Japanese Magnolia

This post, “Japanese Magnolis” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

One of nicest signs of late winter or early springtime is the emergence of the Japanese Magnolia’s flowers.  This small deciduous tree is also known as the Saucer Magnolia.  They are now blooming all over the neighborhood.  I do not have one in my garden, but one of my neighbors has two of them right next to our adjoining property line.  So, I get to enjoy the blooms every year.

These trees make a very dramatic display since the flowers appear before the leaves.  The ones next door are about eighteen feet tall and are prolific bloomers.  When the flowers open, they remind me of tea cups sitting up on the tree branches.  Another thing I like about this magnolia is the color of the flowers.  The pink blossoms are so striking against a bright blue sky as well as a gray one.


These are very old trees.  They were about the same size as they are now when we moved in 30 years ago.  The original owner did a fantastic job pruning these trees.  Their leafless branches make for an interesting winter scene.

The showy blooms are about five to six inches across with a very pale pink interior and a dark pink exterior.  Some of the flowers are on low branches so the individual bloom can be seen and enjoyed.


I think these flowers are so lovely.  I even enjoy them when they fall on the ground.  All the pink petals on the green lawn make a pleasing still life picture.



  1. Robin said,

    February 21, 2008 at 9:09 am

    That is a lovely flower! I don’t think I’ve seen a closeup of the flowers before.

    They are lovely, aren’t they. They are large and bloom when few other things are so they really stand out.

  2. layanee said,

    February 21, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Those are beautiful blooms, so fresh and delicate yet sturdy at the same time! Are they fragrant?

    I have read where they are fragrant, but either it is very mild or the ones around here aren’t. Maybe the newer varieties are more fragrant.

  3. flowergardengirl said,

    February 22, 2008 at 1:31 am

    I first fell in love with them on the lawn of the commandants house at West Point NY. It is a very old specimen and spectacular. So I have 4 of them. They are very hardy. Our late spring cold keeps nipping the buds though.

    I guess we are far enough South that this never happens. It is disappointing not to have the flowers after all the anticipation.

  4. February 28, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Beautiful flowers. Saucer magnolias are hardy “up here” and so many people plant the pink variety. They are stunning specimen trees.

    These flowers are spectacular. They are so large compared to the flowers that are blooming at the same time as they are.

  5. dan said,

    April 23, 2008 at 7:35 am

    I just planted one of these about 10 feet from my driveway and 10-15 from my house. Is this far enough away so that when it grows up it wont touch the house? Also After planting I’ve read that it MUST be protected from wind. Just about everywhere on my property gets high winds almost daily. Is the wind a factor because it will blow the flowers off? So far, it seems the flowers hang on 2-3 days and then turn brown and fall off but always has new buds following..is this normal or should I try to find a less windy spot?

  6. Jan said,

    April 24, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    The distance should be okay. You may have to trim a little as it gets bigger, but these trees are not very large. The ones around here are about 15 feet across. So if yours gets that big, there should be some space between the house and it. If you just planted it and are worried it will get too large, now may be the time to move it. We do not have that much wind here, but the flowers only last about three days. They are not long lasting like the large magnolia’s flowers are. You don’t say where you are located, but generally, I think your tree should do well.

  7. dan said,

    April 25, 2008 at 7:18 am

    I’m in central florida. It looks like the flowers have stopped growing now. I don’t know if its done or should I expect more to bloom this spring?

  8. Jan said,

    April 25, 2008 at 7:26 am

    These trees bloom only in the early spring, so you won’t be getting any more blooms now. The leaves should be coming out now.

  9. dan said,

    May 2, 2008 at 7:09 am

    do they ONLY bloom in late winter early spring? the rest of the year its all leaves? and do they lose the leaves in the fall?

    • Shell said,

      June 21, 2010 at 5:32 am

      It’s late June and mine are blooming right now. Although it is not as heavy as it is in the spring, they do carry some blooms throughout the summer. This may have something to do with our zone, we are in NC, but mine are always showing themselves.

      • Jan said,

        June 21, 2010 at 7:46 am

        Gee, I don’t think I have ever seen any flowers outside of springtime, except after Hurricane Katrina (which was weird). You are lucky to have blooms in the summer. It may be because you are cooler than we are.

  10. Jan said,

    May 2, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Yes, Dan, they only bloom in late winter/early spring, and they do lose their leaves in the fall. The bare winter branches usually make a very striking scene because of the way they grow.

  11. Cheryl said,

    May 4, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I’m not much of a net surfer, so I am pleased to have found this site. I have loved these trees from afar for years. My dad surprised me with one for Mothers Day. Because he purchased it from a chain home improvement center, he wasn’t able to find out much about it except that he says it is more of a shrub variety. I can’t find any information on a shrub variety. I know it needs full sun, but am not sure how large it might get and how/if it would require pruning. It is about 4′ tall with no main trunk; but rather a cluster of branches starting from center. Might you be ba able to tell me more about it?

  12. Jan said,

    May 4, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Cheryl, you might want to check out this website for some good info about Japanese Magnolia – http://www.floridata.com/ref/M/magno_so.cfm
    I don’t think there is a “shrub” variety. I have seen trees that do not have a single trunk, maybe this is what yours is. These trees do get as big as the single trunk ones do. In winter, when the leaves are gone, these trees can have a very architectural look.
    I hope this helps.

  13. dan said,

    May 5, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Yeah, when I bought it it had tons of flowers on it. It seems to be growing rather fast. Im sure by next spring it will be around 5 maybe 6 feet tall at the rate it is going now. So I’m sure next winter/spring will have tons of flowers

  14. Jan said,

    May 6, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Dan, I know you will enjoy the sight of all those blooms next spring. I think the Japanese Magnolias appear so striking because they do not flower all year.

  15. Cheryl said,

    May 6, 2008 at 5:06 pm


    Thanks for the website! It told me just what I needed to know. Because I am very visual, I know exactly what you mean about them being so striking in the winter and/or against a vivid sky. I have planted it in full view of my favorite reading window. I think I am anticipating the winter months as much as I am the time of bloom. 🙂


  16. Jan said,

    May 6, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Cheryl, it sounds as if you have placed this tree where you will enjoy it all year long.

  17. Jennifer said,

    June 5, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    We have two Japanese Magnolia trees in our front yard. This year the flowers were so beautiful that everyone I saw commented on them. Every time I came home, I was greeted by lovely pink flowers. I am really surprised that more people don’t have this kind of tree in their yards. We bought our house in December. During spring, I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful blooms.

  18. Jan said,

    June 6, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Hi, Jennifer. I agree that this is a wonderful smaller tree and should be planted more often.

  19. susan balmer said,

    June 22, 2008 at 12:08 am

    hi jan i just received a 3ft. pk. japanese magnolia in Jax. fla.. the info. says it grows 20 to 25ft. i dont have room for such a tall tree but love the info about iant. can it stay smaller w/pruning? you tell jennifer its a wonderful smaller tree? also my neighbor says the leaves that drop are a pain to rake.. hes talking regular magnolias (white bloom, Large leaves) how are the fallen leaves? and can i keep the tree small.? thank you for your website..susan balmer in Jax., Fla..

  20. Jan said,

    June 22, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Hi, Susan, I hope I can give you information that will help you. A small tree is app. 20-25 feet tall at maturity, a mid size tree about 35 feet, and tall 50 or more feet. So, you can see that a Japanese Magnolia is considered a small tree. Remember it is not a shrub. Can you prune it so it will stay smaller? Well, yes you can, but you will be constantly pruning it and could ruin the shape which is esp. important in the winter when it loses its leaves. I have found that Mother Nature always wins out unless you are willing to constantly work at making a plant do what you want it to. You could limb it up as it gets older to have more room around the base of the tree. They are not very thick trees to begin with. As for the leaves, they are not the problem that the evergreen magnolias are. The Japanese Magnolia drops its leaves all at once, and they are not thick and leathery so will break down faster. I hope this helps.

  21. henry weaver said,

    June 27, 2008 at 5:24 am

    do the japanese magnolia get little red berrys on the in addition to the pink flowers? we just lost such a tree, was very old and would like to replace it.
    your help will be appreciated.

    henry weaver, harrisburg

  22. Jan said,

    June 27, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Hi, Henry. I have never noticed little red berries after the blooming of a Japanese Magnolia. Do the flowers look like the ones pictured above?
    I was thinking that maybe your tree was a pink dogwood, but those flowers are much smaller though there are small berries that turn red on the branches after the flowers fade. Maybe if you gave me more information about what the tree looked like, I could try and figure out what your tree was.

    • Henry Haigler said,

      October 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm

      I have a Japanese Magnolia that is about 15 years old. It now has red berries on it for the first time. I wonder it is due to the age of the tree or because we had a very wet spring.

      Does anyone have any ideas?

      Henry Haigler,
      McLean, VA

      • Jan said,

        October 6, 2009 at 7:09 pm

        Henry, it is probably due to the age of the tree. I have never seen any of the Japanese magnolias around here produce seeds, but that doesn’t mean they don’t. I know the grandiflora magnolias have to be a good size before they start flowering and producing their red seeds. Try planting some of your seeds to see if they will sprout.

    • Allison said,

      February 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Our arborist planted a japenese magnolia last March & it has not bloomed & doesn’t show any signs that it is going too. I see them all over our neighborhood blooming , but mine is not? Do they wait a couple of years to bloom. I am in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

      • Jan said,

        February 13, 2012 at 6:19 pm

        Allison, I can understand your magnolia did not bloom this year after only being planted last March. This past summer was extremely dry here in South Louisiana, and this may be the main reason why your tree, which was sending out new roots, was under too much stress to set buds. I know it is disappointing not to have flowers this year, but I would not be too concerned that your recently planted tree has not bloomed yet. Next year should see flowers.

  23. Catherine said,

    July 6, 2008 at 5:46 am

    The japanese magnolias are so very beautiful. I planted one last year. The last couple of months some of the leaves are getting half-brown and drying up. What does this mean and what can I do?

  24. Jan said,

    July 6, 2008 at 6:25 am

    You haven’t told me where you live, but it sounds like maybe that tree needs water if you are living in an area where there has been little rain. To properly water a tree, place the end of a hose about ten inches from the trunk and turn it on so that the water barely trickles out. I mean BARELY coming out. Leave this on for hours, maybe even overnight. The water has to seep in deep and not run off. If you have had enough rain, and it isn’t too many leaves, it may just be older leaves dying off normally. Without more info or seeing the tree, this is what I can guess may be happening.

  25. margaret said,

    July 12, 2008 at 9:25 am

    I live in southern california. I would love to plant the japanese magnolia on a small hillside near the sidewalk in my front yard; is this a good idea? Is the tree invasive or slow growing? Non invasive and slow growing is my preference. Help!

  26. Jan said,

    July 12, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Margaret, I feel that the Japanese Magnolia is a non invasive tree. It is not a fast grower, maybe moderate to slow. Your site sounds fine, except remember that the flower petals will drop and that could be a problem if it is close to the sidewalk. If the tree limbs will not overhang or be close to the sidewalk, then the falling petals should not be a worry. The petals on a sidewalk can be slippery when walked on and require being raked up during the period when they are falling.

  27. April O'Connell said,

    July 16, 2008 at 8:06 am

    I have a Japanese magnolia which needs more sunlight as it is now partly shaded by a regular magnolia. Does it have a tap root or many roots so that I can tansplant it? Since this Website says cuttings can be rooted, it seems to me that it could be transplanted.

    April O’Connell

  28. Jan said,

    July 16, 2008 at 9:43 am

    April, you do not say where you are located or the size of the tree, so it is hard to give a definite answer. You can transplant your tree, but you will have to get the largest root ball you can, and this can be very heavy. If your tree is four to five feet, it should transplant okay with extra care, watering the first year, etc. If it is taller, it may not take to transplanting well. If it is not doing well in the present location, you could move it with the understanding that if it does not make it, you may have to buy another one. Here is a web site you might find helpful. http://landscaping.about.com/cs/shrubsbushes/ht/transplanting.htm

    I hope this helps.

  29. Sharon said,

    August 4, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I have two Japanese magnolia’s for over three months now with a notice of a flower, however over a period a few days all of my leaves on what I would call two healthy trees has fallen. There are some new buds on them now, but what happen? I live in New Orleans where there is full sun most of the time.

  30. Jan said,

    August 4, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Hi, Sharon, I hope I can help. It is difficult to know what happened without seeing the tree and leaves. My best guess, if these are newly planted trees, is that it may be high temps and not enough water that may have caused this. In new plants, the surrounding soil may be moist, but the root ball may dry out and since the roots have not had a chance to move into the surrounding soil enough yet, the plant is under stress. If there has been too much water, it could also cause leaf drop. Make sure there is no standing water around the trees. Did the leaves just drop or did they quickly turn brown and drop? If there are new buds on them, it doesn’t sound as if they are dead. It may be that the tree is going dormant early because of the heat & not enough water. This is the way it protects itself. I hope this helps.

  31. Mike Marett said,

    August 11, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Hi Jan. I live in Cary, NC. I planted two Japenese Magnolias this past April and they were doing very well, until now. It is now August. They are 4 feet tall and have some buds. Both are on a slope with West exposure…so afternoon sun is plentiful. The soil is naturally clay-like, so “well-drained” is not typical. I conditioned the planting holes about a foot deeper and wider than the root ball when planting. The leaves are now yellowing and dropping very quickly this past week. It gets hot and dry for long periods here, but I accidently let our lawn sprinker on in their area for 3 hours a week ago. Could that cause this drop? How would I tell overwatered from underwatered? There are also some leaves, stems and buds that have white weblike areas on them. Could that be a clue? How would I treat them?

  32. Caye Youmans said,

    August 12, 2008 at 6:23 am

    I have a japanese magnolia that is problably 20 years old. I live in SC. My leaves have also turned brown and fallen off, but there are new buds on it. I see that you say it going dormant early. Should I trim the buds or do anything to the tree or will it just return to its normal state?

  33. Jan said,

    August 12, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Hi, Mike, I’ll try to help. I think your magnolias are just going dormant early because of the hot, dry weather. Even leaving the sprinklers on 3 hours wouldn’t be enough at this time of year to do any real damage. If you overwatered, the ground would be very, very wet & usually the leaves droop,turn yellow and fall off. When plants are underwatered, the leaves droop, then turn crispy before falling off. The weblike areas you are seeing could be plant lice which are harmless. They eat organic matter on the tree (kind of like cleaning the bark). Without seeing the trees and the area they are planted, these are my best guesses. I hope it helps.

    Caye, I’ll give you my best guess on your tree, too. Don’t trim anything now because you will be cutting off this coming spring’s buds. I would just leave it alone, making sure it is watered during the hot months.

  34. dan said,

    August 13, 2008 at 7:42 am

    I thought Japanese mags lose their leaves around this time of year. End of summer, then they get a ton of flowers at the end of winter and in early spring the leaves come back. My tree is odd too, My tree still has all of its leaves AND it has flowers on it again. I thought it only flowers in winter and spring, not late summer. It has a ton of buds on it as well. I planted mine in april and it is in full sun. sun all day long no shade whatsoever. It’s doing very well. I just couldnt believe it was getting new flowers now

  35. Jan said,

    August 13, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Hi, Dan, I think they sometimes bloom in the late summer because they are reacting to the length of the day. They do not bloom in spring until there are a certain number of daylight hours, and now there probably the same number of hours. After Katrina, several Japanese magnolias bloomed in early September in our neighborhood. It has been my experience that they don’t lose their leaves until a little later in the year, but if they have been under stress, esp. when it is extremely dry, they can lose them earlier.

  36. Tabathia said,

    August 19, 2008 at 6:25 am

    I live in Louisiana, I planted a my tree in between my water line and septic line, then I thought about it. How big do the roots gets get? Are they going to mess up my lines? It is three to four feet from the lines. It is a perfect spot for the tree in my front yard it will get the right amount of sun and water not to mention looking out my window to see the beautifull flowers. Can you please help so I know if I need to transplant it or not.

  37. Jan said,

    August 19, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Tabathia, I am not sure about septic tanks, but it seems that three to four feet from the septic lines is awfully close. I do not think I would leave it that close, but maybe a plumber or your local extension service could better advise you.

  38. Tabathia said,

    August 19, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    The line that I am refering to from my septic system is the line closest to the ditch that drains the clean water after the system purifies it. I thought about that and the line runs next to my oak tree and the roots havent bothered it. I guess I really wanted to know more for my water lines I unfamiliar the japanesse magnolia’s and how deep and wide the roots grow. I need to know that before I am able to transplant it My property is like an intersection for many lines (gas lines among one of them) that were here before I was. I already have trees planted were the lines are not at but the rest of my yard I have to be careful of what I plant. By the water line is probaply my best place.

  39. Jan said,

    August 20, 2008 at 4:31 am

    If it is the water line, I don’t think the roots would be a problem. One thing to think about, though, is the high winds that can topple a big tree. When Hurricane Katrina came through our area, many trees when they fell pulled up a big root section. This, in turn, broke many utility lines that were underground and running through their roots. If you live in north Louisiana, this probably wouldn’t be too much of a concern, but I wouldn’t plant a tree that close to a utility line in south LA. If it is only the discharged water line from the septic tank, I guess it is okay to leave the tree where it is because I don’t think the roots will grow into it, and, if on the rare occasion the tree would toppple and break that line, it is not like losing gas, or one of the other necessary utilties.

  40. fred riddle said,

    August 24, 2008 at 9:50 am

    I live in Pensacola, FL Zone 9 and have a mature Japanese Magnolia. It was doing fine until it was partially up-rooted by a hurricane three years ago. I transplanted it and for the past two summers, the leaves turn half brown. That is, half is dark green and the outer edges turn brown and dead looking. I am watering about 4 gallons every other day throught drip irrigation. It receives morning shade and 4-5 hours of direct afternoon sun. However, the new growth is lighter green and very health looking. It continues to bloom in the spring before the leaves return. What can I do?

  41. Jan said,

    August 24, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Fred, I think you are doing all that you can. If your tree was not very small when it uprooted and transplanted, then it is going to take some time for roots to form which will support all the top growth. It seems like you are watering enough, and think you just have to give the tree a little more time. Your county extension service might be able to give you more advice for your particular area.

  42. dan said,

    August 27, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Jan, what you said sounds like perfect advice. I’m no expert at all, but the new root theory makes perfect sense to me.

  43. Jan said,

    August 27, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks, Dan. It is hard to give advice without seeing the plant and the conditions it is growing under.

  44. Jean K said,

    September 28, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I hope someone can help me. I planted the Japanese Magnolia 3 years ago. The first year it looked like it was dying, so I moved it to get more sun. For the last 2 years it just looks awful. I looks dead all winter and in the spring it starts getting it’s leaves. It still has it’s leaves now but all summer the leaves have had brown spots, they are curling and not even green. I have tried fertilizer, the systemic disease control, I have even sprayed it with soapy water to no avail..I live in Ocala, FL and we have sandy soil, but when I transplanted it I added some compost to the sand. Please help..

  45. Jan said,

    September 28, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Jean, you are aware that Japanese Magnolias are deciduous, they will drop their leaves in the winter, and now is the time when the leaves will start to turn brown and die. The leaves should come in the spring right after it blooms. If the leaves are brown in the summer and you are watering it well, you may need to contact your local extension service for help next year. It may be that you need to do a little more because of the sandy soil. I hope this helps. It is a little hard to tell what may be wrong without seeing the tree, that’s why I recommend your local extension service.

  46. Mike P. said,

    September 29, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I have two mature Japanese Magnolias in front of my house in a small bed along the front porch. Because of volunteer plants, vines, etc., and especially to reduce mosquito breeding, I am considering bricking over the bed. Would this be detrimental to these very healthy trees? This is New Orleans and the bugs are out of control.

  47. Jan said,

    September 30, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Yes, Mike, this would be detrimental to the trees. This would reduce the amount of water available to them and the compaction of the soil necessary to put in the patio would harm the roots. You do not say how large the area is, but one solution may be to brick the area but leave large spaces around the trees free of brick and then mulch those spaces. You could also clear out the entire area of vegetation and then mulch it heavily. This would protect the roots of the trees, neaten up the look, and reduce mosquitoes hanging around. If there is no standing water in that bed, then the mosquitoes are not breeding there they are just staying out of the wind. I hope this helps.

  48. frank said,

    November 10, 2008 at 8:52 am

    I have a small Japanese Magnolia which I planted about two years ago. It is blooming now but not many flowers.It gets full sun and is in an area that is irrigated about 45 minutes three times a week. Is this enough water? Also what type fertilizer is used for these trees, and what kind of spray should be used for insects? Can you help?

  49. Jan said,

    November 10, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Frank, you don’t say where you live or what, if any, problems you are having (incects?, falling leaves?, no growth?) You can always check with your local agricultural extension service or maybe give me a little more information for me to try and help you with any problems you are having.

  50. frank said,

    November 11, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Hi, Frank here again. It seems my problem would be very little growth. I live in Dunnellon Fl. Although the tree is going through the cycles you have stated, it is no bigger than when I first put it in the ground. The flowers are great and I get many buds, they don’t seem to flower like I believe they should. Is it water, fertilizer or the sandy soil?

  51. Jan said,

    November 12, 2008 at 4:36 am

    Frank, it could be the sandy soil if it is not growing. Sandy soil may not hold enough water for the tree to grow. You may want to add compost and see if that helps. Sometimes it takes a tree a little while to get established. Also, remember that this tree really blooms in the late winter/early spring, and any flowering in the fall will be sparse.

  52. Tabitha said,

    January 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Jan, I live just outside New Orleans. I am looking to purchase a japanese magnolia for my yard. Are there any varieties that stay smaller than others? I want one of these trees in my yard but with hurricanes coming through, I want a smaller tree because of the risk of falling on the house. Thanks for any info.

    • Jan said,

      January 13, 2009 at 4:36 pm

      Sorry, Tabitha, but there are no Japanese magnolias that stay small.; they all grow about the same size. It is not considered a large tree to begin with. You could plant one away from the house if you are afraid they would get too big. I have seen fairly old ones next to one-story houses, and they do not seem to be so large that they would cause any problem if a large branch broke off. The ones around here made it through Katrina just fine, so maybe they are not as prone to breakage as other trees are.

  53. Tabitha said,

    January 22, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Jan. I purchased my Japanese magnolia today! I got “Betty” which I was told produces dark purple flowers. The man at the nursery said not to fertilize it when I plant the tree but I wanted to get a second opinion about that because everything I see says to fertilize in late winter. Please help. Thanks!

    • Jan said,

      January 22, 2009 at 6:39 pm

      Tabitha, if he said not to fertilize, then I don’t think I would. There may be fertilizer already in the container soil the tree is planted in. If you plant it now, you could lightly fertilize it in the spring, or wait until next year in late winter. I hope you enjoy your Japanese magnolia. I really prefer the darker purple flowers. I hope this helps.

  54. ross hennessey said,

    January 25, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    we live in venetian isles in extreme eastern new orleans.i would like to plant some japanese magnolias on my property.can u recomend a good nursery in the area and is now february a good time to plant?

    • Jan said,

      January 25, 2009 at 2:46 pm

      Yes, Ross, now is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs in south Louisiana. You want to get them in the ground before hot weather sets in. I am not sure which of the many nurseries in New Orleans is open, but you could try The Garden Spot in Slidell, or Banting”s across the river, or Perino’s or Charvet’s in Metairie.

  55. Melanie said,

    February 12, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Hi Jan,
    I live on the Northshore and I have a Japanese Magnolia in my back yard.
    I have had this tree for about 4 years and it looks terrible. At the bottom of it has several small branches, not one root that I would be able to call the trunk. It has very few if any flowers. It is in a sunny and well drained area. What can i do? Do I need to move it to a different area?

    • Jan said,

      February 12, 2009 at 7:42 pm

      Melanie, it is hard to tell without actually seeing your tree, but have you fertilize it? If it is in a well-drained area, with sun and you have kept it watered in the summer, then if it is in the condition you describe, it might be a good idea to replace it with another Japanese magnolia. Sometimes a plant’s roots are damaged before you get it, or it has been in a container so long, the roots never really spread out into the surrounding soil once it is planted, so the plant never does grow or thrive. If after four years, it is not doing well, I think I would replace it. I hope this helps. If you have any other info about the tree and its condition, you can leave a comment and maybe my advise would change.

  56. dan said,

    February 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Wow this topic I started really took off. I haven’t been on here in a while. Ok question. My tree has tons of buds on it but no flowers yet. I run on trails near my house at a state park and there is a HUGE old jap mag there that has had flowers already and lost them with new buds. Is it the more established the tree the sooner it gets flowers? Also I want to know, does the tree only grow in spring and summer and the rest of the year no growth at all?

    • Jan said,

      February 16, 2009 at 4:46 pm

      Dan, it depends on the variety as to how soon it blooms. The one in my photos is one of the earliest around here to bloom. I have noticed some around New Orleans that are just starting to bloom while most of the other Japanese magnolias are completely finished blooming. Another reason that one may bloom later than another is placement. If it is in a microclimate that is cooler it will bloom later, a warmer one will allow the tree to bloom earlier. A tree in a protected area may bloom earlier than one in an exposed area for example.
      Trees generally only grow in warm weather, when it gets cold they go dormant.

  57. dan said,

    February 17, 2009 at 5:40 am

    I’m not sure the variety I have. Picked it up at a flea market last year. Mine is on the south side of my house so it gets sun all day long no shade. It is however out in the open, and in central florida we got hit with some pretty cold weather, down to about 20 degrees for a few days. It totally killed my weeping bottlebrush tree I think (is there a topic on this site for bottlebrush trees?) Anyways, last year when I planted it in the spring it flowered very nicely all spring and even alot of the summer flowers were still coming out after the leaves fell off in the early fall. The leaves were coming off except at the bottom of the tree where leaves AND flowers were both growing.

  58. dan said,

    February 17, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I’m not sure the exact variety since I picked it up at a flea market. I can say that when I planted it already had blooms on it and bloomed sometimes during the summer when leaves were on it. When the leaves started to fall new leaves and flowers were still growing at the base of it. It has tons of buds on it and the furry stuff is peeling off revealing more fuzzy stuff. Not sure what that is called. Nothing has opened yet. I live in zone 9A and had a pretty rough freeze this winter and the plant is out in full sun but out in the open with no protection. I’m hoping all the buds on it open into flowers soon though

    • Jan said,

      February 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm

      Okay, Dan, I’ll try and help. Sometimes, if a Japanese magnolia blooms in the fall, it will not bloom as profusely in the spring because it has opened up some of the buds in the fall. Also, when a tree is planted, it sometimes takes a few years to get established and start blooming again as much as it should, and you just planted yours last year. If you had freezes lately, the tree is only going to open its buds when warm weather is around for a while. I think you just have to be patient. You must have a late blooming variety.

  59. dan said,

    February 17, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks Jan for being on top of this forum!! You respond fast!! My tree has tons of buds on it and you can see tiny little spots where it appears more are ready to form. Lately we haven’t had more than a week or two without a frost in the morning. I know mine bloomed all summer last year and partly after leaves were growing.

  60. dan said,

    February 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Well Today I was coming home from getting a haircut and saw a local antique shop/mini nursery with a bunch of new trees out for sale. Saw a ton of magnolia varieties I’ve not seen before sold in the area. 3 types of japanese magnolias (ann, jane and the regular one not sure the actual name of it). I bought a Jane because the picture on the tag had deep purple almost red flowers. Thought I would plant it 10 ft from my other one for a variation in purple and red colors. Now I get home and online to google Jane Mags and the pictures I see are still the same purple type flower. I think the petals are more slender than the other jap mag I have. Oh well, Now I have 2 of these, 4 DD blanchard magnolias, 2 little gems, and I had this place seek out a Samuel Sommer Magnolia for me to plant further out in the yard with my DD blanchards. The samual Sommer supposedly gets 15″ flowers on it. Keeping my fingers crossed

  61. sissy said,

    March 4, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I live in Panama City, Fl and my magnolia has bulds on it but they look like they are not going to bloom. kinded like they are dry. no leaves at all. one buld is almost open but looks like it may just drop out.

    • Jan said,

      March 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm

      Sissy, did you have a late freeze? That may account for the damaged buds/flowers. These trees usually bloom before the leaves emerge, so not having leaves doesn’t mean anything. Or, maybe it is a lack of water. It is hard to tell without being able to see the trees. You can always contact your county extension service. The people there are so knowledgable and helpful.

      Debbie, does your tree get enough sun? That is usually the reason why most plants do not flower. If it is getting enough sun, you may want to fertilize it this spring. Again, you can contact your county extension service for help. They are always willing to help.

  62. Debbie said,

    March 4, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I have a japanese magnolia about 4 years old now, and it has never bloomed flowers. It get leaves, but no flowers. What do I need to do to it?

  63. dan said,

    March 5, 2009 at 4:30 am

    My tree just this week opened up with flower buds this week. Then BAM another 2 day in a row freeze and it looks like it killed those buds. They are shriveling up and not opening into flowers yet. There are tons of other fuzzy buds though so those will turn into flowers soon. I wish my brand new 2nd japanese magnolia would open a flower so I can see the color compared to the older one. I’m hoping it has more reddish flowers than my first one. If not I’m moving it to a new location before the roots settle in. Also Yesterday I bought yet another type of mag tree, a royal star magnolia about 4 feet tall. It already lost all the flowers since it blooms earlier than the jane and ann magnolias. It has all of its leaves now on it. I’ve been eying this thing at the nursery for 3 weeks now when it was full of blooms. Finally decided to buy it yesterday

    • Jan said,

      March 5, 2009 at 5:39 am

      Sounds like you are really getting into these magnolias. Too bad about that freeze.

  64. dan said,

    March 5, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Yeah thanks. The freeze killed my weeping bottlebrush tree. I can handle a few flowers not opening on the magnolia. Now I have a slew of magnolias. 4 DD Blanchards, 2 Little Gems, 2 Jap Mags, and the Royal Star magnolia. I want an Elizabeth mag and a Samuel Sommer Mag and I will be pretty content. Of course when I see different ones available I always seem to buy something. I have 6 acres so I can Handle buying quite a few since I have the space

  65. dan said,

    March 20, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Ok, new additions. Man there are a ton of hybrid japanese mags out there. I’ve ordered a few jap and non jap mags lately. Got an elizabeth magnolia coming any day from california, with yellow flowers. Ordered an magnolia relative (manglietia insignis) also called the red lotus tree. It’s basically a large growing magnolia with red flowers instead of white. Can’t wait for that one. Ordered a banana split japanese magnolia and a woodsman japanese magnolia which has chocolate colored flower buds

    • Jan said,

      March 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm

      Wow! Dan, you are really going magnolia crazy. I have seen photos of the Elizabeth magnolia, and it is lovely. The others, I don’t think I have seen. I’ll have to check them out. Good luck with all your new additions.

  66. dan said,

    March 20, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    The elizabeth magnolia actually came about an hour ago and I planted it literally 5 minutes after I took it out of the box. I have it planted about 15 feet from a jane magnolia which is about 15 ft from a royal star magnolia. The Elizabeth is only about 2 ft tall and has one yellow flower bud on it now. Probably one or 2 more japanese magnolias and I will be about done with them. Probably going to give one called a “savage splendor” which has bright red flowers too. check these two sites out for all the cool japanese magnolias out there. http://www.rarefindnursery.com and http://www.fairweathergardens.com

    Look for their magnolias

    • Jan said,

      March 21, 2009 at 5:28 am

      Thanks, Dan, for the two sites, I just spent about an hour looking at them. Rare Find Nursery has some lovely yellow magnolias that I just might have to give a try.

  67. dan said,

    March 21, 2009 at 6:24 am

    You’re welcome Jan. I’ve logged in many hours on those two sites and others as well. Check prices between the two sites before you buy. It seems for the same tree one may be less money than the other depending on the tree you decide to buy. I bought a yellow “elizabeth” magnolia from a place called Cliftons nursery in california and it came in perfect condition. They might be more expensive though but I didn’t find the other sites until after I already bought this tree. I have a question. I planted the Elizabeth magnolia about 15 feet from an “ann” japanese magnolia. Do you think I planted them too close together for the long term?

    • Jan said,

      March 21, 2009 at 6:39 am

      That might be a little close, Dan. I think I would be more comfortable with about 20 feet. When they reach maturity, you would want some space between them, and the 20 feet would give more room (app. 10 feet instead of 5) between the two trees. Fifteen feet might be okay if you want them to fill in a space; it would just depend on your site and how you want them to look.

  68. dan said,

    March 21, 2009 at 6:45 am

    You’re probably right. I want enough space in between to get the lawn mower through. And my lawn mower is 60 inches wide. Jan did you decide on any tree on those websites? Also Can you post pictures on here of our trees?

    • Jan said,

      March 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm

      Dan, I’m still thinking about those trees. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

  69. dblue said,

    March 27, 2009 at 5:47 pm


    I have a large mature japanese magnolia of the most common variety. I live in Portland Oregon. The tree is in great shape, probably at least 30 years. It is on the southern side of the house. Blooms when it should, drops leaves when it should etc. etc. Flowers are just about to open up as I write.

    My problem: I rolled out a new lawn two springs ago and the new lawn did well everywhere expect under the tree right out to about 1 foot past the drip line. My neighbor’s established lawn does pretty well under her same tree. Any knowledge of lawns not growing under these trees? Thanks.

    • Jan said,

      March 27, 2009 at 6:50 pm

      Hi, Dan. I haven’t noticed lawns not growing under Japanese magnolias, but if your tree is that old and big, the shade during the summer may be very dense, and that could be the reason the lawn is not growing there. Usually grasses need a lot of sun. Another reason could be that Japanese magnolias often have roots very close to the surface, and they could be using up a lot of the water, depriving the grass of needed water when it is trying to get established. That’s all I can think of; I hope this helps. Maybe your local extension service might know more for your area.

  70. Dan said,

    March 27, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Yeah that could be the reason. I know when mine grow tall I am going to make sure to prune the bottom so i can mow around it and let light in too. I have sprinklers in the area where the trees are. I just hope the roots dont mess the irrigation lines up

    • Jan said,

      March 27, 2009 at 7:25 pm

      Dan, I hope so, too, for your sake, though I don’t think the roots should bother the irrigation lines. It sounds like a good idea to limb up the trees as they grow taller.

  71. Dan said,

    March 30, 2009 at 6:02 am

    I hope not. The seem to be growing like weeds in the spots they are in. Today I get my final shipment of harder to find magnolias. At least hard to find in MY area. Magnolia “savage splendor” and a manglietia insignis also known as the red lotus tree. Technically not a magnolia but very close.

  72. dblue said,

    March 30, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks for your help. Sun should not be a problem as it gets plenty of direct sun light. Do the roots generally extend out to the edge of the canopy? If so, lack of water could indeed be the problem.

    Thanks again!

    dBlue in Portland

    • Jan said,

      March 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm

      Yes, the roots do extend out to the edge and of the canopy and even a little beyond, so don’t just water next to the trunk. Hope this helps.

  73. dan said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    hey Jan, have you bought any magnolia’s from those sites?

  74. Anita said,

    May 1, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Jan, I have a Japanese Magnolia that I’ve had about 3 years. The first year it bloomed beautifully but the last 2 years it hasn’t bloomed at all, it just got leaves. I live in Atlanta Ga. What can I do to make sure it blooms next spring?

    • Jan said,

      May 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm

      Anita, is your plant in full sun? The first year, your plant would bloom because the nursery where it was grown kept it in optimal conditions. If it is sun, it could be that it is just young or a late freeze could have nipped the flower buds. Without seeing your tree, these are my best guesses. You could check with your local agricultural extension service or a nursery in your area for more ideas.

  75. Tim said,

    May 7, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Jan, I live(now) in Paragould,Ar. (just under the bootheel of Missouri My wife plans to get two of the Jap-Mag for the new house. Questions:
    1.) How big does the rootball get?
    2.) Does the R/B spread out with the dripline or basically go straight down.
    3.) I have appx.30 foot long by 70 ft. wide front lawn: but the only problem is there power cables under most of it due to underground utilities,etc.,etc…
    4.) where might be the best place to plant?
    I presently have two of the trees my wife bought from one of the catalogs and I don’t know if it was Parks or Gurney’s or whoever but stay away from those type of places,(buy from a nursery of home and garden center). I have carpenters pencils that are bigger and longer that both of the stems they sent.put together.
    5.) Same basic thoughts only on Japanese Maple.

    • Jan said,

      May 7, 2009 at 7:10 pm

      Tim, the Japanese magnolia is a small tree, and the rootball is like any tree. It does spread out to the dripline and beyond. Since it is not a large tree, it doesn’t spread out like an oak or sycamore tree will, but it does spread out. I have not observed any large surface roots like a Southern magnolia has. I would try to place it as far away from underground utilities as possible. Often people are disappointed in trees or shrubs they get from mail order places, but you have to remember that shipping a pot and soil is expensive. Hopefully, your trees, while small now, will grow quickly. Japanese Maple is usually a small, rather slow growing tree. Mine have been in for about six and three years and are growing nicely but slowly. I think they are great trees. Check out Garden Watchdog for other gardeners’ experiences with mail order nurseries.

      • Dan said,

        May 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm

        I bought a japanese maple at a local nursery this spring here in Florida. I was surprised to see the place had about 10 for sale. They weren’t labeled anything other than “japanese maple”. No idea what variety it was but it was only 20 bucks. They said it would grow no more than 12 feet tall by 12 ft wide. After researching the leave shape and the colors (crimson when the leaves come out and turn green in the heat) I’m pretty sure its a burgundy lace Japanese maple. This is the one tree I’m not sure if it will do good here in florida or not but I plan on babying it for now and see how it does

      • Jan said,

        May 8, 2009 at 4:16 am

        You were very lucky, Dan, to get a lace Japanese maple for only $20. I have seen them around here for double and triple that, and I am not talking about a big tree, either. My red Japanese maples are doing well, so I think yours should do well too in Florida.

      • Dan said,

        May 8, 2009 at 6:15 am

        I couldn’t believe it when I saw them…$19.99 actually. My wife was saying she wanted one and I told her I don’t think they will live in the heat of florida. Then sure enough I was at the nursery and they had some. Looked like maybe 2 varieties but I don’t know Japanese maples as well as I do the magnolias. The tree I got is maybe 3 feet tall but the leaves don’t look great. They are all bent and twisted and even looks like bugs eat them even though I see no bugs on the tree. Not sure if thats normal or not. When the leaves first come out they are a burgundy red and perfect looking then turn ugly. Not sure if it just needs to get better established even though I am watering it daily or every other day.

      • Jan said,

        May 8, 2009 at 3:52 pm

        Dan, these need some shade from our hot sun. I am a little worried about mine, because the neighbors had to cut back a tree that was shading my maple. Last year, it did okay, but I really had to water it often. Mine is a red one, and it still gets some shade, but not as much as before. If yours is planted in full sun, you may want to consider moving it. That could be what is wrong with your leaves.

      • Dan said,

        June 15, 2009 at 6:08 am

        Yeah my maple is right in the middle of a group of oak trees. It gets early morning sun then the rest of the day is filtered shade with bits of sun. It looks pretty good now. I think it’s more established and it growing nicely…all the new leaves look normal and stay normal without twisting and getting tiny holes in them

      • Jan said,

        June 15, 2009 at 7:36 am

        I am glad to hear that your maple is doing well. Mine is getting too much afternoon sun now because Katrina knocked out the trees that were shading it. I have been giving it more water, and so far, it is still looking good. Too bad it is too big to move now, or I would place it in more shade.

      • Dan said,

        June 26, 2009 at 6:51 am

        Thanks. My tree gets sun in the morning and later afternoon after 5. I thought in Florida this would be a bad thing, but it seems to be doing very well now. It constantly has new leaves poking out bright red and after a few weeks they turn greenish. I’m happy I bought this tree especially for only 20 dollars. All of my trees are doing very well. i still water them with a hose 2-3 times a week though even my magnolia’s I planted LAST summer.

      • Jan said,

        June 26, 2009 at 7:41 am

        Dan, I am so glad that they all your trees are doing so well. We are now in a severe drought and watering has become a must for everything – new and old plants.

  76. Dan said,

    May 7, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    I have been happy with the trees I got this spring from mail order places. I bought an Elizabeth magnolia from cliftons nursery in california and it came with NO leaves but good branching and it flowered and now 2 months later has grown 8 inches in 2 months. A little more than I expected. I also bought 3 other magnolias from 2 places in new jersey. “savage splendor’, ‘golden sun’ and ‘march til frost’ all came as 2-4 foot sticks with tiny buds. ALL of them are sprouting leaves and branching out already 2 weeks to a month later. They come as twigs but the soon turn into great trees. I have nothing bad to say about them at all. I did buy a manglietia Insignis from cistus nursery in oregon and it came as a tiny plant. I hoped for something bigger but since it was the ONLY nursery in the country that had this magnolia I don’t mind it being small and it too is growing fine so far.

    • Jan said,

      May 8, 2009 at 4:24 am

      Dan, one of the reasons I love the website, Garden Watchdog, is that there usually is some feedback about a particular mail order nursery so that you can decide if you want to send your hard-earned money to an unknown business. I know that there are many good mail order companies, but, unfortunately, there are also some very poor ones. I have been very lucky with my online purchases, but I know of people who have been really ripped off by unscrupulous companies. Of course, one has to be aware that often you will get a dormant, bareroot plant that looks bad, but will soon start to put out leaves and take off. It looks like you have dealt with reputable companies and have had good returns on your money.

      • Dan said,

        May 8, 2009 at 6:05 am

        Yes I have been lucky. Those 2 places I mentioned in new jersey are great. I googled the magnolia trees I wanted and found place with a wide variety of magnolias and just chose from there and looked up reviews of both nurseries with neither of them getting negative reviews. I like the fact that the trees were already 3-4 ft tall. The nursery in oregon was the only one that sent me tiny trees. But again It’s such a rare magnolia and NO other place had them or EVER carry them so I wasn’t disappointed and its growing fine so far

  77. Dan said,

    May 8, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Mine is planted under a group of oak trees. It gets morning sun until maybe 8 or 9 then it is pretty much shaded the rest of the day. It’s only been in the ground a month and a half so the roots haven’t established yet. It doesn’t look dried out at all just the leaves are twisted looking with little holes in them. Where are you located Jan?

    • Jan said,

      May 9, 2009 at 5:43 am

      Dan, I am in Covington, Louisiana, which is about 30 miles north of New Orleans. We are north of Lake Ponchatrain which means we are a bit colder than New Orleans in the winter time. It seems as if your maple is planted in a good spot regarding sun. If your leaves have little holes, it is probably something that is eating them. You might want to check with your local extension service or a nursery to see if there is something in your area causing the problem.

  78. Tabitha said,

    June 2, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Hi Jan. I wrote a while back about purchasing my magnolia. It bloomed and did beautifully. Recently I have noticed several leaves turning yellow every few days. It has been dry but I have been watering it. Could i be overwatering it? Just wondering if yellow leaves mean over- or under-watering. It’s not the majority of the leaves but just a few here and there. Please give me any advice you can. Thank you.

    • Jan said,

      June 2, 2009 at 6:06 pm

      Tabitha, yellow leaves can mean either over- or under-watering. If it has been dry and you are watering deeply, then it may not mean anything if only a few leaves are dropping. If it would continue or if the tree would start to lose many leaves, I might give the nursery where you bought it a call.

  79. JNelson said,

    June 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Around 4/4/09 I purchased a Japenese Magnolia tree from a well known greenhouse in Southwest Mississippi. This tree is about 4′ tall and seemed ok until recently when I did notice leaves turning gray and dropping off the tree. The tree is watered approx. every other day. We have put out ant power thinking perhaps the ants were feasting. Can you tell me what to do? This tree is in the sun, about 5′ from a pecan tree. Thanks for your help.

    • Jan said,

      June 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm

      It is not ants that are causing your problem, John. I would think that it might be that it is not getting enough water since it has become so very hot recently, and if you are like we are, there has not been enough rain lately. You need to water deeply. Put the hose about ten inches from the tree and let the water barely trickle out. I mean barely trickle out. Let it stay there for several hours until the water has penetrated deep down. Watch the root ball and make sure it is moist. I have found that often the surrounding soil is damp, but the root ball isn’t. Remember your tree has not had enough time to send roots out into the surrounding soil yet. If you water a tree or shrub this way, you should not have to water so frequently. Make sure you are not overwatering because that can also cause a tree to die. It is a hard to advise you since I haven’t seen your tree. If it does not improve quickly, I would contact the greenhouse where you purchased it for some help.

      • JNelson said,

        June 15, 2009 at 9:22 am

        John here, thanks Jan for your assistance and Dan also. The water trickle seems to have brought more life to the tree. We do have nice new green shoots coming, the leaves that turned yellow and fell to ground have slowed, so believe it was just dry. We have not had much moisture up this way. We are approx. 45 mi. north of BR and about 50 miles from McComb, so McComb has “paid the preacher” so to speak and get the rain. Any way, will continue the watch and if not better will contact Mary Ann at the Greenhouse. Will keep you guys posted!

      • Jan said,

        June 15, 2009 at 11:12 am

        John, I am glad to hear that your tree seems to have perked up. I occasionally have to water my trees like that, sometimes even overnight. I hope it continues to improve.

    • Dan said,

      June 15, 2009 at 6:05 am

      Pecan tree’s get over 100′ tall right? planting the magnolia 5 feet from it is really close. Anyways, this spring as I have said I bought alot of magnolias and they all have done great except one. I bought a golden sun magnolia and that one did what yours did. It had a few leaves on it when it arrived and it tried to send out new shoots but they kept wilting and falling off. soon they would grow out and turn mushy. Then no growth and slowly the twigs died and eventually the plant. I contacted the nursery and they sent me a new tree and this one has been perfect thus far. Had it maybe 3 weeks now and its growing great. I think the other one had root problems that were uncurable

      • Jan said,

        June 15, 2009 at 7:33 am

        Thanks, Dan, for your insight as to John’s tree. I think contacting the nursery now is the best idea either for help or a new tree.

  80. Jim said,

    July 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Hi Jan,
    My wife wants to get a Saucer Magnolia ( I believe same as Japanese Mag) and I have been trying to figure out if would work well in our climate. We live in Madison, WI. There is a local seller that has them, but he did not seem to know much about how they will fare here. We are mostly worried that we will be getting this tree for its springtime flower show but never get to enjoy it with frosts well into April/May. Any help is appreciated.

    Thanks, Jim

    • Jan said,

      July 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm

      Jim, I believe Japanese Magnolias are hardy to zone 5. Do you see any of these planted in gardens in you area? The trees do not start blooming until it warms up a little, but a late frost will damage any flowers that have emerged. Here in the Gulf Coast, we rarely get a late frost, so this is not a problem for us. You might want to check with your local extension service for information on how Japanese Magnolias do in your specific area before you buy any trees just to make sure they will bloom at a time when the flowers will survive so that you and your wife can enjoy them.

  81. Chris said,

    September 6, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    We live in Jax FL and our Jap Mag tree is three years old. I thought it was a shrub but after reading the info it came with it said that it will grow to 30′. My question is it does not have a main trunk but many branches that come up from the base. How should I trim it to let it grow into a nice tall full tree?
    he tree was given to me when my mother past away from friends and it is planted right outside my kitchen window in our yard.

    • Jan said,

      September 7, 2009 at 5:08 am

      Chris, what a nice way to remember your mother. I don’t think I have ever seen a Japanese Magnolia that was just one trunk, usually they have two to three major ones. This is what gives them their wonderful sculptural look. If I were you, I would probably trim out all but maybe three of the biggest branches that are coming out of the ground. It is hard to tell you what to do without seeing your actual tree, but you may want to look around and see what larger ones look like in your area and that should give you a good idea of what you want to do with yours. I hope this helps.

  82. Lorien said,

    March 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I have an issue and I cant seem to find an answer to solve it. We are moving from the house we were buying, to a rental house. My magnolia is my baby, but cant replant it at the rental and dont want to leave it. It is only about 3.5 to 4 ft tall so I was thinking that maybe I could transplant it to a large pot for a while until we move somewhere more permanent. Can anyone tell me if this will work or if maybe there is another solution I am not thinking of?

    • Jan said,

      April 2, 2010 at 6:13 am

      Lorien, I think your magnolia would do okay in a large container for a while. Just make sure to keep it watered as a tree in a container can dry out fairly fast under summer conditions.

  83. MIke said,

    April 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Hello, I’m in New Orleans and I’m concerned about my Japanese Magnolias. They are fully mature, about 20 feet tall, and get sun about half the day. The two trees started dropping leaves at an alarming rate, and the new leaves are dry and curling up. I think they are in shock. I just scraped away about four inches of mulch, thinking that they are suffocating. I had a layer of pine chips and then was putting the trees’ droppings on top of that. Maybe a bit too much? What else can I do to return them to good health? ps we had an abnormally cold winter this year– thanks, Mike

    • Jan said,

      April 28, 2010 at 8:36 am

      Mike, I think that with the very dry weather we have been having for the last month, four inches of mulch may have been a little too much if you are also adding the dropped leaves. The only thing I can think of that could be the problem is that your trees may be drought stressed. Just until the last rain on Friday, this area went almost a month without any appreciable rain, and when trees are putting out new growth, lack of rain is not good. For the time being, I would water the trees and monitor the situation to see if it improves. This is my best guess right now, hope this helps.

  84. Dan said,

    April 28, 2010 at 9:33 am

    The cold shouldn’t have been a problem. Most Japanese magnolias can handle really cold weather. If it is established and 20 ft tall, even drought shouldn’t be a problem. They usually can handle themselves once established well. If you’ve gone a month without water though, that does seem like a logical place to start since the roots are closer to the surface and may need for you to water them.

    • Jan said,

      April 28, 2010 at 5:43 pm

      Yes, Dan, I think it just may be a lack of water, too. It is hard to diagnose any problem without actually seeing the trees in question. I hope Mike’s trees will recover with a bit of water.

  85. Dan said,

    April 28, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Jan, been a while since this site has seen action.. Have you planted any more magnolias?

    • Jan said,

      April 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm

      No, Dan, I haven’t planted any more. Last summer, the heat came on very early and was horrendous. Fall was extremely dry. Then, came the unusually cold weather this winter. I was afraid to plant any trees under such stressful conditions. I am hoping for more normal conditions this year, so that maybe I can put in a couple more magnolias.

  86. Don said,

    May 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I planted a Japanese Magnolia 3 years ago and it has not grow in height or width since it was planted. This past spring it did not bloom. It did sprout leaves but not full. I have tested the soil and did not find the soil to be lacking in any perticular area. I also planted a second for a family member at the same time (3 years ago) and it has more than doubled in size. Both trees are located in the Nashville TN area. Any ideas on why the one would not have grown?

    • Jan said,

      May 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      My own personal opinion and best guess, without seeing your tree, is that there is a problem with the roots. For example, I have found that nurseries often let plants dry out and the roots are damaged, then when they water the plants, the plant perks up, but with damaged roots it doesn’t do well when planted in the ground. Another problem occurs if the plant is root bound, and then it is planted without cutting the roots or teasing them apart. The roots continue to grow in a circle and not out. If your tree is not too big, you may consider digging it up to see what the root ball looks like. You also can contact your local extension service, and they may have other ideas about the problem for your area. After three years, your tree should be growing.

  87. Michelle Kay said,

    May 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Hi Jan,
    I live in New Orleans and recently bought a house with a small rectangular plant bed. I have always loved Japanese Magnolias and enjoyed looking at them in Louisiana as well as in Cincinnati, where I lived for a short time. The plant bed area is 5 1/2ft x 8ft. directly in front of our house. I would really like to plant a Japanese Magnolia in the center of the bed. I noticed two water pipes on either sides of where it would be planted, one is 1 1/2ft away and the other is three ft away. The sidewalk is directly in front of the plant bed. My worries are that the roots will interfere with the water pipes, sidewalk or/and foundation of the house. What do you think?

    • Jan said,

      May 12, 2010 at 6:34 pm

      Michelle, I think that area would be pretty tight for a Japanese Magnolia. One of the problems I foresee is if high winds would knock over the tree in the future, then the water pipes could be pulled up and broken. Also, are you sure they are both water pipes? One could be a gas line. If it was I, I don’t think I would plant a Japanese Magnolia in such a small area unless there is lawn on one side of the planting bed. Also, remember that the flowers will fall on the sidewalk, and they can be slippery when walked on. Isn’t there some other area where you could plant this tree that you like so much?

  88. Ann said,

    August 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Grew up with Jap. mag. mother pruned as shrub in a large front yard. Later she had a tall, narrow, multi-trunked tree next to front of house. Both in Baton Rouge, needed minimal pruning. Both filled with buds and flowers bloomed when expected. Over the years, grew them in other states. Now in west-central FL. one growing in enriched top soil, well drained plant bed with Encores, sasanquas, etc. tree 6ft. from porch, south side house. Properly watered since planted. Tree loaded with hairy buds with couple almost to opening, but flowers didn’t open. Tips turned brown. Tree has A.M. to mid-day sun with dappled sun/shade after. When should buds start forming on the tree? In fall? When noticed, a couple had grown to almost opening stage and truned brown. I removed them and the other buds. The tree is producing ‘water sprouts’ like crazy. Healthy, beautiful, large leaves with strong stems coming from the ground. Been pruning them off, but wondering is should let some grow and let it form shrub. Did I do wrong? Six ft. tree came from and planted by best nursery in area spring 2009 full of fuzzy buds opened and bloomed at right time. What’s happening?

    • Jan said,

      August 20, 2010 at 3:43 am

      Ann, the buds for a Japanese magnolia form soon after flowering, so pruning should be done no later than late spring. I would continue to cut off the water sprouts unless you want to keep the entire plant pruned back to keep it a shrub. As for the buds drying up, the only thing I can think of is that your tree may need more deep watering since we have had such a hot summer. While Japanese magnolias like well-drained soil, they should not stay dry long. Deep watering will help the buds develop properly. If you have not had any big rain showers lately, I would try watering. I hope this helps.

  89. Ann said,

    August 21, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Jan, thanks for the info. You did help on when tree sets buds. Last year this tree didn’t set them until later in the year. It bloomed very well this spring, second blooming season since planted. We were busy re-landscaping with plants more cold hardy (two bad summers and two bad winters). I didn’t notice the buds until the water sprouts became excessive. At that time, the tree was filled with fuzzy buds at various stages. Two opened from the calyx to form 4″ tubes of lavender petals soon to open. The tips of these turned brown. We’re into daily summer showers now. Because we put in new sod as well as replanted all the beds with more cold tolerant shrubs, we kept everything deeply watered. There is proper drainage in the community with no water standing even after heavy rains. With new plantings, it’s necessary to water every day there is no rain. We were using sprinkler system and hoses for the new sod twice a day during the drouth in this poor soil, until the rains came. The magnolia seems to be the only plant out of sync. This was it’s second blooming season in our yard. My small one in a back bed hasn’t started setting buds yet. I think these are “Roseanne.” I was surprised to see a lavender bud ready to open in Aug. After the tip turned brown, I opened it to find a large caterpillar. Then second lavender bud grew ready to open but didn’t. No caterpillar inside, just the brown tip. I miss the rich soil of south LA, and have enriched all the beds with top soil and black cow in order to have these beautiful plants grow so well down here. Hopefully, more buds will form this summer, as I did debud the tree. I’m wondering if you have ever seen a Japanese magnolia set blooms ready to open in August? Could the buds have turned brown at the tips from too much humidity? It’s humid where you live also, with as much or more summer rains, so you should be familiar with a similar climate. Thanks, Ann

    • Jan said,

      August 21, 2010 at 5:44 am

      Ann, I have seen Japanese magnolias bloom in the fall only after Hurricane Katrina. I think they bloomed then because of the shorter days (as in springtime) and the stress after the hurricane (lack of rain) which combined to confuse them into thinking spring had come early. That is the only time I have seen them bloom outside of spring. It sounds like everything else in your garden is doing okay, but I must say that sprinklers rarely put out enough water for trees. If you are using sprinklers for your new lawn, it may not have been enough water for your magnolia which has deeper roots. The caterpillar is also puzzling since these trees are reported to be just about pest free. You may want to contact your local cooperative extension agent for more help.

      • Ann said,

        August 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm

        Jan, since blooming is set off by shorter days, perhaps the several weeks of intense clouds and rain with little sunshine could have been the culprit. We’re on FL nature coast. The tree is setting new buds, which I’ll leave this time. Yesterday, I dug up a foxtail fern 2 ft. behind the tree. After all that rain, our watering with hoses as well as a specialized sprinkler system, the soil was dry. That end of the bed has no new plants this spring, so didn’t receive the intense watering of the other areas. Sounds as though our stifling heat – index over 100F, high humidity, and morning watering drying fast in this sandy soil could have caused this. It’s good to know the tree is in sync now. We’ve been getting 1/2 to 2 inches of rain almost every day for almost two months. Your info does make sense to me now. My brother told me of plants’ strange behavior after Katrina. He lives to the west of you. We have lots of penta plants with many varieties of swallowtails and other lovely butterflies. Since no evidence of leaves or buds eaten on, perhaps the caterpillar used the bud for protection from the rain and a place to form a cocoon. 🙂 Thanks again. It’s nice to find someone so knowledgable; you’ve helped me immensely. Ann

      • Jan said,

        August 21, 2010 at 1:03 pm

        Glad I could help. Sounds like getting all that rain will have things back to normal even with your sandy soil.

  90. linda gerben said,

    April 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I am tring to find a tree my neighbor has called japanese ornamental magnolia.She said it will only get about 5ft tall & it has almost off white branches.Have you seen such a tree?

    • Jan said,

      April 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Linda, all Japanese magnolias are ornamental. Japanese magnolias have a light gray bark which may appear to be white, but it is not white like an aspen or birch is. As for the height, I am not familiar with one that stays about five feet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. You probably could inquire at a nursery about this.

  91. Laura said,

    June 6, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    I planted my Japanese Magnolia this spring just like I had read. It bloomed and was doing great. It is only about 3 feet tall at this point. Anyway, I am in Georgia and we are being hit with a serious heat wave of 100 degree days. The top of my tree actually looks burned. It appears the tree is struggling in the full sun and heat. I did not mulch around it as I am not a fan of mulch but if I put some around the tree now could it still help protect the shallow roots for the scalding heat? I hate the fact it appears it may die so any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks you

    • Jan said,

      June 7, 2011 at 6:51 am

      Yes, yes, yes. Put mulch on that tree. If Georgia is having the heat wave and drought that Louisiana is having, mulch is a necessity to keep moisture around the roots. Since you just planted your tree this spring, the root system is not established yet and needs moisture often, so remember to water it often. If you want, check out this website from Clemson about caring for newly planted trees.

      • Amanda said,

        June 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm

        I live in Ramona Ca and I am wondering if Japanese Magnolias will grow ok here or not. Any ideas? They sell them at a nursery about an hour away but its a little cooler there.
        I am fine with watering them but I am wondering if the heat will get to them. It can get up to 110 in a hot summer.

      • Jan said,

        June 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

        Amanda, Japanese magnolias grow in zones 9 to 4. If you are in those zones, it should grow for you. You could always check with a local nursery or extension office to be sure. It can get pretty hot here, (not unusual to have some days in the 100’s), and they do well. If you consistently have temps in the 110 range for days on end, I would definitely check with a local expert to make sure this magnolia will survive. Also, do you see any growing in your area? That is often (but not always) a big hint as to how well a plant may do for you. Hope this helps.

  92. Pat said,

    August 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I live in Northern Virginia and have had a Japanese Magnolia for several years. It always blooms beautifully and then produces an abundance of leaves. The problem is that some of the branches are drooping quite a bit. It almost looks as if there are too many leaves near the ends of the branches which is causing them to droop. We have had two years of heavy snow which probably didn’t help. I had to cut off one branch, but don’t really want to cut any more if I can help it. Any suggestions?

    • Jan said,

      August 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      It sounds like it could be the snow, Pat. The limbs on these tree are not that thick. The leaves of a Japanese Magnolia are fairly light, so I don’t think they are weighing the limbs down. This winter, I would make sure and knock off any accumulated snow so that other branches would not be affected. Hope this helps.

  93. Paulette Waller said,

    January 14, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I have a japanese magnolia that I planted about 6 years ago, slow growing but very health, but it is only about 6 1/2 feet tall now. I am moving and would like to transplant the tree to my new location. Is it advisable to transplant one this size. also I am seeing new buds for the blooms now in January. My location is Mobile, AL

    • Jan said,

      January 14, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Paulette, I am not sure about transplanting a tree that is 6 1/2 feet tall. It can be done, but if you have never balled a tree before, it isn’t easy. You would need a pretty big root ball which would make this very heavy. (To determine the root ball size, measure the diameter of the trunk just above the ground. A one inch trunk will need a root ball of 18 inches, and for every one inch more of trunk width, you need to add six inches to the diameter of the root ball. Depending on the size of your tree, this root ball could weigh a hundred pounds or more.) Are you physically able to move this much weight? You probably should seek out the opinion of a local nursery or your local extension office because it could depend on the width of the entire tree also, and they might be able to come out and see your tree or you could show them a photo. I would hate for you to go to all that trouble and have the tree die. It is very disappointing to have to leave behind trees we have planted, but sometimes that is what we have to do.

  94. Peggy said,

    February 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I have a Japanese Magnolia we planted about 5 years ago. When we planted it it was about 2.5 ft. now it isl only about 5 ft. tall. Right now (February 2, 2012) it is has very few buds on it while my neighbors trees are already flowering. Is there something I can do to help this tree?

    • Jan said,

      February 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Peggy, it is hard to say without seeing your tree. Sometimes these trees are a little slow in growing. I would just water and fertilize it.

  95. Lucy said,

    February 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Bloom time and plant size can both be a factor of the variety you have. Do you have the same variety as your neighbor? Our dark purple Japanese magnolia barely has buds when others around town are in full bloom. Right now when the others have lost all or most of their flowers, ours is in full bloom. Here in Lafayette, Louisiana there are a lot of Japanese magnolias of several different varieties and some stay small, or as you say grow more slowly.

    • Jan said,

      February 12, 2012 at 6:34 am

      Lucy, I have noticed exactly this. Another problem which can affect shrubs and trees is how they were treated before you even buy them. If the plants are not watered well or are not purchased and then kept over in the same container and not moved to a larger one, the plant never really recovers or takes years to start to grow well. That is why it is so important to check the root system of plants when you buy trees and shrubs. Another problem can be if they are not planted soon after purchase. These plants are just not meant to stay in small containers, but so often we buy them and then wait months before planting them in the ground. All of this sets them back, and sometimes they just don’t recover.

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