(March) We planted a magnolia tree nine years. The tree has done very well but now surface roots are shooting out into the lawn. Is it harmful if I cut these surface roots. Also can the lower branches be removed?
Magnolias are known for their surface roots, as well as leaf droppage throughout the season. For that reason, I believe in leaving the lower limbs attached. This masks the surface roots, plus the debris. Since it is virtually impossible to grow anything under the trees anyway, that is another reason to allow the limbs free growth. Removing surface roots could damage the trees, plus won't be a long lasting solution.
(June) My magnolia tree is looking sad, the leaves are all turning yellow and falling and I don't see too many new ones coming. There is limited new growth. It is not looking very healthy. What can we do?
Magnolias can shed old leaves year-round. However, you should be seeing signs of new growth to replace those falling leaves. Pay attention to watering -- it has been extremely dry for this early in the season. We have also seen an abundance of leaf spot diseases on a variety of plants. Monitor the plants for insects and diseases. If the yellowing is primarily on older leaves further down on the stems, don't be overly concerned. Try a light application of fertilizer to spur on new growth, but do monitor the situation this growing season.
(July) I planted a magnolia tree in the fall of 2000. The following spring a strong wind storm blew the little tree over. After that, several sprouts popped up. I let them grow and cut them all except for the two strongest looking ones, thinking if one doesn't make it, I'll still have the other. Both of them are still thriving well and I'm thinking I need to cut one down (the trees are about 6 to 7 feet tall) before they grown much bigger. When would be the best time of year to cut one down? Will cutting down the "twin" traumatize the other? Also, how old does a magnolia tree have to be before it starts putting on blooms?
I personally think you have probably waited a bit long to prune out one of the suckers. I think you were wise to let two grow for the first season as a safety net, but the next year, one should have been removed. I don't think pruning will weaken the remaining plant, however I do wonder about the resulting shape of the tree you leave. When two trees are growing side by side, they compete for space. Often the branches that are closest together on the interior are intertwined and form the basis of the tree. By themselves, they are usually not as shapely and strong as the branches on the outside of the trees, where they are not competing. I would remove the one sprout as soon as possible, and then see what you are left with. It will probably be a bit lopsided. It depends on variety as to when blooming occurs. A standard Southern magnolia can take up to 8 years to begin blooming, while some varieties can begin as early as 3 to 5 years.
(July) We just visited the original 1800's homestead of my husband's family in Georgia. There was a beautiful Magnolia tree there. We gathered what I believe to be seed pods. I would like to try to grow a tree from these. We live in Benton (Saline County). How do I do this?
I am afraid the seed pod you harvested was not fully mature, and therefore will not produce the desired tree. Go back this fall and harvest some seeds or pods then. Magnolias are easily grown from seed, but the seeds usually mature in the fall. The mature pods will turn brown, and begin to open, showing red seeds hanging out. At that point, you can harvest and begin the process. Take the red seeds, remove the outer pulp, then lightly put the seed between a sheet of sandpaper and lightly abrade. Then store the seeds in a plastic bag with moist potting soil in your refrigerator for two to three months, then plant. The combination of scarification (using the sandpaper) and stratification (cool, moist storage) will allow the seeds to germinate. I don't know why the one pod had fallen off already, but they are not ready. If you can't go back to visit, see if a neighbor can send you some mature seeds later this season.
(October) What part of a Magnolia tree is planted to grow another tree? What time of year?
Magnolias can be started from seeds, cuttings or layering. You should be seeing mature, ripe seed pods now. The cones containing the seeds will begin to darken and dry, and the emerging red seeds will be visible. Try to harvest as soon as they are ripe, and begin the process as soon as possible. Don’t store the seeds for later use. Take the seeds and remove the outer pulp. To help break the hard outer seed coat, lightly rub the seeds between a sheet of sand paper. Then place the seeds in a plastic bag filled with moist peat moss or potting soil. Place that in your refrigerator for several months, then pot up and wait for growth. The combination of scarification (the abrading of the outer seed coat) and stratification (the cool, moist storage period) should result in seedlings. Of course, this happens naturally outdoors. You can create a "nursery" bed outside, and plant numerous seeds in the ground, and then wait for them to grow next spring. Cuttings are best taken in June to July from new growth that has gradually hardened off. An easier method than cuttings is to layer some of the lower limbs of the tree. Take a low hanging branch and lightly wound it on the bottom and mound soil over it. Weight it down, and wait until next spring. By then it should have sprouted roots.
(November) Please tell me how to grow magnolias from seeds. I did it last year, but, have forgotten. Seems like it was something like,"put in a bag of dirt and keep in the fridge for X amount of time and then______________! Please help me.
Harvest the magnolia seeds as the red seeds begin to pop out of the cones. Remove the outer red pulp. Magnolias have a very hard outer seed coat. Germination will be helped by scarification -- scarring the outer seed coat. An easy way to do this is to put the seed between two sheets of sandpaper and sand them down a bit. Then stratify -- give them the cool, moist storage period. Put them in a plastic bag in moist potting soil, and store in your refrigerator -- not freezer! for the winter. In the spring, pot them up or plant them outside. They can go through the cool, moist period on their own outdoors, but if you want control over squirrels, the refrigerator works well.
(November) My magnolia tree has gorgeous red cones that I'd like to use in indoor arrangements. Would I be cutting off next summer's blossoms?
No the cones are the fruits and seeds that followed this seasons blooms. They can be decorative, but you can also start new plants from these seeds.
(December) We recently moved into a new home which has a mature Magnolia tree in the front yard. Some of the leaves on the tree have begun to turn brown and fall off! Is this normal for this time of year? I would also like to grow grass under the tree, so I am considering taking off some of the lower limbs. When is the proper time of year to do this?
Magnolias are evergreen plants, but they do tend to shed leaves almost year-round. As long as the leaves that are falling are not from the tips of the branches, this is a natural leaf shed. For this reason, I don't recommend removing lower limbs either. Magnolia trees have such dense shade, that it is difficult to grow anything underneath them. Limbing them up, exposes the surface roots they have, and also shows all the leaf dropping. Letting the limbs grow to the ground, masks the debris and the roots, and also is more attractive than bare soil.
A magnolia grandiflora I planted five or six years ago, is now about four feet tall. It has never bloomed, although new leaves appear and seem quite healthy. Are some magnolias capable of producing flowers while others are not? Is it a question of cross-pollination or will fertilizer help?
Did you plant this from seed or plant? A five or six year old southern magnolia should be taller than four feet. If it was seed planted, it may have gotten a slow start. If it was planted as a container plant, I would guess that something is impeding its growth. In any case, magnolias can take eight years or more to come of age before blooming (some of the "dwarf" types bloom sooner). I would say your tree is in a juvenile stage, and needs to grow more. See if there is some reason for the lack of growth, and correct if possible. Many people also swear by Epson salts on their magnolias.
We have a young sweet bay magnolia, that we planted two years ago, and now stands about eight feet tall. The plant provided us with wonderfully fragrant flowers in the spring. A few weeks ago we noticed clusters of red berries where the flowers had been. Can you tell us whether those berry clusters are seeds from which we might be able o propagate additional plants? When and how should they be planted?
Harvest the seeds soon as they ripen. Remove the pulp and use the seeds while they are fresh, since they do lose viability if they dry out. They need three months of cool, moist, stratification, before they will germinate. This can be achieved in a plastic bag with moist potting soil, left in the refrigerator for the allotted time, or you can prepare a seed bed outside, and plant the seeds outdoors as they ripen. They will get the cool, moist period naturally outdoors. Then they should germinate when the soil warms up. Plant more seeds than you need, since you won’t have 100% success.
I have a few pods from a magnolia tree. How and when do I plant those pretty red seeds? Thanks for any advice you may have for me.
Take the seeds out of the pods, and remove the pulp. then either take some sand paper and lightly rub the seeds, or gently tap the seeds with a hammer. Magnolia seeds have a hard outer coating which you must lightly abrade to help in germination. Then store the seeds in a plastic bag with moist peat moss or potting soil. Place this in the refrigerator for 2 months and then the seeds will be ready to go. You can also achieve the moist, cool (stratification) period naturally by planting the seeds outside in the ground. They should then germinate in the spring.
I have a fifteen year old magnolia tree that I would like to limb up. The branches are growing clear to the ground. When is the best time to remove these branches, and will it hurt the plant to take them off?
The question is, why do you want to remove them? Are you planning to try and grow some grass there, or other ground cover? Do you plan to be able to walk underneath them? I really recommend leaving the low hanging branches for several reasons. First, the shade under a magnolia is so dense, you won’t be able to grow much of anything there. Secondly, they often have very shallow roots growing on the surface, which hurts in competition with other plants, plus can be dangerous to walk upon. Then there is the fact, that they continually shed old leaves. Having low hanging branches will be a better cosmetic cover-up than exposing them. If after all this, you still want to prune, go for it. They can be safely limbed up at any time of the year, and there should be no damage to the tree.
We live in extreme northwest Arkansas. We would like to plant some magnolia trees on our twenty acres. What would be the best time of year to plant, and what species is recommended for this area?
Most of the magnolia species are hardy even in zone 6 where you are, including the southern magnolia–Magnolia grandiflora. Some other choices include sweetbay magnolia, cucumber magnolia, umbrella magnolia and even the saucer and star magnolias will work. Planting can be done almost year-round with container plants, but summers are tough. Fall to early winter is ideal, but dormant season planting is best for balled-in-burlap plants. There are hundreds of cultivars and numerous types available, so experiment. If you have twenty acres, you have lots of room to play. Some species need more sun than others.
We have a huge magnolia tree. It would help if we could prune it because whenever we get sleet storms, the weight breaks the branches. We want to keep the tree looking nice. When is a good time to prune it?
Magnolia’s can be pruned as needed to build structural soundness. However, heavy accumulations of ice can wreak havoc even on a structurally sound tree. If there are broken limbs now, prune to a clean cut. Then wait until after bloom, to prune any more branches. I would not recommend limbing up a magnolia. Magnolias constantly shed old leaves, and exposed roots are also a problem. Allow the branches to go to the ground line.
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