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Unhappy Magnolia Grandiflora: frost damage?

There is a Magnolia Grandiflora in my garden, about 1 metre 60 high (I don't know how old that makes it), which was here when I moved in. It's in a nicely sunny spot, but is currently not looking good. 

One or two tiny branches have definitely died, the others are either green, or more usually, brownish or greyish towards the tips. ONe of the buds (the only largish one - about the size of a ping-pong ball) has gone black. The other tiny new buds are a coppery brown colour, as are some of the leaves, a few of which have holes in them.

Looking around this site it seems that this must largely be down to frost damage. Is there anything I can/should do to rescue the tree?

WHen I moved here the magnolia was quite advanced, and I noticed that it didn't produce a lot of flowers. I assumed this was because it was young, but might it just have been unhealthy?



  • That variety really needs a sheltered spot.  If it's in an open position, it will suffer badly from frost and cold winds.  They also don't like early morning sun and should really be staked throughout their life.  In other words, they're a bit fussy!

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Ah. That is of course bad. How old might it be? Should I attempt to move it?

  • If you have a more sheltered spot, say somewhere in a sunny corner where a fence, hedge or wall will shade it from the early morning sun (ie with a fence/hedge/wall to its East), you would probably be OK to move it now.  If you do, prepare a fairly large (say, 1m x 1m, 2 spades deep) hole first, digging-in plenty of compost, drive in a good hardwood (eg oak) tree stake, then try and take as much of the rootball with the tree as you can when you dig it up.  Re-plant the tree so that the base of the trunk is at the same ground level as it was when you back-fill the hole.  Finally, tie the stem to the stake with a tree-tie.  You'll need to keep it well watered for the rest of the year, watering at least once a week.

    An alternative to moving it may be to plant a large shrub a few feet away to the East to provide the morning shade and give it a bit of shelter.  It's difficult to know how old it is, but if it is only 2 or 3 years old, there's a good chance it will survive being moved.  Before doing anything though, could you upload a photo of it in ithe current location?  For all we know, it might already be in a suitable place and may have some other problem!

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • It sounds like a fairly new tree, maybe 5 years old. I've got a 22 year old one and I remember that for the first 7-8 years it did not have many flowers on it. It's worth the wait though as my one is about 15ft high and has about 40 flowers on each year. Your one sunds a bit poorly and may need some TLC.

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