En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Newly planted magnolia in Hedron NE

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 - September 19, 2010

From: Hedron, NE
Region: Midwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Transplants, Trees
Title: Newly planted magnolia in Hedron NE
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We planted a Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' in our landscape about 2 weeks ago. It is approx 7' tall. My question is should the leaves on it all be turning brown and crisp already or are doing something wrong? We purchased it from a very reputable nursery. Thanks for your help!!

ANSWER:

You probably answered your own question when you said (on September 13) that you had planted the tree 2 weeks ago, which would have put the planting on about the first of September. We understand that it's cooler in Nebraska than it is in Texas, but summer is not the time to plant a woody plant anywhere. The tree is probably suffering from transplant shock; in Thayer County, we would imagine it is recommended that you plant woody plants in early Spring, after (hopefully) the last frost, while the tree is still semi-dormant. However, you also shouldn't buy one and hold it in the pot for that many months so, having bought it, you did right to get it in the ground right away.

We'll tell you what we know about your plant and see if we can help you keep it alive. Magnolia stellata is native to Japan. The name 'Royal Star' is no doubt a trade name given to the tree for additional sales appeal. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown, so your tree is really out of our range of expertise. There are several magnolias native to North America, but none are listed as growing in Nebraska. Your USDA Hardiness Zone is 5a to 5b, and the magnolia is hardy from Zones 4 to 8, so the temperature is not the main culprit. We don't know what your soils are, but the fact that none of the native magnolias are native to Nebraska is a clue. The magnolia likes moist, organic, fertile soil and full sun. It is prone to damage from heavy snow and ice.

We hope that, whatever your soil, you dug in some organic matter such as compost to amend the soil texture and make nutrients and water in the soil more accessible to the tiny rootlets on the tree. If not, at least add compost or shredded hardwood mulch to the surface soil. This will not only protect the roots from heat and cold but, as it decomposes, it will improve the texture of the soil. Beyond that, your best bet is to insert a hose as deep into the soil around the roots as you can push it, and let it dribble slowly, until water reaches the surface. If the water remains on the surface more than 30 minutes instead of soaking in, you probably have clay soil, which magnolias don't like but will tolerate. The best treatment for a clay soil is, again, organic material in the soil, which helps with good drainage. As long as it is still hot and especially if you are not getting regular rains, repeat the "dribble" treatment at least twice a week.

After that, the best you can do is protect the roots with mulch and wait for Spring. If it doesn't leaf out in the Spring, it's a goner. Sorry.

See this Washington State University County Extension article on Magnolia Stellata 'Royal Star.'

Pictures of Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' from Google.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Time to transplant an Eastern Redbud in Pearland, TX
November 17, 2010 - When is the best time in the fall to transplant an Eastern Redbud tree in Pearland, TX? We have one approximately 6 feet tall in the back yard and want to move it to the front ASAP.
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade under pine trees in Grapevine TX
May 16, 2010 - What plants are good to put under pine trees in the shade? I live in the Dallas Fort Worth area? The previous owners stuck a Japanese Maple in there that seems to be ok and some sort of holly bush (n...
view the full question and answer

Clay hill with erosion problems in Reedsport OR
July 10, 2009 - We have a very steep 35-40' clay hill subject to erosion in the Oregon rainy season. How or what do we do to get some kind of vegetation/grass, etc to grow without washing away? We have had mudslides...
view the full question and answer

Transplant time for Virginia Beach, VA
July 08, 2009 - I have a friend who is not a gardener but lives on a piece of property that has a gorgeous back yard with lots of plants, shrubs and trees that are becoming overgrown. I have her permission to dig up...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow on the Connecticut coast
June 08, 2010 - I live on the coast in Connecticut and have a hard time growing plants here. I live about 1/2 mile from the beach and find that my soil is very rocky. The only plants that have done well in my yard ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center