Magnolia tree unwell 😭

hollycrogershollycrogers LondonPosts: 6
Does anyone know what this could be? All the leaves on my Magnolia tree have discoloured over the winter and some have nonstarted to drop off. I can’t remember exactly what type of Magnolia it is, but it’s young enough that it’s never flowered....It’s 
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  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 23,653
    Hello hollycrogers and welcome to the forum.
    Is your magnolia growing in the ground or in a pot?
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • hollycrogershollycrogers LondonPosts: 6
    Thanks Ladybird4. It’s in a big pot..... it’s been in there for 2 years. It’s watered but not waterlogged (I don’t think!)
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,256
    Looks like it's in a pot.   Is it planted in ericaceous compost?  Do you water it with rain or tap water?  Do you feed it?

    The yellowing on some of the leaves might indicate it is chlorotic which means that calcium present in either the compost or the water is preventing the plant form absorbing iron and magnesium and it has become anaemic which, in turn, prevents the leaves form photosynthesise properly so it starves. 

    Assuming this is the case, the solutions are to replace its compost with ericaceous compost and then give it a liquid tonic of chelated or sequestered iron at the roots.   You can buy this in good garden centres.   Then you need to give ita foliar feed by using a watering can with a spray nozzle and pouring over a solution of 15m of Epsom salts in 5litres of water.

    If your tap water is hard, install a water butt on a downpipe from a gutter and collect rainwater for future watering.  Make sure it is kept moist, but not sodden, in July, August and September as this is when the flowers form.   Giving it an annual feed of slow release rose or tomato feed or ericaceous feed in spring will help with flower formation.

    In case you're wondering, I have done all this with a failing deciduous magnolia we inherited with this new garden 2.5 years ago.  In our first spring here it had just a dozen flowers on one branch and very scrappy foliage.   Bags of ericaceous compost and ericaceous feed later it was covered in hundreds of blooms last spring.   Too early to tell yet this year.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 23,653
    edited 15 March
    Good tips there from Obelixx. Not all Magnolias will be happy growing in a pot and if that is a section of the pot I can see to the left of the last picture then it could be that the roots are too warm. Dark colours absorb the sun's warmth which is not liked by many plants as they can 'cook'. For similar reasons metal pots should be avoided for large shrubs.
    It is normal at this time of year for magnolias to lose their old leaves, making way for the new leaves to emerge.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,256
    Sorry for the typos.   Agree with LB about the small dark pot.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 2,881
    All good advice so far. I know you mentioned large pot, but it might be best to post a photo of the whole plant and pot just to get an idea of the scale. Planting in pots can stress shrubs more when the weather is dry and hot like last year and in winter, it's very easy to have drainage issues. Make sure your pots stand on some pot feed over winter to avoid these issues. Check the bottom of your pots to see if they are clogged up to be sure.

    I do think your leaves are a bacterial leaf spot infection and will in time drop off, which is part of the natural cycle of evergreen leaves. They thrive in plants with poor air circulation, and water splashing within the plant or neighbouring plants can spread it around. It's very important to promptly remove dead leaves around the pot base throughout this period.

    Avoid having your plant too near over hanging trees or shrubs if possible. Make sure it is somewhere sunny and sheltered. I even recommend you scrape the top inch of soil carefully and re-lay a new layer of soil. Stick with a loam based soil with some grit to help for drainage.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 13,197
    It could be a Magnolia grandiflora if it has leaves on at this time of year. Although it is evergreen , it still sheds leaves.  A Magnolia grandiflora needs to be in the ground if you want it to flower.  It does look like some sort of fungal infection. Remove any damaged/diseased leaves.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • hollycrogershollycrogers LondonPosts: 6

  • hollycrogershollycrogers LondonPosts: 6
    What amazing responses Obelixx, Borderline, Fidgetbones and Ladybird4. This is all great info.

    The pot is actually plastic but I think I will plant it out as you all suggest, and try your compost and feed Obelixx. I can’t check to see if the bottom is clogged, it’s too heavy but I bet you’re right Borderline. And Fidgetbones, yes I remember now, it is grandiflora. It seems as though all the leaves are infected shall I remove all of them? Poor tree!

    really appreciate everyone’s help!
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 2,881
    edited 15 March
    I'm afraid that pot is just too small for your plant. These Magnolias will eventually get very big and judging by its size, quite tall already. I would avoid planting bulbs etc around the base until the leaf spot situation gets sorted. If possible, re-pot to a much larger size pot. Raise the pot off the patio floor. But long term, they can be planted in the ground and will do fine if you place it near a southerly wall or some sort of back protection on one side. No need to try and take the leaves off, I suspect they will eventually fall off. Improve the growing conditions, and the plant will start to put on more growth and new leaves later in the year.
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