Powdery mildew or something else?

Discussion in 'Magnoliaceae' started by kdbest, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. kdbest

    kdbest Member

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    Vancouver, Canada
    I have a young magnolia soulangeana with some health problems.
    It bloomed the first spring we had it, but then the leaves turned grey at the tips and eventually dropped off. The nursery it came from recommended a 10-10-10 fertilizer which seemed to stop that problem. Later in the summer, however, it got what looked like powdery mildew - there were grey spots, which became brown spots, and then the leaves fell off.

    This spring, there were no blooms, just lots of leaves. (Too much fertilizer maybe?) I gave it a little fertilizer again in the early spring. The mildew-like symptoms are still there even though there are lots of new leaves and more coming. (as in the attached pix.)

    My questions would be ..
    Does it have mildew and what would be the best thing to do for that?
    Is there something to do to encourage blooms in the spring?
    Is there a more organic approach to fertilizer that would be good for this type of tree?

    Thanks for any suggestions or comments!

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    Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
  2. lainie

    lainie Member

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    Wilmington, IL, USA
    Hi-I was looking for something else and came across your post and noticed no one had responded. I'm no expert but I've had some of the same issues with my magnolias and thought at least maybe I could help give some clues to help you figure out what might be going on.

    First off. I have two that when I purchased where beautifully in bloom and after bringing home and transplanting have yet to bloom--one I lost and the other has not grown much and I've had now 4 years. I have a 3rd that I mail ordered as root stock 7 years ago and last year finally had 1 flower. Hard to believe I actually am a fairly decent gardener. I should note that I'm trying to garden is almost pure sand and I do supplement with compost but it's not easy. UGH!

    A couple things I've realized is that moving these gorgeous trees from their perfect nursery environment where they are protected from extreme environments, watered and feed on a perfect schedule and have the perfect soil mix is hard to compete with so the transplating is a tough go. I've also learned that even though I'm in a zone 5, I believe my yard has microclimate that imitate zone 4 more often than not. Magnolias like to be protected and like acidic soil (you can try to improve your soil but it's hard to change overall) and flower buds are set the previous year so nothing you do in the spring will give you flowers then. Also anything that promotes leaf or root growth obviously will mean less flowers next spring. (e.g., I purposely avoided all nitrogen fertilizers around my wisteria to encourage blooming.)

    When I saw your pictures my first thought was leaf burn--not enough water. Again, I'm no expert and it's just a guess and hopefully someone with more expertise will respond. But I would suggest analyzing where you've planted your magnolia and what type of care you've given it.

    I've also read somewhere that it takes 3 years for a tree to recover from trauma--we had a drought one summer after planting new trees and were away and sure enuf, now 3 years finally they are coming back strong.

    Hope you can figure out what the issue is. I love magnolias and just replaced the one I lost this year (Jane Magnolia) and am hoping for better success in the coming years.

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