The Q&A Archives: What can I do to revive a magnolia?
Question: I have a Magnolia tree that was doing well while they were building the house. Afterwards, it looked like it was trying to die. I left it be for a year, but the yard has a slope to it and it looked like the ground around it was washing away. I build a box for it and put in about four inches of dirt. Yes, I know the roots need to breath. Anyway, that was about two years ago and the tree has neither died nor started to grow again. There are many dead branches on the lower levels and on the west side, but leaves on the upper levels and on the east side. I thought to try and feed it with muracid (Miracle Grow w/acid). It advertised itself as good for magnolias. After I fed it (perhaps too much), many of the leaves took on a yellow hue that didn't look very good. After all of that, my question is, What can I do to revive a magnolia?
Remove the extra soil from the base of the tree, cleanly prune off dead or damaged branches, and fertilize by drilling deep holes at the soil's drip line (the reach of the branches) and halfway between the drip line and the trunk. Drill holes 2 feet deep and every 4 feet along the circumference. Use a slow-release, granular fertilizer formulated for ornamental trees. Special tools are made for this; check your local hardware store or garden center. You can also buy hose attachments that push a hole in the ground and fertilize at the same time.
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