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Magnolia Tree not settling in.

we have had a Magnolia tree in a pot for a few years now. Each autumn it eases back, we dress it with mulch and keep the compost fresh and topped up and it comes back beautifully. That was until we moved house and the tree seems to be protesting. It gets a good amount of sun, but it is deteriorating by the day and looking very limp and unhealthy. It now seems to be developing an issue with something eating it and I think disease. Can anyone offer some guidance as to what to do to rescue it please? I’ve attached some pics.. even if it needs a good cut down I could just do with some guidance please. Thanks, Duncan. 


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,177
    I think that tree is far too big to be in a pot. It is struggling to survive. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Ahh really? We bought it and were advised it would be fine potted but I fear you may be right. Do you think it would cope better being cut down or do we have to succumb to it not being in a pot any longer.. which will be disappointing given we specifically asked when buying it about keeping it in a large pot. 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,177
    Magnolias don’t respond well to being hard pruned and in any case that would not remove the problem.
    I would plant it in a well prepared spot in the garden and hope that it’s not too far gone. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Will do. Could you maybe offer some guidance how best to prepare the ground for it to give it the best chance to fight back? 
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,687
    Many magnolias prefer neutral to acidic soils, so best check your soil first. Magnolias are tougher than they look. If the soil is heavy and compacted. Turn the soil over and add in compost or well rotted manure to the area you want to plant it in. Let the soil rest a bit and allow the soil to settle. Depending on weather, could be a few days later. Re-work the soil to break it up again. Avoid trying to do that until it’s reasonably dry.

    On free draining soil, work in plenty of rotted manure to help bulk up the soil in the area. 

    Dig a hole around 10cm to 15cm bigger/wider than the diameter of the original pot size and plant at the same soil level. Tease the roots out if it’s pretty pot bound. Helps to free the tangle and minimise roots growing round rather than outwards. Back fill with the soil around it. No need to add in anything else, but some people do add some fertilizer, but I think it’s fine. 

    If you can, finish with a thick layer of bark chip or something similar to seal in moisture, and keep excess damp off the top. You will need to water the plant well throughout the first year or two, especially in the warmer months.
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