The Q&A Archives: Burnt magnolia leaves and petals

Question: Hi,
I have 2 small magnolia trees in my front lawn, facing West (lots of sun). One I think is a stelleta and the other is the soulangia. Last summer both are experiencing burnt brown leaves and petals. They are both starting to bloom now and I noticed that the stellata white petals are a little brown again. Is it the sun or something else? Please advise. Thanks!

Answer: The browning petals are probably a result of environmental conditions. Sometimes the first and/or last blooms of the season don't have the right conditions to flower properly. Or, the problem could indicate a fungal disease. A final possibility is a population of Japanese Beetles. Japanese beetles attack magnolia flowers in June and July. They feed on the petals and stamens. The edges of the petals first become ragged, then the flowers turn brown and curl. Without being able to see the problem, it's difficult to make a definite diagnosis. You might want to take an affected flower to your local nursery and ask the professionals there to inspect the damage. They should be able to diagnose the problem and suggest remedies. Best wishes with your magnolia trees.

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