Local landscapes: My magnolias look sick!

May 18, 2013 1:53:10 PM



The older leaves of your Southern Magnolia are yellow and dropping all over the lawn. The remaining green leaves are even hanging down, giving the plant a sad, sickly look. You're concerned it's just not going to make it. Well, don't fret; this is usually nothing to be too alarmed about. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) trees will continually drop leaves throughout the year, but have a large leaf drop during the early part of May. As long as new leaves and blooms are visible also, there is little reason to be concerned. As with any plant, clean up the leaves after the leaf drop is complete to prevent any potential disease problems. This is a better solution than just mulching the leaves, since they do not shred very easily.  


Magnolias have numerous cultivars to choose from. Little Gem and Alta are two that grow slow and top out around 20 feet high. D.D. Blanchard is another that grows to be near 30 feet high. These and other cultivars can be found at your local garden centers.  


May is a good time to begin pruning those ornamental shrubs and trees that have finished blooming. It is best to only cut about one-third of the plant off at any one time. This also provides an opportunity to remove any dead or diseased limbs and to check for insect damage.  


Lace bugs on azaleas, white flies on gardenias, scale on euonymous and aphids on crepe myrtles can all create damage if left unattended. To properly control these and other pests, take samples of them to your local Extension office, CO-OP, or garden center to be identified. Proper treatment can then be correctly recommended. 


This is also a great time for planting annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. I just planted my summer annuals this week. These plants will need to be kept watered on a regular basis, assuming it stops raining at some point. Mulching these new plantings will also help to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and moderate soil temperatures. This will allow for the plants greatest chance of survival.  


If you have any questions, contact the Lowndes County Extension office at 662-328-2111 or visit msucares.com.