It?s sometimes scary but all Southern magnolias can look bad during spring. At this time much of the foliage fills with leaf spots, turns yellow and drops from the trees. In spite of these few weeks until the trees resume growth magnolias are beautiful carefree trees.
Plant them in moist sites or use them in dry sandy landscape situations. All they need is a good start and they are on their own. Make sure the soil remains moist for a full year after planting. Daily watering may be needed during the dry months until roots begin growing in the surrounding soil.
Gardeners often notice brown and white spotting of the leaves during the fall and winter months. Dark spots are usually due to a fungus but cause minor damage and controls are seldom needed. White oval spots are insects known as white magnolia scale. Even though they look threatening most are parasitized by a wasp and usually ignored.
If you are enjoying a magnolia with creamy white sweet spring flowers here are a few more tips to keep it attractive.
- Maintain a 3- to 4-inch mulch layer over the root system.
- Keep the main trunk to one central leader to promote upward growth.
- Feed new trees in March and May for the first three years; older trees do not need special feedings.
- Allow the lower limbs to hang to the ground or trim them up for easier maintenance.
- Water only during periods of extended drought.
There are a number of different magnolias but not all grow that well in Central Florida. One more you may want to plant is the sweetbay magnolia. It is more of an upright tree that grows best in the moist soil. It has smaller blossoms but give a good spring display too.