Ask a Question forum: How to prune a spindly dwarf southern magnolia 'little gem'

Views: 136, Replies: 1 » Jump to the end
Name: Kate Clarke
Southern Vancouver island (Zone 9a)
Aug 20, 2016 9:44 PM CST
I have a rescued a neglected southern maglolia "little gem". It survived, happy in its new garden home but now I need to promote new growth. Branches are 18-24" long and leaves only on the ends. Branches are sparse. What few leaves there are are now healthy. Tree is about 10' high 3 years old.
I live in zone 8-9. Tree is planted in full sun with irrigation system to water. I had a show of 2 flowers shortly after I transplanted it. 2 branches are green ( this years growth) the rest are older.

How do I prune to promote new growth?
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Aug 21, 2016 6:10 PM CST
Oh my goodness, Kate, welcome to Welcome! I am from Vancouver originally and my brother lives in Coombs BC on your beautiful island there.

Those Southern Magnolia are evergreen here but do lose leaves sort of sporadically throughout the year. To be honest, I wouldn't prune any parts of it off where there are leaves right now. It needs all its leaves to continue recovering and growing and all the sun it can get. Once it's cooled off, days are shorter and the tree is more or less dormant would be the time to do a little pruning.

Could you possibly post a photo or two of your lucky orphan? That will help us to advise you how to prune when the time comes. The Little Gems stay pretty small so at 10ft. your tree may not get much taller, but it will happily get wider and bushier. They don't usually need much pruning at all.

I do hope you're planning how you will protect your lovely little magnolia tree through the winter? Did you plant it in a large pot or is it in the ground? I ask this because if it is in a pot you can then move it to a protected area for the winter months. I'm thinking it's probably not spindly because of neglect, it's probably been seriously set back by the winter weather.

In theory they are hardy in your zone, but . . this is a failing of the whole "zone system" because zone 8 up north where you are is completely different to zone 8 down here in the Deep South where these trees thrive. The reason is that your nights are many hours longer and your days are so much shorter there. So if the low temperature gets down to 30deg. F on a winter's night, well here it will be that low for maybe 2 hours but where you are it will stay cold for 6 to 8 hours. Also our ground temperature down here stays warm because our days are warm and sunny and longer in winter than yours. It's the difference between a plant freezing or not freezing.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

« Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by cocoajuno and is called "Here's looking at you."