Magnolia Trees

sav2005(7)February 18, 2006

I planted 2 magnolia trees that are growing on a trellis and are shaped like fans. They were planted mid summer last year and did beautifully, blomming up until November.

Two questions:

1. I have never seen a magnolia like these,(growing on a trellis). Does anyone know anything about them, i.e., how big will thet get,prunning to keep shape, etc.

2. We have just been transferred from Atlanta to B'ham, and have sold our home in Atlanta. We are building a new home in B'ham that will not be ready until end of summer.I want to move the trees and leave in pots, then plant at new home. What is chance of survival? I love them and they were very expensive. If they may not survive, I would rather leave with new owners to enjoy.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

As a rule, magnolia do not like having their roots disturbed. Their root system is quite different from that of most other woody plants. Small trees might be able to be dug and transplanted safely, though the chances of survival would increase if the roots were pruned several months in advance. My humble opinion is that you should leave these two trees where they are, and make sure that you obtain two more for your new home! That way, there will be 4 such specimens in the world, instead of maybe none.

To answer your other question, I would assume that your espaliered or trellised magnolia are 'Little Gem', which is often mistakenly thought of as a dwarfed plant. With some clever pruning, more and more as the plant matures, they can be grown in the espalier style. Some people like it quite a bit.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 4:08PM
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Thanks so much. I am going to take your advice and leave them for the new owners.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 5:47PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I think that's the best plan, don't you? Especially since the success of the projects is 'iffy'. I know that we get attached to certain plants in our landscaping, but it just doesn't make any sense to try to take things with you that might not survive the transition. Especially when those plants seem to be thriving where they are.

Good luck with your move.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 3:52PM
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New deveopment since my last post. The buyers for our house came yesterday to do the appraisal and indicated that they were going to put up a fence. The trees would be right in the fence line as I planted them as a screen between both sides of the house in the back yard. So I have decided to chance moving them. There would not be another spot for the new owners to tranplant them in the yard. We offered to replace the sod after we dig them up and they agreed. I didn't know anything about magnolias when I purchased them except that I loved them (the southern belle in me I guess). Besides the landscaping that the builder planted, we also planted a red bud tree which is also doing great, and is already budding, 37 encore azaleas, as well as 2 crepe myrtles, 5 rose bushes, 2 juniper trees and 2 holly bushes, also doing well. Our only fatality was an October Glory maple. The garden shop replaced and the 2nd one is alive and healthy. I think we had beginners luck with our planting, we knew nothing about planting trees and shrubs. I am thrilled to be moving back to Birmingham, as all of our family are there, but disappointed that we will not be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor, having only been in this home for 2 years. Also, the hard work and expense of starting landscaping over at a new home. Thanks for the best wishes on the move. Now I'll really need luck to move these trees.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 4:46PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Most fatalities during the transplanting process are caused by damage to the root system. One of THE most important steps is to make sure that the root ball do NOT dry out. Put them into large containers immediately, or have someone on hand who knows how to do a ball and burlap job. Keep them mulched and moist. During the transportation, make sure that they do not sit in an open truck for even a sort distance.

Think positive! Now that the situation has changed, your efforts to save these plants are worth the effort! If not successful, you will have learned something at the very least.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fact sheet

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 10:35AM
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Thanks Rhizo for all your encouragement. I will move the trees as you suggested. I actually had the same advice from someone in the conifers forum. I'll let you know how my trees survived the move and hopefully the re-planting.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 4:20PM
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Whenever we move the larger trees, like a 15 ft Bradford, I set it in a large trash can with water well over the roots and sprayed every other day the whole tree with water. My daughter just planted it and it is even blooming. It will be hard to get all of the main root (tap root) but get as much as you possibly can. The feeder roots are extremely important as they do exactly that - feed the tree.
By letting it soak a couple of days, it wii take all the water to revive it. Then be sure you dig the hole deep and wide enough to accomodate the roots. Fill the hole with water where the ground will be saturated where the roots can spread easier when you plant it.
This has always worked for me. When transporting, take old blankets and completely saturate with water and wrap around the roots. This stops them from drying out. The drying out is what causes the worst shock to where you usually lose the tree or shrub.
I know this is a bit different but it works.
Lynn in Prattville

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 9:25PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Lynn, I sort of think that you've been lucky with that soaking treatment. Placing recently dug woody plants in a big tub of water would never be something that I would recommend, nor have I ever heard of such a thing. The 'feeder roots', as you call them are those shallow, non-woody roots where the root hairs are borne. I doubt that being dunked in a tub of water will help much and would certainly be harmful if the plant remains submerged for too awfully long.

Tap roots are something of a myth, Sharon. Don't worry about that at all. I do like that old blanket idea, though. As a matter of fact, if you do end up having to move these plants in an open truck, you could safely do that by wrapping them up completely in wet blankets.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 12:16PM
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Thanks Rhizo

We are going to rent a u-haul to transport all of my plants, pots, rose bushes (I have already transplanted to pots before the new owners came to do inscpection), garden gear etc. so the trees will not be in an open truck.

Couple of questions....If we did the burlap method, do we then plant in pot with burlap attached? Also, once we get the trees to my Mom's house in B'ham where we will be staying until new house is complete, where is the best place to put the trees? Will they need full sun or would it be better to place in part sun? How often do we water and should we feed them? Any other special instructions?

We will have sod in backyard and then natural woods after end of sod line in new house.....I'm not sure that I will need the screen effect of the trellis in new house. Could these trees be planted in front of where the woods begin so that I can see them from my deck and allowed to grow as a regular tree if removed from trellis? How big will they get?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 12:48PM
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Well, Rhizo, I leave them 24 hrs or 48 max in the water to let them soak up moisture. Considering that I've done this with all trees and shrubs for years and never lost a one, I thought I would share. Sorry, won't happen again, I'm not going to argue with you.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 8:49PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Sharon, you won't have to use a pot if you are going to cover the ball with burlap. But if using a container for ease of transport, I would certainly keep the burlap on it. Anything you can do to avoid additional stress to that root mass is important. No dragging it, or hoisting it by the trunk, etc. You wouldn't believe how many trees are damaged by improper handling!

If these plants are going to be out of the ground for awhile, place them in a protected location out of full sun and any strong winds. Cover the top of the burlap (if in a pot) or the whole root ball with pine straw to avoid drying. You must keep everything moist, but don't soak that root ball. Water the burlap everyday to keep it wet so that it doesn't wick moisture away from the soil. I wouldn't fertilize at all.

If you are going to be planting them in full sun, you should probably expose them to this in stages so that they don't burn to a crisp. Certainly you can remove the trellis and let them do their own thing. Hot weather transplanting will be a real stress, so hopefully all of this will take place in the fall or winter.

If these are 'Little Gem' magnolias, they will slowly grow to 30 feet or more by 15 feet (or so). People that say that these plants will only grow to 15 feet are one hundred percent wrong!

When planting, keep the burlap on until the plant is in the hole (which should be a very wide, dish-shaped hole with NO amendments) and then carefully cut away as much as you can, especially from the top. Some recommend that you can simply fold all of the burlap down into the hole, but I'd prefer that you remove as much as possible without disturbing the roots.

Here's where I say," good luck, because you're going to need it, right?" lol! I've got my fingers crossed for you, but don't get discouraged if they don't make it. Even knowledgeable professionals don't like to move established magnolias.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 11:36AM
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Thanks for all your help and I'll keep you posted. I remember when the Beau Rivage Casino/Resort opened in Biloxi, MS. They had beautiful magnolia trees planted in the lobby. The next time we stayed there, probably 2 years later, they were all gone. I asked someone what was up and they said they all died. The ones that were planted outside around the property were all beautiful however. We were there the weekend before Katrina, and I was sitting outside on the terrace where the coffee shop was thinking how beautiful they were. So sad, they are all gone now, along with so many of the magnificent and ancient live oak trees along the MS Gulf Coast. What am I thinking to take on this endeavor....... lol!


    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 2:00PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You are doing the right thing. It's as simple as that.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 10:23PM
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