Help needed w/ sick magnolia (yellow leaves)

smo5n(7 AL)April 30, 2004

Hello - First of all, thank you to anyone who can help me with my question! This is my first spring in my first house, and one of my favorite things about the house was the large Southern Magnolia right in the backyard.

Well - the leaves have started turning yellow and falling off - significant loss of leaves. Also, there are brownish/black spots on the underneath of the leaves. There is some new growth at the very ends of each of the limbs - but overall, the tree is looking very sick. I've been trying to give it extra water over the past 2 weeks, and have fertilized with miracle-acid once. Any idea what is wrong with the tree?

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lynned(z7B GA)

I also have-and LOVE the mature S. Magnolia we have in the far corner of our property. Have had the tree on another property and that one and the current one always started dropping yellow leaves this time of year-horrible litter problem-but aside from that no ill effects to the tree. I just presumed it was last years leaves being shed for the new ones. I have seen this occur on a number of magnolias in the area and think-hope-it is just natures way of out with the old and in with the new!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2004 at 3:51PM
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This is what magnolias and a number of other broadleaf evergreens do in spring. As lynn said, "out with the old and in with the new". Don't worry.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2004 at 3:59PM
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janet_la(z8b Louisiana)

I posted this same question on the tree forum a couple of weeks ago, and got the same answer. I wouldn't worry about it.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 2:54PM
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Since magnolias don't lose their leaves in the fall, they must make room for new growth in the spring. It is just the way they work. Mulching under a magnolia with the leaves is a good idea too, to put nutrients back in the soil. All evergreen magnolias look a little peaked this time of the year, and of course, extend the raking season for us! It's all good.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 9:44PM
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When they shed their leaves in the spring it is also the time for their flowers to begin appearing. Saw the first bloom on one of mine a few days ago.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2004 at 1:35AM
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smo5n(7 AL)

Thank you everyone for your informational words of encouragement! I'll just rake them up and wait for the blooms!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 10:13AM
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I recently bought a magnolia too. I planted it about a month or so ago. My leaves are turning yellow and falling off, there are also some with black spots on them. Is it ok? The flowering is all through for this year. What is wrong with it? Thanks for your help

    Bookmark   July 20, 2004 at 12:03PM
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cancoi(z6a OH)

I also have this problem with my M. liliflora "Ann" but it didn't start until mid-summer.

the leaves started out green but now have turned yellow and almost look slightly spotted.

We just planted this in the spring -- any thoughts?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 11:48AM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

It will be fine and will lose quite a bit of it's leaves every third year.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 10:34PM
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mikeatle(z7 TN)

I have a sick looking "little gem" magnolia that has been in the ground for a couple of years. Many leaves have fallen and a bunch of the leaves on the tree are turning black and brown. One blossom has turned brown and furry without opening. It was white and pristine just the other day. Could this be some sort of disease? If so, what should I do?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2004 at 6:36PM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

mikeatle, this sounds out of the norm for a 'little gem', as it is one of the cleaner magnolias. I get very little leaf drop from mine. If it were an important part of my landscape I might consider contacting an arborist.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 10:29AM
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scgardener(z7 SC)

I finally determined that the problems I had with my magnolia several years back were caused by the selective herbacide I had put out on the grass around the tree. I haven't put any out since, and the tree has greatly improved.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 9:00PM
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RainbowLake(z7 OK)

I was told by a nursury man that it is good to work about a half cup of epsom salts into the soil around magnolias. He said that it helps them absorb nutrients from the soil. Actually this helps Roses also.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2004 at 11:47AM
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timetina(Vic Aust)

Planted hedge of 'little gem' magnolias approx 2.5 years ago (13 trees each about 5ft high, so a considerable expense involved). In last 6 months we've lost 3 trees (random selection along the hedge line, not next to each other). Rapid deterioration - about 5-6 weeks - after onset of browning leaves to older growth (new growth continued for some time before tree succumbed). We've had a couple of independent arborists look at the stock with suggestions that some sort of bacteria (probably in the stock from the original nursery) is to blame, but no acurate diagnosis.

Recent advice from fellow keen gardener suggests possible Armillaria infection (2 x 10M cyprus pines located near effected trees, one recently felled and stump removed). After recent heavy rains (November) considerable erruption of honey-coloured mushrooms appeared along potential root zone from felled cyprus. This is scary. We don't want to lose any more of our babies. Can anyone give us some ideas? PLLLEEEEAASE.

Soil is quite sandy so drainage is good and the trees get a good soaking twice a week. The area is mulched.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2004 at 2:58AM
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I have a 5' patio gardenia which we planted in early March that is exhibiting the same signs (yellow leaves with brown spots). Is this normal for gardenias as well?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 2:00PM
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I am sick! I'm losing several beautiful Bracken's Brown Beauties. NOT yellow leaves, we're talking dark brown and drooping leave.

Trees are near easement. Either the county (which is always so very helpful!!!!:( :( :( when it comes to killing plants, sprayed a strong herbiside on the easement to knock down tall weeds, or Scott's lawn service killed them with herbiside. Magnolias along border of easement. I'm betting it was county!!! Past experience. I planted Carolina jasmine to help control erosion and create beauty on the culvert, put out 75 plants. Lot of work, no small expense. Some fool from the county hit it with kill-all herbicide.

Yes, high grass should have been mowed. But I can't do it because the sides of the ditch / easement are so steep and difficult to mow. I've almost turned the lawn mower over on myself several times trying to mow it. My husband doesn't have any problem mowing it, but absolutely won't get around to doing it! Hence the county herbicide spraying. And now killing I don't know how many of my beautiful magnolias.

I'm real angry. Having a terrible day. Really. I loved /babies all those trees! Nothing but a crime to kill them!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 10:27AM
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animal_lover_in_wa(zone 8)

Mine has white spots on the leaves and they are turning yellow, then brown. I read about scale hitting Magnolia's. It said to treat horticultural oil.

The tree looks really bad and it has only been in the ground for 9 months (7 ft tall).

I will update later on how the oil works.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 6:55PM
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Hi everyone,

I know this is an old thread, but I'm having this problem too with my magnolia leaves being very yellow. However, I don't think it's necessarily just "because it's spring" and the leaves are shedding...

This magnolia used to have its roots entangled in our sewer line. We had extensive plumbing repairs done to the sewer (whereby it was completely replaced and all the roots cut out of it, etc.) and since that time, the magnolia has seemed to suffer. How can I resuscitate it? I've been trying extra waterings thinking that the thing it's missing is the extra moisture it used to be getting from the rootball that was cut out of the sewer, but it doesn't seem to be helping at all. What sort of fertilizer might be good? I've seen some fertilizer spikes for trees that I've thought about; would those work?

Any help at all would be much appreciated ~

Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 3:43PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Anytime you dig into the roots of a plant, it's going to take time to recover. The extra watering is fine, but the tree is probably still in shock from losing roots. It may take some time to recover. You could call a tree company to do some deep fertilizing. I had to have a company come out to take out a dead tree and treat the others. If the tree is valuable to you, it might be worth at least a consult.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 9:00AM
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I am having trouble also. I planted my magnolia this past spring it was beautiful for maybe 3 mnths then out of no where yellow leaves now its looking real bad!!! It also has brown spots all over the leaves and their dropping quick! HELP!!!!!! Plz

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 11:30AM
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We bought a home a few years ago in S. GA and I immediately noticed the magnolia tree had a very thin canopy and appeared skimpy. I automatically assumed the previous homeowner neglected it. (Improper pruning, no fertilizer, not watering properly). Three years later, there is no improvement. It drops leaves when it is supposed to. It blooms in the spring. Leaves appear healthy. Gets plenty of sunlight. I called a licensed arborist and he had no clue and suggested he cut it down (thank goodness his advice was free.)
Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:37PM
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Magnolia grandiflora is not a high maintenance tree in my experience, except for the Spring leaf drop cleanup. I do fertilize it with HollyTone in Spring and more lightly in Autumn. I have only needed to water newly planted ones. Is your tree in root competition with other plants. They are shallow rooted trees, so there should not really be competing plants. Of course, for a vigorous tree, the canopy beneath would be too dark for most anything to grow.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:47PM
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There is no competing landscape nearby that I think is competing with the magnolia. I did speak with a local nursery owner and he suggested that I spread 10-10-10 around the outer most limbs. repeat with Borax. Wait 2-3 months for any improvement. I'll try to post a picture for comparison. In the mean time, Im going to have the soil tested.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 12:41PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Borax? I don't think so! Perhaps epsom salts?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 6:31PM
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