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Saturday - February 04, 2012

From: Voorhees, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Buds disappearing from magnolia in New Jersey
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in New Jersey.I planted my 5.gal Vulcan magnolia in December. It came with 4 big buds and 3 small buds.I planted in good location where it gets lots of sun. The tree is well settled and looked healthy. Everyday I look at the tree and make sure the buds were fine. Yesterday when I looked at my Vulcan, I couldn't see the big buds and I didn't see them fallen on the ground, either. Is it natural or somebody did it on purpose? I was waiting for the spring to see the first blooms. As spring is just few weeks away and now I can't see the blooms this year. I'm so upset and disappointed. Will the small buds bloom this spring or do I need to wait until next spring? Can somebody get back to me with an answer?


We can't speculate on whether you have magnolia vandals, the possibility never occurred to us. Do you have deer in your area? We hear from many people who are constantly having trouble with deer eating everything in sight. If the browsing pickings for deer otherwise were pretty slim, they might have thought a magnolia bud would be a tasty snack. If the tree was right on a sidewalk or close to a street, there is always the possibility of a human browser, but we can't think what they would do with the bud.

So, we'll try to find some other possibilities. We had not heard of a "Vulcan" magolia, so we went web-surfing to see what we could learn. The first thing that we learned is that the variety 'Vulcan" was hybridized by Felix Jury of New Zealand. Its parentage is M. campbellii var. mollicomata 'Lanarth' x M. liliflora hybrid, none of which are native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Mr. Smarty Plants are dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection to plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they grow naturally. No members of the Magnolia genus in the many plants that have been hybridized to make this plant appear in our Native Plant Database.

There are 8 members of the Magnolia genus native to North America, 3 are native to New Jersey. They are: Magnolia acuminata (Cucumbertree), Magnolia tripetala (Umbrella tree), and Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay). About the only clue we got on the problems you have had with your tree buds is this statement from  BackyardGardener.com   which includes this statement: "Flowers in early spring so it must be sheltered from frost and winds. It is often grafted on to different root stock for earlier maturing plants."

Because we are unfamiliar with the habits of this hybrid, we can't tell you if you will get blossoms from the tree this year. It could be suffering from transplant shock, which is quite common. A well-planted tree, which it sounds like yours is, will survive but may very well not bloom for the first or even the first two or three years.




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