Magnolia Trees - Knowledgebase Question

Quinlan, Te
Avatar for hollyklaus
Question by hollyklaus
July 28, 2010
I have two Magnolia Trees. The tops have no leaves and the branches appear dead but maybe not. The bottom branches have plenty of leaves and bloom too. The trunk has colored spots, white, green, light grey. What's wrong and what can I do?

Answer from NGA
July 28, 2010
Many varieties of magnolia trees suffer dieback at the top portions of the tree in freezing temperatures so you may be seeing winter kill or die back. Hardwood trees have the capability to form new leaf buds when this happens. I would water the tree and let the old leaves fall on their own. If you do have some top kill and if so this part can be pruned off later after you are sure it is dead. You can scrape a little bark off an upper outer branch and if the color under the bark is green the branch is still alive and should bud out. If the color under the bark is brown the branch is dead at that point on the branch--continue down the branch scraping at intervals until you find green or reach the trunk. If the color is brown that branch is dead and can be pruned off. If you are not sure just wait and see if it buds out in a month or so.

The mottled color on the trunk and branches is normal for some trees so it should not cause alarm. When the tree matures a little more and the bark hardens, the mottling won't be quite so obvious.

Good luck with your trees.

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