Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 16, 2015

From: Silver Spring, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Southern Magnolia Damaged by Deer
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a young Southern Magnolia (about 6 feet tall) that was damaged by deer on the main trunk. The bottom 2 feet looks okay, but where they damaged it and tore branches off, and above that, the leaves are dying. Is it safe to cut off the damaged 4 feet at the main trunk?

ANSWER:

So sorry that the deer have damaged your young Magnolia grandiflora. From our website ... this is one of the most beautiful native trees, evergreen with straight trunk, conical crown, and very fragrant, very large, white flowers. The pyramidal southern magnolia does not get extremely large in most of its range. It is usually 50 ft. tall, rarely growing to 100 ft. They have a dense growth of smooth, leathery evergreen leaves that are Alternate (Placed singly at different heights on the stem; not opposite or whorled.) 5–10 inches long, shiny on top and rusty below. Fragrant, creamy-white flowers, which discolor easily if bruised, appear on the ends of thick, tough stems all over the tree. They are cup-shaped, about 8 inches across, with 6 thick petals, wider at the tip, where they are cupped. The blossoms open about 9:00 A.M. and close at night for 2 or 3 days; then all the stamens are shed and the flower reopens, turns brown, and disintegrates. The flowers appear throughout the summer and into fall. The flowers produce conelike seedpods that contain large red seeds. When the pods open, the seeds often fall from their place and hang by silky threads.

Planted around the world in warm temperate and subtropical regions, it is a popular ornamental and shade tree, hardy north to Philadelphia. Several horticultural varieties have been developed.

If the deer have girdled the tree by damaging the entire circumference of the cambium layer, the zone just under the bark where water and nutrients flow, then there is little recourse but to prune out the damaged section. Pruning should be done during the growing season because dormant magnolias do not heal easily.

Information about regular pruning of young trees can be found on the treesaregood.com website.

 

From the Image Gallery


Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

More Trees Questions

Fast-growing shade tree for Corona CA
September 17, 2014 - Hi, I'm looking for a fast growing shade tree. I live in Corona CA so it will need to do well in a lot of sun, moderate winds and clay soil. Thanks so much for your suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Possibility of oak wilt or iron deficiency
September 04, 2007 - This spring my two oak trees, 4" and 7" in diameter, in my yard in Kyle started showing very light green leaves with green veins. I've been told this is chlorosis, so I treated them with a couple o...
view the full question and answer

Problems with dogwood borers in TN
April 20, 2011 - What is the best way to treat native dogwoods infested with Dogwood borer insects? I have cut and removed the dead ones and the ones with large patches of bark missing but would like to save the remai...
view the full question and answer

Trees starting to die in subdivision in Hutto, TX
May 31, 2012 - I live in Hutto Tx, in a subdivision where everyone has the 2 trees planted in the front yard. My trees have started to die, and I want to find out what kind they are to find a solution
view the full question and answer

Tree to replace Betula nigra (River birch) in Memphis
August 13, 2012 - HI Mr. Smarty Pants, I think I need to replace the river birch tree in my west-facing front yard in Memphis, TN. I have sun all day, but it gets really hot in the afternoon. The soil in my yar...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.