Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Magnolia Problems

Any imbecile, it seems, can grow a Jane Magnolia. Among the adjectives used to describe it on various websites are: "hardy," "disease-resistant," "foolproof," "can't-miss." One site even listed it as an ideal plant for the horticulturally challenged, along with Daylilies and English Ivy.

I know all of this because I've been searching for an explanation as to why my Jane Magnolia died.

I bought three of them back in February and planted them in the same general area. The one that died, I planted on Feb 9, the others a month later. We had several nights in the 20s in February and March, but I can't imagine that would have killed the tree. Buds, yes, but not the tree.

Whatever it was seemed to be some kind of rot, and it seemed to die from the top down. The stems turned dark and when I scraped the bark with my fingernail, it felt like mush. It leafed out, but within days, each new leaf had died. (A second tree seems to have a little of this at the stem tip, but so far is doing okay.)

I keep all my plant receipts for just this reason, so I dug up the tree and took it back to Lowes, where I got a refund with no problem. Their few remaining Janes didn't look too good, but I found another, unlabeled Magnolia soulangiana, which seems identical to one I planted three years ago and which has given me no trouble.

(I saved the tag from that one, but it is most unhelpful, as it neglects to mention the cultivar. This one has darker leaves than Jane, and its blooms are a darker purple. Both bloom about the same time. Any Magnolia experts out there care to hazard a guess? Jane is on the left, the new one is on the right.)

10 comments:

Barbee' said...

Sorry, I don't know that much about Magnolias. I hope someone comes along who can give you some valuable feedback.

Gina said...

hi david - i have no clue about your Jane but I do have 2 now confirmed dead Weigela Wine and Roses that the guy told me today that I should return to HD. Do you think they'll take them back without a receipt?

Lori said...

Hmm. I don't know much about magnolias, but I'd like to find out what caused it to kick it, since the weird way it died back sounds just like what happened to one of my roses.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Twould be a guess from me since I am no expert. One strike against the plant would be it came from Lowes. Sometimes their plants are potted in the worst soil and they don't have a chance by the time they get planted into your garden.

Wrenna said...

It sounds like it had a disease or fungus. I hope whatever it was didn't contaminate your soil!

David in Greensboro, NC said...

I guess I could make up a name, huh Barbee?

You killed Weigela, Gina??? OK, now I don't feel so bad (just kidding!) If you used a credit card they might can find the purchase by the card number. Or you could threaten to write nasty things about the store on your blog!

I can only guess some kind of fungus, Lori.

True, Lisa, although I've actually had good luck with plants from this Lowes. The old magnolia came from there...which might explain the unhelpful label.

Oh, great, Wrenna...something else for me to worry about!

Connie said...

My condolences on your Magnolia...glad you were able to replace it. A magnificent tree!

Carolyn gail said...

Tree expert here, David :) You've got "Ricki " , Jane's cousin ! I sell a lot of those.

I'm passing on the E for excellent blog award to ya so come on over and git 'er.

tony said...

I recently planted a jane and it was doing great, putting on a few new leaves and I watered it every so often. It has been extremely hot here in Southern OK and more watering of the plants is necessary. But, now some of the leaves are dying. Just turning a dead-looking brown. I read that magnolias need a good amount of magnesium and so I mixed some Epsom salts and poured around the base of the little tree. I don't know what else to do as it doesn't exhibit any symptoms of disease such as spots, yellowing and etc. Any suggestions. The soil where I am at is awful..........mostly clay and rocks (sand stone) so I have added Miracle Grow to the water every so often. Doesn't seem to do much good.
Thanks....Tony

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