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 - 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 Trees Questions

Sudden death of one side of Mountain Laurel from Canyon Lake TX
July 22, 2013 - Hello! We live in Canyon Lake TX and have a Mountain Laurel that is in distress. It is planted in an irrigated flower bed and has been happily growing for 5 years. It is about 5' tall and has sever...
view the full question and answer

Possible reasons for non-fruiting wild plum
March 10, 2007 - My grandfather has land in Lee County with thickets of wild plum, I believe creek plum is another name. However, they never seem to produce plums while thickets nearby on the roadside less than one mi...
view the full question and answer

Watering a Chinquapin Oak in Austin, TX
June 22, 2014 - I have a question about watering. I planted a Chinquapin Oak about 7 months ago and it's about 8 feet tall and doing well. I water it weekly on a slow drip for about an hour. I expect that my job is ...
view the full question and answer

Quercus polymorpha botanical name for Mexican white oak
June 19, 2007 - What is the scientfic name for the Monterrey Oak?
view the full question and answer

Fruiting times of native trees and shrubs in the Pacific Norhwest
December 30, 2013 - I am looking for information on fruiting/seeds/nuts times of native trees and shrubs in the Pacific Northwest. Obviously they fruit after they bloom but all I can find is very general information such...
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