Question of the Week: May 17, 2018

“Neil, I’m worried about my magnolia tree and why it’s dropping so many leaves. Is there something wrong with it? What should I do?”

We at the Sperry house feel your pain. This is our deck, and these are our magnolia’s leaves only two days after blowing. Am I worried? Read on…

This is absolutely normal behavior…
No plant is truly evergreen forever. Pine needles litter the forest floors of East Texas. If you look beneath your ligustrums and hollies right now, you’ll find recently fallen leaves as the new growth replaces them.

And so it is with magnolias. They’re in the middle of the annual leaf change-out. The leaves that are falling were produced in 2017. They saw the heat, and they saw the drought. They saw the cold, and they saw the rains (for those of us who have had them). If you’d been out in the weather as long as they have, you’d be looking pretty grizzled, too.

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Having taken gardeners’ calls for the past 48 years, 41 of them on my radio programs, I’ve learned that about the third week of April I’m going to start getting magnolia questions from South Texas and by the middle of May they’ll be coming in by the dozens from all over the state.

So if it’s any consolation, every southern magnolia in Texas, even Neil’s and Lynn’s Little Gem over their deck, has been losing leaves right and left. It’s absolutely normal, and your only call to action is to apply an all-nitrogen, lawn-type fertilizer (no weedkiller included!) around it and water it deeply.

Simple as that.

Note: In case you’re overly fastidious, our house (which may look a little gray around the edges in the photo above) will be given its annual bath in the next couple of weeks – after all the dust and pecan pollen finally abate.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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