En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 24, 2009

From: Webster, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Failure to bloom of Magnolia in Webster FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do all Magnolias Bloom? I live in Central Florida - transplanted a Magnolia 7 1/2 years ago. It is a beautiful tree - very healthy - at least 10-12 ft. It has never had a bloom!! I have another little 2 ft tree that I planted this year in Feb. - It looks terrible - brown leaves - but has 4 flower buds right now! Why is this? What can I do to get my big tree to blossom?

ANSWER:

That's a puzzle to us, too. There are 8 members of the Magnolia genus in our Native Plant Database; 6 of them are native to Florida:

Magnolia acuminata (cucumber-tree) - flowers not showy, only 2 inches across and greenish in color

Magnolia ashei (Ashe's magnolia) - very local distribution, native only to Florida Panhandle

Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia)

Magnolia pyramidata (pyramid magnolia)

Magnolia tripetala (umbrella-tree)

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay)

According to the descriptions of these trees in our database, the only one that might possibly be blooming without your being aware of it is Magnolia acuminata (cucumber-tree). Please go to the Image Gallery page on this tree and see if there is any possibility it is what you have in your garden. We doubt it, because this tree is shown on the USDA Plant Profile as growing only in two counties in the far western part of the Florida Panhandle. 

It is far more likely that you have the  Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia), so we will do a little more research to find out if there are specific reasons why this tree would not be blooming. We found a website called Magnolia Questions and Answers Page, from the Essence of Magnolias and Southern Creations, Inc. websites. You should read all of the article, but we will give you some excerpts on what it said about blooming. In the first place, you may not even know what your magnolia is-it may have been sold as "Southern Magnolia." You could wait a long time for that tree to bloom. If the tree was grown from seed (pretty rare), it definitely won't bloom for 15 to 20 years. The magnolia is slow-growing, and it must reach a certain size, needs to adjust to its surroundings, and needs plenty of sun to bloom. It's possible that the smaller tree that is already blooming is the named cultivar dwarf "Little Gem," which grows very slowly, but will bloom when only 3 to 4 feet tall. 

We will make a couple suggestions. The first is that while the magnolia needs acidic soil and plenty of water, it does not need water standing on its roots, and they will quickly rot. Make sure the drainage is good. Second, watch the fertilizer. It is a well-known fact that too much nitrogen will discourage blooming in just about any plant. Liquid fertilizer is fine, and probably a good idea for the first few years the tree is in the ground, but cut way back on the nitrogen content. Don't use the same fertilizer you do on your lawn. So, more patience and less nitrogen may be your only possible actions. 


Magnolia acuminata

Magnolia ashei

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia pyramidata

Magnolia tripetala

Magnolia virginiana

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Problem with unknown tree in Austin, Texas
July 23, 2013 - Have recently moved to Austin, Texas and have a tree in my backyard that has been dropping leaves and one major branch appears to be dead. That branch has hard rust colored sap circles (about penny si...
view the full question and answer

Will smoketrees (Cotinus sp.) grow in the Texas Panhandle region
June 03, 2010 - Will smoke trees grow in the Lubbock-Amarillo, Texas region of Texas?
view the full question and answer

How Do Persimmons Breed - Starkville, MS
August 14, 2012 - Thank you for your earlier response about the genders of native persimmon trees. We have two, a much larger one that has borne fruit for years and years and a smaller one that I'd just assumed was m...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing evergreen tree to hide power lines
April 10, 2009 - Live in Orange Connecticut and need a tree that grows fast and tall to cover the power lines which are quite tall. I'm thinking evergreen type trees so that the during the winter it provides the cov...
view the full question and answer

Control of ball moss in oak trees
March 23, 2007 - I live in San Marcos, Texas and I have a two acre lot with lots of oak trees. Most of these trees have so much ballmoss attached to them that the leaves and branches are not visible anymore. Is ther...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center