What can I do to make a Magnolia grandiflora grow taller?

Discussion in 'Magnoliaceae' started by AnnandaleVirginia, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. AnnandaleVirginia

    AnnandaleVirginia Member

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    I'm brand new to this forum & glad it exists! I found it using Google searching for help on pruning Magnolia grandifloras.

    I found one post here, where the person wanted to prune their tree to make stay where it was and not get taller. I have just the opposite problem.

    In March of 2004 (early springtime weather at that time), I planted a Magnolia grandiflora in honor of my daughter's first birthday. I fertilized the tree following directions from the fertilizer package and gave it plenty of water. The tree shot up quickly! I was really impressed. Then in the winter of 2005, we had a Windy Snowstorm, which caused the upper third of the tree to break off. Heartbroken, I asked a friend who owns a landscaping business (who also helped plant the tree) if I could duct tape the top back together, hoping the tree might "repair itself" and continue to grow (this shows you how much I know about gardening :) ). My friend suggested I cut out the damaged part and see what happens; see if the tree would grow taller.

    Now, June 2008, the tree might have grown an inch or two taller in the center, but I'm not sure. The branches on the top sides of the tree have shot up to what looks as if those branches are trying to take the place of the center. The upper growth is thick and the side growth for limbs is fair.

    My question is, should I prune some of the lower limbs in hopes that the tree will benefit and grow even taller? I would welcome at least 40 ft of growth from the tree, but do not know if that will ever happen?

    I welcome all advice and suggestions.

    Thanks in advance, Dave
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Top pruning reduces food-making foliage and food-storing stems so overall size increase is reduced when you prune away part of a tree. The only benefit is to you, in that you get a structure from the tree that you prefer to the one you had - if pruning is successful.

    Since this magnolia has already shown a tendency to break in snow future problems of that nature should be expected. Remove and replace with a compact snow-resistant named cultivar such as 'St. Mary' or 'Victoria'. These will still have some breakage under wet snow but much less than many others might.

    'Edith Boque' has also been described as snow-resistant but a friend's small specimen had most of the side-branches shear off under snow, leaving the main stem standing there nearly denuded. Possibly it is tougher under hotter summer conditions than we have here, forming and ripening firmer wood.
     
  3. AnnandaleVirginia

    AnnandaleVirginia Member

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    Ron,

    Thanks for your suggestions! I found this link on the 'St. Mary'

    http://hort.ufl.edu/trees/MAGGRAC.pdf

    It looks like this tree would work fine. The growth in the article suggests 20 to 25 ft. That can work for this space with room for more height.

    Do you have any opinions on the 'Little Gem'? I have seen those in my neighborhood & they seem to do well here.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I have seen 'Little Gem' broken in half by snow here. In my region it is also apt to be partly defoliated by what appears to be a foliage mildew, quite a proportion of the now far-too-many specimens planted here looking as though having lived through a hurricane.

    This one is also comparatively tender, perhaps not safe for use of much duration below Zone 7.
     

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