The Q&A Archives: Southern Magnolia sparse foliage

Question: I have a dwaft southern magnolia planted in the spring of 2004. This year it has many many blooms but the limbs are far apart and the leaves that are there keep falling off. It is not a lush tree that I expected. What can I do to increase the density of this tree?

Answer: Based on your description, I suspect what you are seeing may be normal. These trees do naturally lose some of the older foliage each year, there is a concentrated drop in the late spring/early summer and then some ongoing loss throughout the season. The new growth will look a bit widely spaced, but as the tree ages those branches will look more in proportion. This is a bit like the teenage years in people. If you are concerned about the shape it is taking and its overall health you might want to consult with your local professional nurseryman and/or county extension to see if they think it is progressing well. Good luck wiht your magnolia!

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