September 21, 2012 @ 5:26 PM

There is an abundance of Magnolia varieties hardy to our Southeast Texas region. To know how to best care for your Magnolia, it is important that you first know the species that you have.  Some Magnolias are deciduous, and some are evergreen. Winter is approaching fast, and many ask what would be appropriate pre-winter Magnolia care. Here is a good list to use as a guide for most Magnolia varieties:

Magnolia Care for Root Systems

Magnolias tend to have shallow root structures. If you are anticipating a cold spell, it is good to have a nice blanket of mulch or leaf litter to protect Magnolia root structures.

What Happens if Magnolia Flowers and Leaves Get Frostbite?

Magnolia trees popular here in Southeast Texas, like the grandiflora and the sweet bay varieties, are evergreen and maintain their leaves through the winter. The cold weather is usually not the culprit if you find something suspicious going on with the leaves. But the magnolia flowers are another story. It can happen around these parts that a warm early spring can be foiled by a sudden late frost. When that happens, Magnolia flowers that have already formed buds are very vulnerable. If the buds experience frost they are at risk of the bud never opening to a bloom. Why? Because, in the process of being frostbitten, the Magnolia bud experiences internal rot.  Nothing can be done but wait for the next blooming season

Falling Magnolia leaves

You may notice that  Magnolia leaves turn brown and fall off in Spring, and you might be inclined to worry that this is a sign of a difficult winter for your Magnolia. Not necessarily so, as evergreen Magnolias do tend to shed leaves year-round, even in spring. If, however, you notice black spots on leaves, and that the spotted leaves turn brown and fall off, you might be witnessing a phenomena called “leaf spot.” This is a moisture-induced fungus, and for this you can blame our ever-present humidity. Leaf spot is a disease, and once it has set in, the best thing to do is remove the affected leaves. The way to deal with leaf spot is before it rears its ugly head, and spray the tree before it develops leaf spot. A good antifungal spray should be part of your Magnolia care plan.

Pruning a Magnolia

Pruning  a Magnolia is something that you do not have to do. You can take that right off your list of landscape responsibilities; unless the pruning is to maintain the tree branches at a safe distance from power lines, or issues of that sort. If you do need to prune back a Magnolia, try to time your pruning for after the blooming season. Magnolias set their next crop of buds soon after their flowering, so go ahead and enjoy those beautiful blooms before pulling out the loppers.

When it comes to ornamental tree care, the lovely magnolia is one of the easier trees.  Enjoy it for looks, and enjoy it also for its relatively low maintenance.