The Q&A Archives: Dry, sickly magnolia tree

Question: What can I do to revive my magnolia tree? It is growing on the edge of my water feature and this Spring it didn't flower and the seed pods are dry . The leaves are also not as healthy as in the past! It is growing in mostly clay soil. What do I need to improve this tree's health?

Answer: Magnolias lose a number of leaves in the spring, they they turn brown or golden before they drop. Some years they will drop more than others; it depends somewhat on the growing conditions the previous year. Magnolias do well in an evenly moist yet well drained soil, meaning not sopping wet or soggy. The pH should be slightly acidic which I would expect it to be naturally in your area. An annual top dressing of good quality compost and possibly an application of a complete, granular or slow release fertilizer with an analysis of 10-10-10 or similar proportions should be adequate. Be sure to read and follow the label instructions. For a more detailed fertilizer recommendation you would need to run some basic soil tests and then fertilize as indicated by the test results. Your local county extension should be able to help you with the testing, interpreting the results with an eye on growing a magnolia tree. Enjoy your tree!

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