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Magnolia Soulangeana help!

Hi

(Shortened version at bottom)

I have a Magnolia Soulangeana in the front garden that I bought circa 3/4 years ago. It had been completely healthy until earlier this year, where I noticed that one of the main stems/branches had a section that had been stripped back revealing the inside. I don’t know any technical terms, but I could see an inside tube, so it seemed like the outer layer on this 2 inch or so section had been completely stripped. 

I googled, and saw somewhere recommend to cover the section securely with moss and see how it goes. Well I did that. But now I have a tree where anything/any branches UNDER the damage are growing fine with lots of new shoots, but anything OVER the damage, including on other branches/stems have seemingly died, with no leaves, dried dusty buds, and completely brown inside when pruned.

Anyway, I started pruning away the dead bits today. But I’m stuck on what to do with the leader. At the bottom it has some shoots coming off it, but at the top it seems completely dead. I want the magnolia to be a tree not a shrub, but I don’t want the whole thing to die. Do I cut the leader back to where new shoots are growing? Or do I leave it as is, maybe cut of some branches just leaving the stem, and hope it revives back next year? 

Extra info: the magnolia is probably about 6 and 1/2 feet tall. I also think the damage was either caused by deer or rabbits.

Please help I don’t want it to die :(

too long didn’t read —— Severe damage to magnolia. Above damage seems dead, under seems alive with new growth. Do I cut leader back to new growth and then have to live with it as shrub, or keep leader and hope that because it has growth at bottom the top may recover? 

The leader by the way wasn’t the one that was damaged.

Thanks

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Posts

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 72,019
    Hello and welcome to the forum 😊 
    Any chance of a few photos?
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • Hello and welcome to the forum 😊 
    Any chance of a few photos?
    Hi thanks!
    and yes I have attached some.

    excuse the black marks, was trying to block out neighbours numberplates lol!

    the damaged branch is the original damage that was done


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 72,019
    My understanding is that the majority of magnolias sold nowadays … I’m afraid that looks as if the graft has failed or is failing. 

    I suspect that if you look at the graft point, the majority of the healthy growth will be coming from the rootstock. 
     

    I would remove and replace it. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • My understanding is that the majority of magnolias sold nowadays … I’m afraid that looks as if the graft has failed or is failing. 

    I suspect that if you look at the graft point, the majority of the healthy growth will be coming from the rootstock. 
     

    I would remove and replace it. 
    Hi

    Thanks for your reply, I will have a look tomorrow, but I’m not sure it is that. Some of the lower branches that were there before haven’t been affected, and also the new shoots etc are definitely magnolia shoots. If it was the graft failing and the rootstock sending out shoots, wouldn’t they be a different tree? So different leaves?

    But yeah I will definitely have a look tomorrow, I hope it isn’t that :((

    thanks again!
  • Just looked up that most magnolias are grafted onto other magnolias, so guess they would be same leaves! Upsetting, but praying it isn’t a grafting failure.

    come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a grafting point on it, but I’ll find it tomorrow! 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,640
    I'd agree - what you have is the growth below the graft, so the shrub you bought is no longer alive.
    What's there could be anything, but still a Magnolia. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....




  • Hi

    Thanks Fairygirl for your comment.

    A question for you both. Above I have attached pictures of the bottom of the trunk to try and find any grafting point, even digging down a bit in the bed, but I can’t see any? Is it just me, can you two see any?

    Either way, the new growth is all above the fork where the trunk splits into two stems, and surely any graft would have to be below this? So any growth above the fork on the two stems would be the Soulangeana? 

    Anyway, thanks for all your help! I’m just gonna wait and see, even if I do end up with a different magnolia!
    As a last question, would it harm the tree to leave the leader even if it looks dead? I still want it tree shaped so hoping it my come back. If not I’ll prune it back next spring and try to use another stem as a new leader.

    thanks! 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 72,019
    edited 16 September
    Is there a similar amount of new growth on both of the two stems? Do the leaves look the same on both trunks?

    Which trunk is the one with the dead stem on?
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 15,341
    I'd assume that it was a rooted cutting to start with, I can't see a graft point there, so I would just prune off the dead wood, and let the rest grow.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • Is there a similar amount of new growth on both of the two stems? Do the leaves look the same on both trunks?

    Which trunk is the one with the dead stem on?
    The left trunk had the damaged/dead stem on it. But since that got damaged both trunks had the top parts of the tree die back. 

    Both stems have a similar amount of new growth on them, and the leaves are the same. The only difference between leaves is that the older leaves are a darker green, but this is the same on both trunks. Other than that all is the same.

    I cut all the dead stems to new growth back except for the leader (which is on the right side), which I don’t know what to do with.

    i should mention as well that there was a bad frost at the time of the damage as well I don’t know if that could have had an impact?

    thanks!
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