolias like a slightly acidic soil, some people with too alkaline soil spread coffee grounds around them to acidify the soil a bit. Unless you have a test done to determine your soil pH and find that this is your problem, I wouldn’t apply the coffee grounds directly. Instead, I would compost the coffee grounds, then use that compost, when it’s ready.

May 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm
(222) Jenna says:

How do I find out what kind of Magnoila I have? We bought a new house and they planted one in our front yard but did not leave the tag for the tree nor did they tell us what kind it was.

May 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm
(223) landscaping says:


I would snap some closeup photos of it (i.e., closeups of the flowers, leaves, bark, etc.), plus another photo showing what the overall tree looks like, and then bring those magnolia photos to a local garden center to see if they can identify the type. I say “local garden center” because it may well be a type of magnolia that’s commonly planted in your area, so those folks would have the best chance of being able to identify it.

May 21, 2011 at 11:21 am
(224) Beverly says:

I have a magnolia that is only 4 ft. tall, and is getting less and less sun because of hemlocks and a maple tree near by. I can trim the hemlocks back but the maple is in a neighbor’s yard.

This magnolia was planted by a previous homeowner in a planter box about 10′ X 15′. It was larger but almost died after heaving snows 2 winters ago. (I am guessing too much water.)

What else can I do to help this tree come back?

May 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm
(225) landscaping says:


Sorry, but, short of transplanting, there’s not much more you can do if the magnolia tree is suffering from lack of sunshine in this planter box.

May 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm
(226) Niagara says:

Hey David,

I live in the Niagara Region in Ontario. The Escarpment there provides us with a Carolinian rainforest. I’m curious to know if a DD Blanchard will do well in this climate as winters can still be tough. An employee at the local greenhouse said that she wraps hers in burlap over the winter months to protect it from frost and suggested doing so for the first few years. Could this help the tree establish itself in this climate?


May 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm
(227) landscaping says:

Hi Niagara,

Certainly possible. You can do wonders in a microclimate, so I would trust the opinion of the employee at the local greenhouse on this one, since it's a highly local issue.

May 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm
(228) al guippone says:

live in cental n.j. have a 6 yr old magnolia, don’t know the type, has grown and bloomed all the time. approx 8 feet tall and after flowering this year 3/4 of the trees leaves are shiveling up and the other 1/4 are perfect. is this a fungus ?

May 31, 2011 at 6:27 am
(229) landscaping says:


Leaf curl on magnolia trees can be the result of their not getting sufficient water, which puts them under stress. Inspect the soil under the surface to see if it’s evenly moist; if not, irrigate more than you do currently.

May 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm
(230) Rebecc says:

Hi, this thread is really helpful, I have learned a lot by reading your comments over the years.

My magnolia tree is 60 years old. It is a Southern Mag and I live in Richmond VA. The roots had gotten into my water main and broke it last November and I had to have a new water main run through the front yard. They trenched as far away from the tree as possible to lay the new water line but it was only about 10 feet away from the trunk because of where the sidewalk lay in the yard.

It stayed green all winter and I can see new leaves sprouting from various areas as well as blooms all over. A handful of buds have opened. However I think there are 3 times as many leaves that have turned brown and fallen so far. There are so many leaves. I don’t recall this many before, ever, having fallen. Every day the ground under is covered again, and they have been falling at least 4 if not 6 weeks. I see many more yellow leaves getting ready to fall. I have been in this house 7 years. The tree is 30 feet tall. Initially I saw only brown and yellow leaves falling but now they seem to be yellow spotted with brown. I see your posts about a brown spotted fungus but the root system being sliced through on 2 sides 10 feet from the house seems to me to be the more likely culprit of distress.

I have had the hose on a trickle all day, thinking maybe the extreme heat we have had lately (upper 90′s already) is making the stress worse. But now I see that this can be bad also.

I have never fertilized or watered this tree. It is in full sun all day long. It is the tallest thing around. I love the tree! It is the nicest thing about my lot. Is there anything that can be done to reduce the stress the tree must certainly be under trying to rebuild the root system or get enough water / nutrients since it is cut short.

Thank you so much.


May 31, 2011 at 6:22 am
(231) landscaping says:


On a magnolia tree this size, I would have to say no, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to minimize the stress. For a smaller tree, I would suggest some shade cloth, but your specimen is too big for that. I think you’ve diagnosed the problem correctly. I regret to say that you’re reduced to relying on luck and patience as “solutions,” however.

June 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm
(232) anthony says:

My tree is around 8 feet tall 2 years old , has only ever given me one flower thats open , plenty of buds but they fall before opening , i need more flowers what to do please.

June 23, 2011 at 5:22 pm
(233) Newton says:

I planted a magnolia in the spring of 2010.

During the winter rodents girdled the trunk about 1 inch above the ground.

This spring it started to leaf out but then because of the rodent damage the original trunk died.

Now after about 6 weeks of dormancy, shoots are coming up from below ground and also one sprout is appearing on the original trunk below the damaged area.

Does anyone know whether the shoots will bear the same flowers that the original plant produced?

June 30, 2011 at 7:51 am
(234) landscaping says:


It might be helpful here for us to know the exact type of magnolia tree you have. If someone else has grown that type and has had a similar experience, they may be able to answer your question.

June 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm
(235) Charlene says:

My Magnolia tree loses it’s leaves year round and makes a mess and a lot of work. Why does it lose its leaves?

June 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm
(236) landscaping says:


It’s not necessarily abnormal for some magnolia trees to shed their leaves nearly year-round. I know it’s inconvenient to clean up the mess. But you have the consolation of knowing that, compared to the problems posted above by others, your problem is relatively minor — your specimen, I assume, is healthy, at least.

June 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm
(237) Anne says:

We bought a home in SE Texas a few months ago that has several older Magnolia trees. One is beautiful, it gets sun and shade. One, my husband “trimmed” a forked branch off…now it seems to be in shock. It bloomed alot this spring, but now is shedding. The last is horrible. It has a big rot spot in the trunk and looks like the previous owners had wire tied around the trunk. (there is a big cut) My question….the one my husband trimmed, do you think that it will be ok? The last is doomed to come down.

June 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm
(238) landscaping says:


It’s too soon to tell whether your magnolia tree will be OK. Since you live in Texas (I’m assuming summers are very hot there), it’s quite possible that a shocked plant won’t make it through the summer. You simply may not know until next spring rolls around. Sorry I can’t say anything more encouraging (or more definite) than that.

June 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm
(239) Barb Wickham says:

I have a large Magnolia tree that was struck by lightning a few years back (Wisconsin) and the last couple of years it has been dying. This year we had no flowers and about a dozen leaves – so we cut it down. There is about 2 1/2 ft of trunk left. It is now growing like crazy from the base and edges. Will this grow into a nice tree or will it be an ugly old root stock tree? I hate to have the stump removed if it can be at all saved.
Any help will be appreciated.
Thanks !

June 30, 2011 at 7:54 am
(240) landscaping says:


See my reply above to Newton. With questions of this sort, it becomes more imperative than ever to specify the particular type of magnolia tree you grow. That way, someone out there in the audience who has shared a similar experience may be able to respond.

June 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm
(241) heather grosset says:

i have a magnolia tree that bloomed last year… not much but maybe 5.. it is 8 years old..this year it got taller and wider.. and not one flower.. and with that said we had alot of rain and very few hours of sunlight….. do they need more sunlight.. or just light….. they r very fussy..lolthey say apple juice is good for them.. what is the best food for this fussy tree?.. thank u so much.. heather.. from canada.. nova scotia… we had no frost to kill the buds… so it is not that.. i need help..ty

July 1, 2011 at 10:17 am
(242) landscaping says:


There’s a “TreeHelp Premium Fertilizer” for magnolia trees. Not sure how readily available it is in stores.

July 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm
(243) Bob says:

I live in central wis and have 5 magnolia grandiflorias 3 “little gem ” and 2 “baby grand” I keep them in a cool greenhouse during the cold months and summer them outside in a sunny wind protected area . the trunk size varies from 1 to 2 inches and they are in 20 and 30 gallon plastic tree pots. I purchased them from california and had them shipped via U.P.S. I have been thoroughly pleased with them. The little gem blooms from may into november, then goes dormant during the dark days of nov-jan, the baby grands go into dormancy in sept but start to bloom earlier mar-august.contrary to conventional wisdom I had to prune them heavily due to a late frost that nipped most of the new growth, but the flower buds were still okay. i also prune every flower after blooming and now I am rewarded with very bushy and compact growth(quite vigorous) I also fertilize in spring thru mid-july depending on how much rainfall leaching occurs. I use 30-10-10 and 20-20-20 alternately I also pruned them in early july and I still had many flowers this spring and summer. They are some of the best greenhouse plants I’ve ever had and virtually pest free. I would recommend the dwarf varieties to anyone in northern climates with a greenhouse. Availability is an issue as none of the local or regional have “Magnolia Grandifolia” or have ever heard of them. Personally I like “Baby Grand” best of all and obtained from Monrovia via Clifton’s in Porterville California at http://www.buyplantsonline.com.

July 24, 2011 at 1:14 am
(244) Chris says:

Hi, my question is can a magnolia bloom in late July? I planted a so called “Jane Magnolia” on mothers day and it wasn’t doing to well(lots of leaf scorch). Its in full sun from dawn to dusk. So I added a couple more inches of mulch and started watering almost daily. It now looks much better especially at the tips, the tips are very green and even looks as though it’s blooming at a few tips! However they are White buds! I was under the impression that Jane’s had purple blooms. Do you think I got duped, it had no tags, but the owner of the nursery gave me his word that it was a Jane. Also what should I do with the burnt leaves that cover 90% of the tree, should I wait till fall then cut them off or just leave them? Thank you for any info you can share.

July 24, 2011 at 1:25 am
(245) Chris says:

If it helps I live in Central New Jersey

July 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm
(246) landscaping says:


My own Jane magnolia in the past has furnished a second blooming period (fewer blooms, though) in July. Here is a picture of Jane magnolia, from my yard. As you can see, there is some white in the flower. The area covered by the whitish will expand as the bloom ages. In sunny conditions, the color of the blossom can be an even lighter color. Then again, I can’t deny the possibility of your having been duped.

August 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm
(247) Brenda says:

Hello …
We planted a beautiful cream magnolia as part of a gardening project. It was supported during the first few years with a wooden stake. This was removed too soon in my opinion and now the trees bends significantly. Wind direction only adds to the problem and with a hard rain and wind in the past few days one of the leader branches was torn from the tree. It is growing quickly and my question is what is the best way to now correct the leaning problem. Should it be topped to where the straight strong portion of the trunk is or could it be staked now with strong supports.
Not a tree expert here ….
This is going to be a very tall tree but will be U-shaped soon if something isn’t done. It was also planted just a little too close to the building for comfort. Can it be transplanted?
Thank you in advance

August 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm
(248) David Beaulieu says:


I’d go ahead and stake it again. Obviously, the larger a plant is, the more of a “pull” you have to put into your staking efforts. As for transplanting, it would be better to wait till fall, when the weather cools.

September 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm
(249) Christine says:

I have a Magnolia that I planted the year my son was born. He is 9 now and has grown considerably but the tree hasn’t. It’s been blooming for 8 years but is still very small. What can the problem be? Thanks!

September 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm
(250) landscaping says:


Assuming that your tree is not simply a dwarf, the problem could lie in any of a number of areas. You have not specified your region, how much sun the plant receives, your watering practices, what type of soil you have, what if anything you are using for companion plants, what care you have supplied (amount and type of fertilizer applied, if any) — all of which (and more) are factors in growth or the lack thereof.

October 27, 2011 at 9:27 am
(251) David H says:

I have an older southern Magnolia tree in my yard the has small sprouts 1′ to 4′ tall under the tree. Would it damage the tree if I cut them out? The drip line is about 20′ in diameter and I would like to make it neater, some of the limbs also contact the ground, OK to trim these? Any advice would be appreciated.

October 27, 2011 at 11:42 am
(252) landscaping says:


Pruning the sprouts out will not hurt anything. I would be less anxious to trim the limbs coming into contact with the ground. Pruning is generally avoided in magnolia tree care unless it is truly necessary. Magnolia trees don’t always respond well to pruning. Having said that (as a word of warning), many people prune them to improve their shape and are quite satisfied with the results. Those who take the leap and prune their magnolia trees often do so after flowering, so they won’t be deprived of the blooms on those branches for that year.

November 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm
(253) Kathy says:


I wonder if you could shed some light.
Our seven year old magnolia trees, planted aprox 2 meters apart, are all of a sudden dying.

The leaves are turning brown, and the trees are starting to wither.
They are in a clay soil – but they have never had any problems.

Any advise would be appreciated.



November 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm
(254) landscaping says:


Not much to go on here. But as I suggest in my FAQ on possible reasons for magnolia tree leaves turning brown, one cannot rule out the possibility that an iron deficiency has developed over the years. If I were you, I would have my soil tested as a start.

November 7, 2011 at 10:04 am
(255) Hamish says:


My magnolia produced 6 seeds last year, of which 1 germinated. I now have a 4″ “tree” in a smallish pot, with a hard winter (Toronto) coming. I do not want to plant it in the ground now (I do not think), but i have had it outside, experiencing autumn, for 6 weeks now. How can i keep it alive over winter? I will plant it next spring outside, protected from our many wildlife. (another 20 seeds this year!)


November 8, 2011 at 9:31 am
(256) landscaping says:


Personally, I would go ahead and plant it outside. You’ve had it outside 6 weeks, so it is hardened off. Use chicken wire to take care of those would-be plant attackers!

November 7, 2011 at 11:49 am
(257) Lisa says:

I have two magnolia in my yard, not sure what kind they are, but last weekend we had a nor’easter ( Connecticut ) & both of them got damaged, I had to cut alot off. Now I’m not sure if I need to treat the area’s I cut, or if they will live through the winter & come back in the spring.
Thank you.

November 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm
(258) David Beaulieu says:


Tree care experts generally no longer recommend treating cuts with tree paint or anything of that nature. The wounds on your magnolia should heal over naturally.

January 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm
(259) Wanda McCord says:

Our fairly young magnolia tree had one beautiful bloom last Spring. Now it is January and is covered with buds. We’ve had a mild fall and winter. Is there anything I can do for it?

January 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm
(260) landscaping says:


If you fear that your magnolia buds could be damaged by cold weather, you could consider erecting some sort of temporary windbreak, to provide a sheltered microclimate for the tree. Also, as with any tree, occasionally watering it during the winter when the ground is not frozen is a good idea for the overall health of the plant.

January 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm
(261) cassie says:

I recently built a house and they planted a magnolia tree in our front yard? I’m starting to worry that once it starts growing its going to over-power my small yard. Is there a way to contain the size, height-wise? I’ve heard that once it gets to the height you want, to cut it off at the top and that will keep it from growing taller. Is that true? I assume that we’ll just need to trim it to take care of the width of it.

Any help or advice would be great!
-Austin, TX

January 21, 2012 at 8:42 am
(262) landscaping says:

Hi Cassie,

I see you posted this also in my Landscaping Forum. Please see response there.

January 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm
(263) Lisa Taber says:

We have a magnolia tree that was already at our house when we moved in. It was damaged by the ice storms last year & now three fourths of it appears dead. We want to save it if possible, but we know nothing about the care of magnolia’s. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

January 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm
(264) landscaping says:


Please see my FAQ about dead limbs on magnolia trees.

February 10, 2012 at 10:29 am
(265) diane says:

we just moved to a new home ,,,there is a big tree,,,which needs some TLC in the back yard,,It has pods or buds that look like large pussywillow buds,,,I cant figure out what it is ,,,any help ??? ty

February 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm
(266) landscaping says:


You may very well have a star magnolia tree. You can learn more about its care here: Star Magnolia Trees.

February 12, 2012 at 7:45 am
(267) Sonia says:

Thanks for all the info. on not pruning, I thought it might help it bloom to prune (like other plants and trees) since we have lots of low branches. I have read thru all your comments to find a possible answer, nothing quite fit… I have a 4-5 year old Magnolia in Houston TX (not sure what type, dark green on one side/ brown on the other side of leaves). Has grown well but NEVER bloomed! Gets plenty of sun and well drained/ normal watering. Any way to help it bloom… does it need a specific kind of fertilizer, how can I help it bloom???

February 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm
(268) David Beaulieu says:

Hi Sonia,

A wait of 4-5 years is not unusual. I would give it a little more time. It would not hurt to make sure you’re fertilizing with a fertilizer high in phosphorus.

March 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm
(269) Jeff says:

I have a magnolia tree in NJ that had very little bloom last spring. I thought it was because of a late frost the year before. It started to lose most of its leaves throughout the summer. It has green scale on the trunks. By the end of the summer last year it had red headed ash borers all over it. It should be blooming about now but I only see about 4 pods next to each other about 20 feet up on the whole tree. I’m guessing the tree is 20-30 years old. Is this tree salvageable?

March 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm
(270) landscaping says:


While one never says “never” in these cases, I would bet against salvageability. The redheaded ash borer (Neoclytus acuminatus) doesn’t attack trees that are healthy to begin with. Rather, it attacks trees that are already in trouble. So their appearance was a signal — and a bad one at that, I regret to say. My advice: take the same time and money you’re tempted to sink into what might be a lost cause and buy a new tree, instead (after having this one removed).

March 22, 2012 at 8:31 am
(271) Jeff says:

Thank you. I figured if it was the frost I would let it go until this season to see if it bloomed. That’s all I needed to hear before I removed it.

March 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm
(272) carol middleton says:

I planted a magnolia tree on 24th April 2011. It was an Easter present from my husband. After waiting patiently for almost a year, the tree has not changed one iota; in fact it looks to have died. I am devastated and wondering what I have done wrong. It is a white stellata magnolia standing about 2 feet high.

March 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm
(273) landscaping says:


I would need more information than that to go on. And even then — as I like to caution my readers occasionally — diagnoses over the web are often guesswork. To have much of a chance at discerning the problem with a magnolia tree (or any other) correctly, one really has to be on-site. It is also quite possible that you have not given your stellata sufficient time to grow yet (growth can be almost imperceptible when you first plant a specimen). To ease your mind that your stellata hasn’t died (or, conversely, to determine that it’s time to move on), cut away a bit of bark to see what color is underneath; wherever, there’s green, there’s life!

March 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm
(274) Peter Hoang says:

I have 20 feet Magnolia right next to the wall of my house. I want to cut it down. Last year I have to tilt my house foundation up 2-3 inches.
Does Magnolia tree that big have a main deep root system or many branches surface root system ?. I want to plant a palm instead right on the same place of Magnolia .

March 30, 2012 at 10:32 am
(275) jennifer says:

I planted a southern magnolia 15 years ago in Jacksonville FL. It is now over 20 feet tall but looks like the Charlie Brown tree. Very sad. Started having problems about 3 years ago. First with bugs. Treated them with appropriate pesticide and problem resolved. Them came the black mold. Treated it with appropriate fungicide and problem resolved. Has not bloomed in 2 years now. Leaves and limbs have died and now very sparse. Used fertilizer stakes and still no better. Some leaves look like they have black mold again, but I am not sure why. It has not been wet in Florida. What can I do to help my tree?

April 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm
(276) landscaping says:


I believe there’s quite a bit of variation in the root structures of magnolias. Which type of root structure yours has will depend on such factors as type of magnolia tree and nature of local conditions (e.g., water table). When the tree in question to be removed is that close to a house, I generally recommend calling in a pro, anyhow (to avert damage to the house). But make sure you hire someone legit. Read my sample contract for pointers.

April 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm
(277) landscaping says:


Sorry to hear you’ve had so many problems.

I do not think that fertilizing the magnolia tree would help. Fertilizer is most effective on trees that are already reasonably healthy. Fertilizing unhealthy trees generally has little effect.

Considering the problems this specimen has suffered, it’s possible that it has simply never fully recovered from past afflictions. You know how they say the rich get richer? Well, when it comes to tree care, sometimes it’s the case that the weak get weaker. A specimen already weakened by a disease or insect infestation is more susceptible to — you guessed it — further diseases and insect infestations.

One possible tack to take at this point is spraying again with fungicide (as you’ve indicated you’ve already done in the past). You could also take a sharp knife and cut through the bark to see what color you find underneath. If you see brown, prune those limbs off. Hopefully, there’s enough green somewhere on the tree to keep it going.

April 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm
(278) Tanya Blann says:

Hi there! I’m in Oklahoma and my little gem magnolia has been the same size for the last 2-3 years. It still flowers every year but doesn’t get tons of leaves. Never had a problem with any pests. I always put a few inches of mulch around it every year and some tree food. Why isn’t it getting bigger? Thanks a bunch!

April 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm
(279) landscaping says:


I know 2-3 years seems like a long time when you’re waiting, but it’s really not that long a time to wait for a tree to become established. Many circumstances can slow a specimen down (not enough sun, you’re not using the optimal fertilizer, you’re not watering properly, the magnolia was severely shocked when planted, etc.). For fertilizer, try TreeHelp Premium Fertilizer. But it may just come down to waiting, as frustrating as that sounds.

April 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm
(280) don says:

We have a yellow bird magnolia. We had an above average winter with temperatures in the 80s in early March. The tree started to bloom and get some leaf growth on it and then all it all died off before it even bloomed. Is the tree probably completely dead?

April 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm
(281) landscaping says:


Based on the information you provided, it sounds like your yellow bird magnolia may have leafed out prematurely due to precociously warm temperatures, then suffered a dip in temperature, killing the new leaves. If that’s all that’s going on here, it’s unlikely your tree is dead. Trees are made of tougher stuff, happily, than their new leaves, which can be quite fragile.

April 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm
(282) JOAN T says:

My Magnolia leaves are turning yellow & fallen off of the tree. Is this normal for this time of the year or is the tree dieing?

April 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm
(283) landscaping says:


Please see comment #53 above (although you do not indicate what type of magnolia tree you are growing).

April 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm
(284) nancy says:

Have a old magnolia tree (came w/house) blooms pink flowers..had an early frost this year after flowing, now all the leaves are yellow and the tips are brown….is the tree dead?..should I cut it back? im looking for new growth, so far dont see any :( ….any suggestions?..I love this tree..so sad, I guess I should of covered it..

May 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm
(285) LRM says:

A young magnolia in our front yard has suddenly begun to lose its leaves and no new ones appearing as well as no blooms. What’s the cause? There is a flower bed around the base since last year. Could this pose a problem?

May 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm
(286) landscaping says:


You didn’t mention what color your leaves turned before dropping, so I’ll give you two possibilities:

Magnolia Leaves Turning Yellow

Magnolia Leaves Turning Brown

May 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm
(287) landscaping says:


When you say you don’t see any green growth at all, I’m assuming you mean leaves. But the key indicator is the color you find other the bark. Take a sharp knife and remove a bit of bark here and there on the tree (just a very small incision). Do you see green? Then the tree is alive and probably will recover without any help from you. You can prune off dead branches. On fertilizing, please consult the following:

Should You Fertilize Injured Trees?

May 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm
(288) Randy Emry says:

I have a question.
2 years ago i got a Magnolia tree for my girlfriend -this year some of the leaves are turning yellow -is this normal?

Could this be some disease ?

Tree is in the Branson, MO area

May 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm
(289) Rio says:

Hi. I live in south Texas (near San Antonio) and I have two beautiful Magnolias that I planted last year in April to complement my oaks and cedars. They were about 12 to 14 feet tall when planted. Despite the draught last summer (I slow watered them once a week) they did really well, kept green all year long, lost a few leaves and produced those wonderful large creamy white fragrant blooms. In the past few days we’ve had really bad storms (Tornado Watch) with lots of rain. This morning, I noticed that one of them was leaning. It also has a brown spot on the trunk near the ground about 10″ long and wrapped half-way around the trunk (about 4″). I hadn’t noticed it before but I can’t imagine it appeared over night. It looks like it’s rotting and when I touched it, it sort of bled. The leaves still look okay and there are still blooms on it.

Can anyone tell me what this is and what I should do to deal with this?


May 11, 2012 at 6:41 am
(290) Kris says:

I planted a gorgeous young magnolia in my front yard about 7 years ago and I’ve taken great care of it and loved it. This year, it was in full bloom when the idiots who cut my grass decided to chop off 4 of the original bottom limbs (that I loved and was anxiously awaiting their flowers to open). I am furious. I don’t know what to do. I wanted to re-attach the limbs! What can I do to encourage limb growth to re-occur at the base of my healthy magnolia tree? I know it will never look the same and I’m beyond mad with these people who violated something that I was so very proud of growing. Thank you for the advice.

May 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm
(291) David Beaulieu says:
May 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm
(292) landscaping says:


Since your plant is leaning, you may wish to stake it. Straightening the plant may not be critical to your magnolia tree care efforts at this time, but it may be important for future appreciation of the tree (unless you think crooked trees give a landscape “character”). I have a video on staking trees that you can consult for some tips, although you’ll probably have to adjust the process to your own unique circumstances. As for the brown spot, as you say, it’s kind of suspicious that it seemed to appear overnight. Since you take good care of your magnolias, you likely would have noticed rot in its initial stages (before the spot became so big). So I’m thinking there could have been damage from the storm? If you had high winds, maybe an object was blown and slammed up against the tree? If so, it may heal. If, on the other hand, it’s really rot, a fungicide may be in order.

May 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm
(293) landscaping says:


Sorry to hear what happened to your prized magnolia tree. Unhappily, I doubt that pruning will promote limb growth in the way you desire. Magnolias just aren’t very amenable to pruning; it’s tough to manipulate them through pruning the way we can some other specimens, which will generate new growth all over the place to make up for cut limbs.

May 21, 2012 at 10:37 am
(294) Irvin says:

I live in New Jersey, an have a young magnolia tree with purple fowers on which was doing really well since we planted it maybe 3 yes ago. However recently a severe snow storm weighted the tree down tilting it signifcantly at an angle. My lanscaper lifted it out of the ground to straighten it out and put the top of the ball root back into the ground however just hours after fixing this issue the leaves started to wilt and even after watering it diligently it has not shown signs of perking back up after 2 days. HELP! How can I save this tree?

May 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm
(295) landscaping says:


If the tree has been stressed out due to this traumatic ordeal, there is not much you can do but wait. Give it some time to recover. Don’t try to force the issue by providing excessive (albeit well-intentioned) magnolia tree care. For example, it’s generally a mistake to think that fertilizing an injured tree will revitalize it. Also, while you don’t want the soil to dry out, you don’t want to over-water either. Remember, this damaged tree is not in full growth mode right now; dole out your care accordingly.

May 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm
(296) Om Prakash Madan says:

From Ottawa: ON Canada – 3 years ago we moved in this house which has three beautiful Magnolia trees, main stem of each around 6″ and the very first March 2009 we had beautiful flowers: white, pink and reddish. This May, 2012 after the flowering season and in a frenzy of clean-up, my spouse got a number of healthy branches around 3″ pruned off in order to get some headroom under them. I am very worried if this has damaged the wondrful trees and what will be the long term affect. How can I recover or remedy any ill effect done and also what is the best way to maintain a healthy future.
Please respond immediately; thanks

May 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm
(297) Marilyn says:

My magnolia Jane has leaves that are curling what does this mean?

May 31, 2012 at 10:05 am
(298) Dan says:

Two days ago here in Pittsburgh Pa, we had some bad storms, My magnolia tree had some branches damaged from the storm. Yesterday I went out to trim them and I was in shock of how many Flies and bees were on the leaves. Also it looked like black and red bumps growning on my branches. Any thoughts or suggestions.

May 31, 2012 at 10:52 am
(299) landscaping says:


It could be Nectria canker, which could have exploited the chance to infest the plant in the wake of the storm damage. During a stretch of dry weather, prune off the affected branches (assuming that would be a minority of the branches) so the disease doesn’t spread throughout your magnolia tree. The reason you take care to undertake the pruning operation in dry weather is that doing so in such conditions reduces the chance of having the infection spread. To the same end, during the pruning process, continually dip your pruners in a bleach-water solution. On the other hand, if too many branches are infected, probably all you can do is wait and hope for the best.

June 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm
(300) landscaping says:


Leaf curling could be due to a number of things, depending on a myriad of factors. If I were you, I would tentatively assume it’s caused by a fungus and take a leaf sample in to an expert (perhaps at your local extension) to get confirmation. If it is, indeed, a fungus, they will probably recommend spraying at some point with Copper sulfate.

June 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm
(301) landscaping says:


Sorry, but I can’t advise you on how to “remedy any ill effect done” until we know what that ill effect actually turns out to be (assuming that your plants will even experience any such problems at all). I can say this much, though: people usually don’t prune magnolia trees that much, since it spoils their shape and can introduce pathogens. In terms of general magnolia tree care, water when the soil is dry and fertilize with a fertilizer such as TreeHelp Premium Fertilizer.

June 4, 2012 at 3:10 am
(302) Shannon says:

Hi i have a braided magnolia tree, two of them actually i bought from my local grocery. i live in england. they both had buds all over and when i got them home they both bloomed ONE flower each and then all the other buds fell off. the base of them turned dark brown but the bud stayed green. why? what can i do to help them?

June 5, 2012 at 11:01 am
(303) landscaping says:


The problem could be due to any of a lot of various things. Here’s just one possibility: Problem With Magnolia Buds.

June 29, 2012 at 9:50 am
(304) jessi says:

Can a magnolia tree live in North Carolina?

June 29, 2012 at 11:23 am
(305) landscaping says:


In the South, many people grow southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora.

July 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm
(306) http://www.landscapinginclifton.com says:

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July 11, 2012 at 6:12 am
(307) Kerry says:

Hi there,
I bought 2 Magnolia’s in May, one is doing beautifully (lots of leaves and growth) and the other (a Blue Opal) started to grown leaves (was bare when I bought it). The leaves have grown, gone brown and shrivelled up. There is 1 green leaf left on it. I have 3 Magnolia’s in total all side by side at the moment in large pots and 2 look gorgeous but this one looks like its dying. They are all planted in the ericaceous soil and have the same conditions so its odd that just 1 in unhappy. The only thing I can think of is we have just had constant rain here in the UK – alot of the time heavy down pores – do you think this could be the problem and it is to wet? It is not as developed as the others. I have put it in my conservatory now in hope it may pick up but I am just guessing – please help?!
Many Thanks

July 12, 2012 at 3:55 am
(308) Kerry says:

I have looked at the magnolia again this morning and the brown shrivelled leaves are all closed up. The one remaining green leaf is starting to close abit and going brown on the end so heading the same way as the rest by the look of things :-(

July 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm
(309) landscaping says:


Sorry to hear about the problem with your Blue Opal magnolia tree. You mentioned two things that — in concert — I do think could account for the problem: heavy rain and the fact that it’s not as a big a plant as the others (which, you indicate, have done all right). Less-developed plants can’t take as much water as larger ones. Consequently, the root system could have been damaged.

July 27, 2012 at 10:24 am
(310) kb says:

We seem to be having a problem with our Teddy Bear. When purchased 2 years ago, it was about 6 feet tall and it was a nice tight column shape. After being planted in the ground for 2 seasons, it has opened up dramatically with a very loose structure and floppy branches. I don’t know why the change–not enough sun? not enough water?
We live in the PNW and the last 2 summers have been quite dry and we have given the tree supplemental water during those seasons and a dose of Spring fertilizer. The tree was unaffected by any minor snow we might have had. But this summer, the floppiness is very noticeable and frankly, what was a beautiful tight busy column, is now a fairly ugly lanky tree.
What do you think could be wrong?

July 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm
(311) landscaping says:


Lack of sunlight would do it. Insufficient light is commonly responsible for trees’ developing a gangly appearance. I would transplant your Teddy Bear magnolia in late fall if you think this could be the problem.

August 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm
(312) Ryan says:

My magnolia little gem’s under foliage leaves are starting to rot away. Damage appears to have been caused by hail and other environmental factors, but it is only on the older leaves underneath the new foliage. It is winter in Melbourne, Australia at the moment. I have fertilized but no change has been seen. Is this normal for this time of year?

August 6, 2012 at 7:18 am
(313) landscaping says:


Since you mention hail, I can only surmise that the older leaves, being weakened, succumbed, while the more vibrant younger leaves were not bothered, having greater resilience with which to withstand the elements.

August 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm
(314) Alan says:

About a month ago I purchased a mature 15 foot magnolia in a 24 inch wood pot from a local nursery. I live in Southern California (Long Beach). The nursery told me to water the tree 3-5 minutes a day for the first 3 days after planting and then let the sprinklers do the regular watering after that. I have a clay based soil. The sprinklers are on 4 days a week for 8 minutes a day. The weather has been nice for the first 4 weeks since planting but this past week has been hotter than normal (90+ degree days). The first week the tree looked great but the last 3-4 weeks the leaves have been turning brown and now are starting to fall off (from the top of the tree down…) The branches and leaves near the bottom are looking good but I know they will be brown too… Am I watering too much/little?

August 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm
(315) landscaping says:


If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on “watering too much.”

September 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm
(316) Ryan says:

My young magnolia tree’s leaves are browning. It gets water, has good drainage and sun. Could the TX heat have hurt it? It’s in NE Texas. planted in sandy loam near lake.

September 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm
(317) landscaping says:

Hi Ryan,

Please see Brown Leaves on Magnolia Trees.

September 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm
(318) littlemamaflowers says:

I live in the South Carolina what is the best way to grow a magnolia tree from the seed. We say the time for our fall is sept-oct first of nov. Is that the time i need to plant my seed r not should i wait until early spring?

September 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm
(319) landscaping says:


You can follow this site’s advice if you want to get fancy. But I would just let them fall to the ground and let nature do the work.

September 30, 2012 at 11:55 am
(320) Mia says:

We live in the South San Francisco Peninsula (temperate climate) and have a magnolia soulangiana (I think) that is generally healthy and probably about 30+ yrs old. However, this year we noticed that many of the seed pods are bent at a strange angle because of rounded swelling on the side. One swollen patch has opened and seems to be revealing a large red seed. In the past, our tre mostly dropped the seed pods and they never opened – this is the first time I remember seeing seeds.

Is this healthy tree behavior or something to be worried about? The seed pods look really strange when they are bent at such an angle with that big swollen round thing on the side. (I can send a picture if there’s somewhere I can send it.) We love the tree and want to catch any problems!

Thank you!

September 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm
(321) Hal says:

Can I remove the seed pod and discard them from my magnolias in the fall wihtout harming the plant?

September 30, 2012 at 3:12 pm
(322) landscaping says:


I don’t believe you incur much risk in removing the magnolia seed pods. To be on the safe side, use sharp pruners cleansed with alcohol to cut down on the possibility of introducing disease.

October 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm
(323) Leslie says:

I bought a house with a Southern magnolia tree that was in my opinion completely overgrown. The lower branches had grown so low it had grown into the lawn. So for that reason including the fact that you couldn’t see the house for the growth, we decided to trim it. We did so in September. Was that a good idea? One thing I’ve noticed is that it isn’t loosing leaves as much anymore.

October 7, 2012 at 3:31 am
(324) PhilG says:

I have a 20-25′ Southern Magnolia (6″diameter) in my yard. We bought the house a few months ago and removed several trees from the property. Two of those were growing very close to the Magnolia. The tree was damaged years ago, apparently by a tractor while clearing the land (best guess). The trunk seems to have survived the trauma, but the tree is very, very skinny, and most of the branches grow on only one side. Between the impact of said tractor collision and the weight of the one-sided branches, the thing leans about 15-20 degrees. I desperately want to save this tree. Can I cut the top 5-7′ out of it to try and reshape it? Also, there are many new shoots coming out of the bare side of the trunk. Shoul I leave those? Maybe pick 3-5 of them to keep and trim the rest? Thanks:)

October 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm
(325) Jessica says:

We purchased a Magnolia in May (Texas) in memorial of our son that passed on Easter. Obviously in Texas we get a lot of heat and not enough rain. I am very scared , it hasn’t grown, watering it often. Is there something I can fertilize it with to help? With winter around the corner I want to make sure it lives.

October 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm
(326) landscaping says:


If you’re seeing a growth with seeds on your magnolia that looks something like the one shown in this link, it’s normal. Granted, the one I took a picture of in this resource is a different type of magnolia, but my guess is that you have nothing to worry about.

October 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm
(327) landscaping says:


Early spring is the recommended time for pruning Southern magnolia trees. Hopefully, though, your fall pruning will work out OK for you. Good luck.

October 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm
(328) landscaping says:


I would not prune the Southern magnolia unless forced to. Staking the tree would be preferable if you think it may tumble over (although, granted, this tree is older than the typical staked tree). Nor do I see any reason to trim off the new branches coming out along the bare side of the trunk.

October 16, 2012 at 9:41 am
(329) landscaping says:


Please see Should I Fertilize a Sick or Injured Tree?. You didn’t state what kind of magnolia tree you have. Hopefully, the cooler temperatures of winter will revive it. If not, and you’re in the market for a replacement, make sure it’s a Southern magnolia, specifically. And to give the new tree a fighting chance, shelter it with shade cloth to help it get established.

October 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm
(330) Dennis says:

We live in Massachusetts and my wife is originally from Florida. We both love magnolia trees, especially when in bloom. Is it possible to grow magnolia trees in the everchanging New England climate?

October 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm
(331) landscaping says:


I live in Massachusetts, too. I currently grow a couple of different types of magnolia trees. I recommend starting out with a star magnolia.

October 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm
(332) Michael says:

This year our magnolia tree did not produce any seed pods. The last leaf just dropped today, and I see many buds for next spring. Any idea why no seed pods. Definitely not squirrels. Usually there are so many pods lying about they are a nuisance. Thanks.

October 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm
(333) David Beaulieu says:


The process by which your tree was pollinated in the past may have somehow been disrupted this year. Without pollination, there will be no seed pods. Magnolia flowers are pollinated by beetles. Of course, this is purely a guess, but perhaps the beetle population in your area was reduced by spraying this year.

November 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm
(334) Aticon says:

A little over 3 years ago, we had our sewer line replaced due to root invasion from our magnolia tree. Through this process, much of the root system seems to have been damaged and the tree appears to have experienced shock, as it’s now half dead with no leaves whatsoever on about 3/4 of it. Only a portion of it seems to still be alive with leaves, blossoms, etc. but that portion is functioning normally and does appear healthy. Will the rest of it come back? How can we stimulate its repair and regrowth? Should we saw off the dead limbs? I was hesitant to do this as it would destroy its beautiful shape, and I was hopeful it would come back on its own once it resettled, but it doesn’t appear to be doing so. Open to tips and advice! Thank you!

November 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm
(335) Michael Zastrow says:

Thank you David for the reply.

November 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm
(336) landscaping says:


You have little choice but to saw off the dead limbs and let nature take it from there. How much recovery you experience will depend on the extent of the root damage. There’s not much you can do to influence that. Fertilizing injured trees isn’t the answer for them. You’re right about this, though: pruning magnolia trees generally has a deleterious effect on their overall appearance. Assuming the tree survives at all, I would do a re-evaluation next year and ask myself, “Lopsided as this specimen now is, do I want to live with its appearance or replace it with a new tree?”

January 7, 2013 at 7:28 pm
(337) Dottie says:

I live in Adelaide hills in South Australia. I planted three big teddy bear magnolias last June. They were planted in heavy clay soil that had been prepared as per the nurseryman’s instructions. Two are thriving – there have been plenty of flowers and new growth this season. The third and biggest one obviously didn’t like the soil. The drainage was not right and it pretty much drowned before we took it out of the hole and into another big container. It has not recovered. I have rectified the drainage problem in the clay by digging a deep drainage hole, filling with pebbles and layering sand in it. Also lotsa gypsum and organic soil mixed with the surrounding clay soil. I have done several water tests( to see how quickly the water drains and it seems to have better drainage). Hopefully this has fixed the drainage problem. Back to the plant, the entire leaf cover is crumbly, brown and totally dead. There is green under the bark and there is some small furry buds Appearing on several of the branches. However, the buds are very small and don’t appear to be growing. What can I do to help this plant? Or is it just a Matter of waiting and seeing. We have some very hot weather coming. Do I move it to a shady spot or leave it where it is? I have been watering it and nurturing it along. It was an expensive plant and I don’t want to give up on it. Should I cut the dead leaves or just leave them alone?

January 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm
(338) Amy says:

We live in Southern Ohio and planted a magnolia tree 5-6 years ago and it has only grown maybe one foot. It’s always healthy and blooms but does not seem to want to grow. Is this normal for a magnolia tree and is there anything we can do to enhance its growth? Thanks!!

February 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm
(339) Julie says:

We brought a model house with many magnolia trees. They are about 10 years old. However, all of our magnolia look malnutrition, leaves are yellowest and very thin not as full as our next door neighbors. We have drips system throughout and I don’t think it’s lacking of water. My husband searched for solutions but none helped so far. One of the two that were next together dried out and died. Others are not that healthy. We lived on the rocks filled land. Please help us.

February 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm
(340) landscaping says:


A couple of thoughts.

First of all, what type of magnolia tree do you have? Some kinds will grow taller and/or grow more rapidly than others.

Secondly, has it ever suffered damage? If a leader has been broken on it, a magnolia tree can evolve into something more shrub-like.

February 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm
(341) landscaping says:


On some types of magnolia trees, it’s normal to find yellow leaves in spring. The plant is shedding. If it does not produce new leaves as the spring progresses, I would start to worry.

February 28, 2013 at 11:02 pm
(342) angela says:

My dog has chewed the branches off of my baby gem tree. will the braches grow back or is the tree ruined?

March 1, 2013 at 7:08 am
(343) landscaping says:


If there’s still green anywhere on your Little Gem, you should be OK. For a tip on how to check for such green, see comment #21 above.

March 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm
(344) 9handicapper says:

Good evening David,

We live in Greenville SC … we had a 20 ft “brown Betty” magnolia tree planted on our property 3.5 years ago.

Unfortunately it looks like it did 3.5 years ago …. no growth, skinny – flowers are few and far between, most of the soil is Georgia red clay where we live. It receives “about” 5 hours of direct sunshine and 5 hours of indirect in the June/July summer months.

That said, we’ve had on and off drought the last 3 years and because of it’s location on the 2 acres, it didn’t see as much water as most of the other tree’s and plants that we have .. the closest tree to it is a large Maple tree which sits about 21 ft away — I tried my very best to water the Magnolia with 5/8 gallon increments every 10/14 days directly to the base of the tree.

This year we’ve had 19 inches of rain, so water supply has been robust …. what can we do to take advantage of the situation — fetilizers, soil bed changes, etc..??

We need some good ideas.! — thank you.



March 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm
(345) landscaping says:

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, you should grow this magnolia “in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams…. [It is] generally intolerant of soil extremes (dry or wet).”

Your problem in getting this plant sufficiently well-established to thrive could well be the red clay soil you’re working with. I would recommend working organic matter into the soil. This will not only enrich the soil, but also help retain moisture.

March 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm
(346) landscaping says:


You’ve obviously researched the matter and put a lot of work into the project. I’d say that at this point it is, as you say, mainly just a matter of waiting. But moving it to a shady spot does seem prudent, to give it more of a chance to recover. The only reason I might feel at all compelled to remove the dead leaves would be if I suspected they might invite disease; in the absence of any such suspicion (and I don’t know Australia well enough to say one way or the other), I think they’re harmless, probably. But there’s nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution. Good luck!

March 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm
(347) NOXNW says:

We live in the Seattle area, and bought a Teddy Bear magnolia from a reputable landscaping firm in late summer 2010. He did a great job putting it into a slightly raised area behind a low retaining wall, in full southern exposure. He amended the soil with about 3 yards of topsoil. The planted tree was about 7 feet tall, very healthy with dark green shiny leaves, very full and thick foliage. Leaf loss began the following summer and today less than half the foliage is left though most branches have a few leaves at the ends. Seattle winters are gray and damp, so the ground stays moist but the tree gets little sunshine most of the year. We do water with a soaking hose during the dryest parts of the summer, no more than 60 days of the year, not more than 45 minutes per day, but the ground gets saturated.

Did we over water, causing the leaf loss, or ?

March 14, 2013 at 6:47 am
(348) landscaping says:


You seem to be doing everything right with your Teddy Bear magnolia tree. Based on the information that you have provided, I am not able to pinpoint a problem and say, “Aha, you should not have done X!” Of course, there’s always the potential impact from hidden variables: some sort of mechanical injury to the roots or to the trunk of which you may not be aware, or perhaps a skirmish with invisible pollutants. One never knows. And living, as you do, in the Seattle area, over-watering always comes to mind as a possible problem.

March 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm
(349) Mike says:

I love in Southern Calif. Is it ever advised to top a dwarf magnolia tree?

March 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm
(350) landscaping says:


If it’s at all possible, I would advise you to avoid this operation. Even if the plant doesn’t die, it will be disfigured for the rest of its lifespan. Magnolia trees just aren’t amenable to this kind of pruning.

April 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm
(351) Benny Edwards says:

I have lost one of my Old Magnolia trees last year. It just started looking bad and lost all its leaves and died. It was about 60 years. Now this year the other one that was beside it in the front yard seeming to be dying also. It is about the same age or older. Please help if anyone has any suggestions…………..thanks…….Ben

April 12, 2013 at 9:00 am
(352) Lisa says:

I have a Yellow Butterfly Magnolia tree that I planted maybe 4 years ago. It is growing branches really well…no flowers yet…but it won’t grow in height. It has no trunk yet. What might be the problem?

April 12, 2013 at 4:36 pm
(353) landscaping says:


You don’t mention your circumstances (what region of the country you live in, what sunlight and soil conditions you have given your ‘Butterflies’ magnolia tree, how much you water it, etc.), so I will provide some facts about this specimen, and you can compare what you’re doing to those facts:

It’s recommended growing zones are 5-9. Give it a moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Neither under-water nor over-water it (let the soil dry out some between waterings). A partially sheltered area will often be a good location for it, to shield it from high winds.

April 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm
(354) landscaping says:


Please provide information such as where you live, what conditions your specimen is growing under, and what type of magnolia tree it is.

April 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm
(355) Lisa says:

I live in central NY. All I remember is that it is a yellow magnolia tree. I have another magnolia tree that I’ve had for close to 20 years that is doing fine in the same yard. This particular one just comes out of the ground and spreads limbs. No trunk to really speak of. I don’t water either, we get enough rain to provide what all the trees in my yard need…it seems healthy other than no trunk or flowers as of yet.

April 14, 2013 at 7:15 am
(356) landscaping says:

Thanks, Lisa. Assuming it gets enough sunlight, nutrients and water, grows in soil with good drainage, and is not being plagued by some sort of pest, we have to look to possibilities such as mechanical damage. Let us know how your ‘Butterflies’ magnolia progresses this year.

April 26, 2013 at 8:52 am
(357) Annie says:

I have a Magnolia Tree and it haas little holes all around the trunk and the tree is does not look as good as it has in the past. We has had abundance of rain and so I know it is no starving for water. Please help if you can

April 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm
(358) landscaping says:


To start researching what those holes in the trunk are, have a look at my FAQ, What Makes Little Holes in Trees?

April 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm
(359) Charolette says:

I have a dwarf magnolia in my front yard in North Central Texas. It was doing well when we moved in but now it has brown leaves that keep falling. It is also not blooming. They only thing we did to the tree was place mulch in the bricked in flower bed and it’s watered by the sprinkler system. What can we do to save it ?

April 30, 2013 at 9:10 am
(360) landscaping says:


I have an FAQ on the problem of brown leaves on a magnolia tree that presents some of the possible explanations behind the issue. One thing you want to avoid at this time is excessive watering. You’re in a wait-and-see period now; a specimen with leaves falling off does not need the amount of water that a vigorously-growing plant does.

May 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm
(361) Kevin Kraft says:

Question: a friend has a magnolia tree that only has maybe 4 or 5 blossoms a year. What happens is the magnolias other blooms turns into a tassel. Why does this happen and is there a remedy.

May 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm
(362) landscaping says:


Please see Why Magnolia Buds Don’t Open.

May 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm
(363) Sal says:

I have a Southern magnolia (evergreen) called Little Gem. It gets the afternoon sun from a Western exposure in Philadelphia. It is in a large pot on a patio with irrigation tubing. The flower buds appear to fall off before any attempt at opening. What is wrong?

May 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm
(364) landscaping says:


Even though this FAQ mentions a type of magnolia for the North, it is still relevant to your question:

Magnolia Buds Fail to Open

May 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm
(365) Miranda says:

I have a mature southern magnolia tree in Houston, Texas. All of the magnolia trees in the neighborhood are thriving and blooming except mine. All the leaves look wilted, some have yellowed and fallen off but so have leaves from the healthy looking trees. The tree looks like its trying to produce flowers but when the bud tries to open they wilt and fall. I’m not sure what to do. There are a few completely bare branches but 95% of the tree still has leaves. Please help! I don’t want this tree to die. Any suggestions?

May 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm
(366) landscaping says:


For the problem of the flower buds not opening, please see the post just before yours. For the yellowing, please consult Yellow Leaves on Southern Magnolia.

June 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm
(367) Sal says:

Thanks. I think the weather was too cool and now the buds seem to be OK.

June 1, 2013 at 10:45 pm
(368) joy says:

We have a 50+ year-old magnolia tree. Two years ago it died, but we have 4 foot starts coming out of the bottom and even had flowers on them this year. How can we take those starts off the tree without killing them?

June 3, 2013 at 10:29 am
(369) Audrey says:

We have a magnolia that is approximately 15 years old. We moved in two years ago. This tree had never been trimmed and I did so in March, before growing started here in Michigan. However, I have no leaves on it, except one branch. We had a late frost that killed what little blooms it had. Hoping I didn’t destroy it. Anything I can do to try to save it? What leaves it has look great!

June 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm
(370) Brian says:

We have a 1 year-old little gem magnolia planted in our front yard in Southern California that is loosing leaves and not doing well. We unfortunately killed a previous magnolia due to over watering and are now only watering 8 min. a day, twice per week. It gets ¾ of sun per day and we’ve used a mild fertilizer recommend by our nursery twice in the past 6-8 months. We do not appear to have any problems with bugs and our neighbor’s magnolias are good. Any advice on what we can do differently would be greatly appreciated.

June 26, 2013 at 9:03 am
(371) Roy says:

I cut a branch that was about 6 inches in diameter from a limb coming out of the trunk. It now has a small hole that is the depth of my finger. Is there anything I can do to fill so that limb does not cause further damage?
Thanks in advance.

June 27, 2013 at 11:11 am
(372) Craig says:

My wife and I planted the 7 foot tall Ann Magnolia tree in mid May last year. This May in St. Paul, Mn , as the tree was starting to bud we had snow and cold. All of the buds have dried up and we only have a few leaves coming off the main trunk. The tree is green under the bark about half way up -3 ft.
Can this tree be saved? What to do now?

July 8, 2013 at 10:43 am
(373) Kate says:

We have a beautiful magnolia in our front yard here in NJ. Unfortunately the past couple of years it has seen some rough weather, snow storm in Oct, hurricanes and now a tornado. The inside branches suffered the most and are gone. So, now we have this tree that has no interior branches, therefore it looks droopy. My hubby wants to tie up the outside branches to help bring the shape back to normal. Will that help? Or should we prune?


July 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm
(374) landscaping says:


I have a Jane magnolia that was damaged by a storm. The damage essentially “shrubized” my tree. I’m fine with that, but it will never have a graceful tree form again. That’s the way it tends to go with magnolias: they’re not that amenable to change, and their shape is one of their nicest features. I’m sorry to have to say it, but my opinion would be: replace the tree if you’re not happy with its current shape. It will be too much trouble trying to get it to bend to your will and approach the shape it used to have.

July 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm
(375) landscaping says:


You were smart to check for green, and I’m glad you found some. To put it as succinctly as possible, green means live, brown means dead, and dead is definitely dead — as in “that brown part ain’t coming back.” I would carefully remove the part that’s brown. The rest (with the green under the bark) is fine and should live. But this “involuntary pruning,” if you will, will forever change the appearance of your Ann magnolia, making it more shrub-like. Nothing you can do about that, sorry.

July 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm
(376) landscaping says:


Opinion is divided on the issue of filling holes like this in a tree. Some people swear by it, while others don’t like the procedure at all. If you end up siding with the latter group after researching this more, you basically have 2 options. One is to cut the offending limb off, the other is to leave it and just accept that it may eventually cause a problem. Obviously, neither is a great option (the first one tends to spoil the looks of a magnolia).

July 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm
(377) landscaping says:


According to Missouri Botanical Garden, ‘Little Gem’ magnolia grows best “in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Part shade may be best.” The same source states that this plant struggles under conditions that are too dry, too wet, or exposed to the kind of pollution you may well face if you live in a city in Southern California. I hope you can draw a conclusion from one of those points that will help you.

July 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm
(378) landscaping says:


See my answer to Craig, above, as you seem to have an issue similar to his (i.e., “late frost”). Best of luck.

July 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm
(379) landscaping says:


Sorry, I’ve never attempted such an operation, so I wouldn’t want to suggest a method and/or predict the likelihood of success with it. You used the plural (“starts”), so why don’t you experiment one at a time, rather than trying something with all of them at once? If nothing else, you could vary the time of year in which you attempt the transplant. Summer is definitely out, though — too hot for a transplant. But maybe try one in fall, then another in late winter, and a third in early spring.

July 14, 2013 at 10:45 am
(380) wendy zachok says:

My magnolia tree, which is flowering fine, has moss growing on the stems. Is this good or bad?

July 14, 2013 at 11:22 am
(381) landscaping says:


As far as I know, the moss here is neither helpful nor harmful.

July 19, 2013 at 10:57 pm
(382) Jennifer says:

We had a Teddy Bear Magnolia planted last summer in Dallas, Texas. It is about 8 feet from a second magnolia (same variety). One of them is great, even blooming and the other one is losing leaves like crazy. We don’t see any spots on the leaves. Can you help? They both get full sun all day.

July 23, 2013 at 6:04 am
(383) Tonya Hodges says:

I planted a pink magnolia tree this spring. It was doing so good (it had 2 blooms open up on it), but now the leaves are turning yellowish. It has rained all summer. And I was wondering if it getting too much water — if that was killing it — and if so, could I dig it back up and put it in a big tree bucket? Would that save it? Please let me know what you think.


Tonya Hodges

July 23, 2013 at 8:31 am
(384) Debbie says:

My suggestion is to have it analyzed by a your local arboretum and find out if it is covered in nano size metallic and fibers of all sorts. They have been spraying that stuff on us for years and it is taking it’s toll on trees, water and wildlife. Not to mention us humans. It is finally coming out on the state run news channels that the government is going to spray to combat global warming that isn’t happening. In reality, they have been doing it since the 50′s and are getting more intense about it spraying daily, all day long lately. This stuff has Barium, Titanium and Aluminum particles along with strange fibers and nanobot computer chips. This stuff is killing everything and everybody. Look up Chemtrails and do not believe anyone who tells you it is not true or that it is to protect our communication system or to block the suns harmful rays. They are lying to you. It is killing us and the planet and everything in it. Get involved. Start a group. Help stop these Chemtrails and most of all Pray to God the Father that he will save us from this madness and the evil yet to come. This is not a joke. Knowledge is power and if you are sticking your head in the sand then you are the problem.

July 23, 2013 at 10:38 am
(385) Gary Voorhees says:

I have a home on a lake in North Carolina. We planted 3 southern magnolia trees between 35 foot columns which support 2 decks facing the lake. The trees have done great. However, they have grown so large that they are beginning to obscure our view of the lake from the lower level of the house. I am wondering if I can “top” these 3 trees in order to open up the view of the lake. I think I would need to take about 3 to 4 feet off the tops of the trees in order to accomplish my objective. 2 questions: Can I cut back the tops of these trees without injuring them? When should I do this?
I would appreciate your help!

August 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm
(386) Pam says:

I live in the DFW, Texas area. My HOA has put out plans to change our entry landscape. Since this is directly behind my house I am very interested in gaining knowledge about the DD Blanchard Magnolia trees. The proposal is removing 56 mature Cedar trees and replacing them with 22 10′-12- DD Blanchard Magnolias. The entry area also has beautiful crepe myrtles and other nice trees. There is also an irrigation system that waters regularly. The area around the new trees will be sodded with St. Augustine. Anyone’s opinion is greatly appreciated.

August 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm
(387) landscaping says:


I can’t grow these in my climate (New England) so don’t have personal experience with DD Blanchard magnolia trees, but this site lists some of the pros and cons, which may be of help to you.

August 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm
(388) John says:

I live north of Philadelphia and my Magnolia is in bad shape. It looked very healthy last year and now appears to be dying. About half of the tree is now dead and I am concerned with losing it entirely. What could be killing it off?


September 1, 2013 at 1:17 pm
(389) landscaping says:


Much more information would be required for even an attempt at a diagnosis, such as the type of magnolia tree you have, how old it is, what type of conditions it is growing in (e.g., hours of sunlight it receives, nature of the soil in which it is growing, what fertilizer, if any, it has received, etc.) and the like.

September 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm
(390) landscaping says:


While magnolia trees are not a type especially amenable to pruning, the fact is that many trees will, indeed, survive topping, depending upon a variety of factors. Magnolias typically are not topped, due to aesthetic considerations (their natural form is part of their beauty). I do, however, understand your need to prune back these plants in your particular situation. To avoid introducing disease organisms into the cut wounds, I would suggest the dormant period (winter) as a time to undertake your trimming operation.

September 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm
(391) landscaping says:


My FAQ on why magnolia leaves turn yellow may answer your first question. As to the remedy, yes, moving the tree is one option if you think you can control the amount of water it gets better somewhere else (as in the container you suggest). However, note that summer is not the best time, generally speaking, to be transplanting, since the heat stresses out the plants. So the cure here, so to speak, may be worse than the “disease.” If the plant is still alive by late fall, that would be a better time to transplant it (perhaps to a more suitable spot in your landscaping, which, in this case, would mean better soil drainage).

September 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm
(392) landscaping says:


I know it seems illogical, but I very commonly hear cases like this. Gardeners are growing two of the same tree (in your case, Teddy Bear magnolia trees) under the same conditions (at least seemingly the same), yet one specimen thrives and the other suffers problems. There are various possible answers. For example, even though just 8 feet separates them, we don’t necessarily know that the soil is exactly the same in those two spots. Other possible ways to account for the discrepancy include: 1) the specimen that is thriving was simply a healthier tree to begin with (one can’t always tell by looking); 2) the one losing leaves has incurred mechanical injury (e.g., from a lawn mower) or has been attacked by an insect or disease that “flew under your radar.”

September 16, 2013 at 1:10 pm
(393) Belinda says:

We recently transplanted two fairly large Teddy Bear Magnolia trees. My neighbor needed them removed because the roots were going under the foundation. As a result we didn’t get a very large root ball with them and they are definitely drooping. I gave them each root stimulator when we planted them and am letting a hose run on them for an hour each day (in addition to the sprinkler system). What else can I do to help the roots grow back?

September 20, 2013 at 10:54 am
(394) Ed says:

My 12-year old sweet gum mags off the South coast of Long Island were flooded with sea water by Hurricane Sandy last Fall. This season’s leafing and blooms were puny and stunted, with lots of dieback. Prior posts suggest I hold off on any pruning or feeding. Is that correct?

September 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm
(395) David says:


Salt prevents plants from absorbing water through their roots as well as they normally would. So right, don’t attempt to revitalize your plant through watering. Feel free to prune off any dead branches, though. Other than that, all you can do is play the waiting game now and see if it pulls through. Although, if you have a spot in the yard that you feel is less salty (which you can accomplish by amending the soil, by the way), transplanting might not be a bad idea. Do so in late fall, if that’s the route you choose.

September 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm
(396) David says:


Make sure the soil is nice and loose. That will allow the roots to spread more easily. You can loosen clayey soil by working in compost, peat moss, etc.

September 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm
(397) bonnie says:

I live in Houston, TX. I had a large (14 foot) Little Gem Magnolia planted in our backyard about 1 year ago this month (September). It went through the winter just fine, come spring it lost many, many leaves and did not get any new growth to replace the lost leaves. The leaves continue to turn yellow and fall off even now in September and I did notice 3 little buds of new growth last week – odd time for new growth. It looks sparse and not healthy – took leaves to nurseries all over the place and they all said don’t worry. Other Magnolias in our area look full and lush. What could cause this and will my beautiful tree expire this winter? We did cut some Sulpher crystals into the soil about 3 months ago. No improvement. Please help. Thanks.

September 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm
(398) landscaping says:


It’s difficult to say what happened without being there or to make a prediction regarding survival, but I’m encouraged by your remark that you “did notice 3 little buds of new growth last week.” This winter I would transplant the Little Gem magnolia, after amending the soil in the new location with compost. Monitor its growth in the new location next spring and check back in with us, giving us the most detailed observations you possibly can. Good luck!

September 25, 2013 at 10:32 am
(399) darla says:

I started a magnolia from stem cutting in water,its sept.24th ,I live in canton,ohio its got lots of roots,is it too late to plant outside and if so can i put it under florestant lights indoors with other plants?

September 25, 2013 at 10:57 am
(400) landscaping says:


I’ve never attempted what you’re doing (growing from a stem cutting in water). But my gut instinct would be to nurse it along inside and plant it outside in the spring.

October 1, 2013 at 10:48 am
(401) Susan says:

I live in So. Ct along the shore, we have had three incredible storms in the past 2 years. My 40 something year old Magnolia produced red cones for the first time ever last year. This year we had pods for the first time although very few cones. Does it normally take a Magnolia 40 years to
produce pods? Our tree flowers beautifully every year.

October 1, 2013 at 11:39 am
(402) landscaping says:


No, I wouldn’t say this is “normally” so. But then again, I’m sure there’s lots of variation in how long it takes for magnolias to produce pods, due to reasons ranging from the type of magnolia tree to the climate to the soil conditions.

October 3, 2013 at 9:29 am
(403) ted says:

I purchased and planted a dwarf variety of magnolia and we live in sw florida. After about 3 weeks we had a single flower which lasted for about 2-3 days. Now on the tips of almost every branch are new bulb-like flowers not yet blooming. There are about 15 3-4″ bulbs and tiny ones on all the other branches. Should we let all the flower pods bloom before pruning? To prevent white fly infiltration we sprayed the whole tree with a mixture of dawn and water and no one white fly.

October 3, 2013 at 9:51 am
(404) landscaping says:


Yes, I’d let blooming occur before pruning, simply so that you can enjoy the flowers. Most people don’t prune magnolia trees much at all, though, as it spoils their natural shape.

October 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm
(405) bob pickerel says:

I have a 30 inch Jane tulip magnolia, live in nw mo. temps are 38/57. v It is in a gallon container. Do I plant it now or wait until spring

October 26, 2013 at 7:51 pm
(406) David says:


I’d plant it.

November 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm
(407) Sid says:

I just bought a home with a 25′ beautiful Magnolia tree. Everything looks good except most of the older leaves have a 1/8″ brown edge all the way around the perimeter with green centers. The newer leaves are completely green. Fertilizer needed?

November 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm
(408) landscaping says:


No, I would not fertilize it. You do not state where you live or what type of magnolia tree you grow, but southern magnolia is known to be susceptible to leaf scorch. If it turns out that leaf scorch is, in fact, your problem, try watering more deeply next summer.

November 12, 2013 at 2:24 pm
(409) jb says:

Is it correct to say that a southern magnolia tree is a male or a female? How do I know? Thanks.

November 12, 2013 at 2:46 pm
(410) landscaping says:

Hi JB,

No. Some plants are, indeed, dioecious, but southern magnolia is not one of them. Magnolia grandiflora (the scientific name) is monoecious: the species does not consist of separate male trees and female trees.

November 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
(411) Bob says:

I planted a southern magnolia about six years ago which has flowered and thrived after a two year adjustment period. About two years ago the bark on the tree developed several small holes about a foot above ground level which I’ve been told by a novice were caused by woodpeckers. The damage occured during that one summer only but now some bark has fallen off the trunk. The piece that has fallen off is about four inches wide and 16 inches long vertically, starting a couple inches above ground level. The tree doesn’t appear to be suffering at all, but what do you think the long term prognosis is for its survival?

November 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm
(412) landscaping says:


See my FAQ on interpreting little holes in trees. It does make a difference if the holes were made by woodpeckers, as opposed to borers (based on what you wrote, it does not sound like woodpeckers are responsible for the holes). Ultimately, the trunk will have to heal, but all you can do now is address the possibility that borers are the culprit.

December 1, 2013 at 5:07 pm
(413) Ray says:

My Saucer Magnolia is the largest and most notable in the entire city. Newspaper articles have been written about it for years now. It is spectacular. When in bloom, people ask permission to photograph it daily, sometimes 5 to 10 times a day ! I get cars stopping a block long to see it ! It is 20 years old. Alas, a possible problem is evident ; At the base of the tree, their are 3 main trunks. At ground level, there is bark split open all around the trunks. There is a black, sticky substance oozing out. Is this normal or a problem ?

December 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm
(414) landscaping says:


Splitting can sometimes be the result of the “perfect storm” of a summer with an unusual amount of rain, excessive winter sunlight, sudden cold snaps, etc. It’s probably too late to do anything now, but what you want to hope for is that the bark of the trunk heals over where the rupturing has occurred.

February 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm
(415) Kip says:

Is it normal to plan a 48″ boxed magnolia tree with the bottom of the box placed in the ground with the tree? Any benefit or disadvantage to this?

February 6, 2014 at 11:41 am
(416) landscaping says:


Depending on what the soil is like in that ground (clayey, etc.), I could envision one encountering drainage problems. That’s the first potential red flag that comes up for me in hearing of this plan.

February 17, 2014 at 2:16 am
(417) Tammy polk says:

Can I take a cutting of of my tree and plant it and it will grow

February 17, 2014 at 11:14 am
(418) landscaping says:


You didn’t specify whether you have an evergreen magnolia or a deciduous one, but I’ll assume you have a deciduous one. According to WA State U., you should take softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings in summer to propagate a deciduous magnolia tree.

February 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm
(419) izzy says:

We have a magnolia tree and it usually blossoms really well all throughout the year, this year we had an awful company trim them and they trimmed half the tree!!! Now its bare and all the flower bubs that would have flowered so nicely are gone. How long could it be until we see flower bulbs again? How long is it going to take for it to grow out again?

February 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm
(420) landscaping says:


Unhappily, any branches that had buds at the time that were pruned off will not have flowers this spring. You will have to wait till next spring for those. That’s a tough break, because everyone’s looking forward to early blooms this year after the harsh winter.

March 6, 2014 at 6:44 am
(421) Karen says:

I was told that there is a lil worm that is supposed to be good for a Magnolia, can you tell more about this?

March 15, 2014 at 10:52 am
(422) landscaping says:


Unless we’re talking about earthworms, a “worm” is rarely beneficial to a tree. For example, a novice may refer to a tent caterpillar as a “worm” — these do a lot of damage to trees. There may be a “little worm” (in the sense of “caterpillar”) out there that’s beneficial to magnolias, but, if so, I haven’t heard of it. Sorry.

March 22, 2014 at 10:31 am
(423) Jessica says:

I live in upper Missouri. We bought a home that has 2 small magnolia trees on the property. After reading through all the questions and comments, I know I need to move the trees. But my question is this: When would be a good time move them, as I live in 5 but some are calling it 6 also. When I transplant, watering once a week or more and I saw about the apple juice, can I put apples around the tree to rot down into the ground?
As far as I know, they have never flowered, but I figured it is due with being in alot of shade (perhaps 3 hours of sunlight). Also, do I need to transplant on the south side, or as much sunlight as possible, or not such a hot side of the house?
Last but not least, thank you for all your great insight on caring for these beautiful trees.

March 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm
(424) landscaping says:

Hi, Jessica,

First of all, you are welcome, and thank you for visiting my website. I’ll answer two of your questions now, then invite you to come back to pose any further ones later. Do your transplanting in late fall. As for placement, that would depend on such factors as the type of magnolia tree, how hot your summers are, and how well you can irrigate the plant. If I had to suggest a location without having knowledge of those factors, I would say most likely you’ll want to select a spot that is mostly sunny but that perhaps receives a little shade in late afternoon. Good luck.

April 10, 2014 at 2:02 pm
(425) Barbara says:

I live in ohio an have a southern magnolia that blooms large white flowers,,,it was planted right in front of our house more than 40 years ago(we have lived in our house for 40 years and it was full grown when we moved in),,,,
I’m really worried that the tree is dying,,,,problems: roots occasionally get in our drain pipes and have to hire rooter router, the tree is now against our roof, has grown about 15 ft. above our two story house chimney and the leaves are not has large now and are turning brown at an enormous rate,,,,You suggest not topping,,,could you please give suggestions on our alternatives,,,,,PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!

April 10, 2014 at 8:39 pm
(426) landscaping says:


It seems you have two distinct sets of problems with your southern magnolia, so let me address them separately.

On the one hand, you feel your tree may have a health problem, citing its brown leaves. Please see my FAQ about brown leaves on magnolias to learn more about this issue.

On the other hand, you have a separate set of problems regarding how your specimen is “getting along with” other components of your property (drains and house roof). Because of what I assume is the proximity of the tree to the house, you have to be very careful here. For example, while root pruning the tree might help you mitigate its impact on your drain, if anything goes wrong you could make your southern magnolia unstable. And the last thing we want is for the tree to fall on your home! I would advise calling in expert, on-site help with this problem.

Regarding dealing with the manner in which the tree is overwhelming your house, again, having a pro (an arborist) come in to do some pruning might be necessary. Topping or excessive pruning of magnolias detracts from their looks, but your home’s safety trumps that consideration. Having a pro do the work will help ensure, again, that something doesn’t go wrong: we don’t want cut branches falling on your roof and doing damage.

April 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm
(427) Carlos von Frankenberg says:

my magnolia tree is dropping leaves . they turn brown on the tree and then drop off. what is the best treatment to eliminate this problem?
Thank you in advance for the information.

April 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm
(428) landscaping says:

Before you contemplate doing anything, please see why magnolia leaves turn brown.

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