The Q&A Archives: Randy Magnolia brown leaves

Question: Hello,

I purchased a Randy magnolia from a local store here that bore a tag from your company. When I first got the plant (Feb/March of 2005) it had beautiful light green leaves, extremely healthy looking. The leaves continued to multiply very quickly and eventually turned to a darker green by summer. The plant still looked very healthy, however, it did not flower, only made more leaves.

Now it is mid-August and many of the leaves have turned partially brown (on the edgemost part to the about halfway of the leaf. It may have gotten a little dry in July but I have tried to give it extra water ever since I noticed this. It is still making a few new light green leaves but 95% of it is dark green leaves and 40% is the browned leaves.

Is this normal or should I be doing something different? If not normal, should I cut the bad leaves off or leave it alone? And do you think it will flower next year? P.S. The plant is is a very large pot.

Thank you very much!
Ashley Vincenti

Answer: Browning of the leaves, especially at the margins, can indicate a fungal disease. Since your magnolia is in a container, it might also indicate salt burn (from built-up minerals in the soil). At this point, I'd continue to water on a regular basis and wait until the weather cools so you can repot it with fresh potting soil and inspect the root system. This fall, repot your magnolia with new potting soil and check the roots - healthy roots will be a creamy white inside; dead or dying roots will be brown or rusty colored. Prune away anything that is not healthy and repot your magnolia. Water it thoroughly after repotting. Wait until spring to do any pruning or fertilizing. When new growth begins in the spring, prune away the dead leaves and a few inches of each stem to encourage the development of healthy new growth. Fertilize lightly with a half-strength dilution of liquid fertilizer, repeating the applications every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Be sure to place your magnolia where it will receive full day sunshine. I think it will bloom for you next year if you follow the above guidelines. Best wishes with your magnolia!

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