Magnolia Care

Solutions to Tree Problems From Brown Leaves to Buds Not Opening

magnolia tree in front of a home

The Spruce / Kara Riley 

Magnolia care starts with the identification of your tree. What type of magnolia tree do you have? For example:

Questions about magnolia care range from problems regarding specific plant parts (e.g., problems with the leaves, problems with the buds, etc.) to the need for information on pruning. Some questions aren't readily answerable unless one has access to the landscape in question. For example, although experts can address why you should water trees in fall, they can, at best, only guess about the precise amount of water your particular magnolia tree will need, because conditions dictate water requirements, including your soil type. What is an optimal amount of irrigation in one landscape may be too much or too little water in another. Every case is unique.

But in the following FAQ, I provide information in response to magnolia care questions that are at least partially answerable:

Magnolia Care:

Q.-- The Flower Buds on My Magnolia Tree Aren't Opening Up. How come?

There are a number of possible reasons why magnolia buds fail to open in spring. I provide a few of those reasons in this FAQ. Two of those reasons have to do with weather.

Q.-- This Fall, I've Found Some Funny-Looking Bumps on My Magnolia Trees. Is This Some Sort of Disease?

The "bumps" in this case turn out to be a false alarm. But it's an understandable mistake for a beginner. View the picture in this FAQ to see what caused one reader to worry; armed with this knowledge, you won't make the same mistake (there's plenty else to worry about without enduring false alarms, right?).

Q.-- I Have a Southern Magnolia. Its Leaves Have Turned Yellow. Is It Dying?

Southern magnolias are one of the grand trees of the South. When their leaves turn yellow, that may or may not be a sign of a problem. Click the link above to learn more.

Q.-- When Should You Prune Magnolia Trees?

Some homeowners feel that their specimens are getting too big and wonder about pruning them to make them more compact. This is really a two-fold question:

  1. Should you prune a magnolia tree?
  2. And, if you are going to prune one, what's the best time to prune?

Q.-- I'm Growing a Magnolia Tree in a Container? How Should I Care for It?

Fulfilling sunlight requirements won't be a problem when you have a potted magnolia tree, since you can move it around at will, presumably. But watering is another matter altogether....

Q.-- How Do You Control Magnolia Scale?

Scale bugs are among the most curious of insects you'll ever see. Often, the first challenge for the beginner consists simply in recognizing that these scaly objects are, indeed, insects....

Q.-- There's a Black Coating on My Specimen, and Ants Are Running All Over It. What's Wrong?

Don't assume that the ants and the black coating are the sources of the problem. They're actually both effects, not causes; consider their presence a signal for what's really wrong.

Q.-- My Magnolia's Leaves Developed Black Spots, Turned Brown and Fell Off. Help!

This problem may not be as dire as it sounds. In this FAQ I tell you how to address the issue. I also suggest ways to implement the principle that says, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Q.-- My Tree Now Has Dead Branches on It, After a Harsh Winter. How Much Should I Prune Off?

The presence of dead branches is a problem that can usher homeowners into a state of panic. But don't lose hope. Remain calm and apply a little scrutiny, following the steps I provide in this answer.

Q.-- The Leaves on My Magnolia Trees Have Turned Brown. Are My Specimens Dead?

The appearance of brown leaves out of season is always a troubling sight. Read the FAQ linked to above to learn why context is everything in addressing this problem.

Q.-- Would Dropping Coffee Grounds Around My Magnolia Tree Solve a Problem or Create One?

Well, that depends. Don't fall into the solution-in-search-of-a-problem syndrome. Coffee grounds could help solve a certain problem, but first find out if you even have it! That problem is the subject of this FAQ.

There are, of course, many other types of specimens known for their blossoms that are available for residential landscaping.

magnolia blossoms that haven't fully opened
The Spruce / Kara Riley

Watch Now: How to Prune a Tree

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Magnolia. Clemson University Website