If you are seeing a lot of yellow leaves develop on your magnolia, do not fear. This is normal for magnolias as they transition from spring to summer. Some years we do not see much leaf slough while other years we can see an inordinate amount. The presence of yellow leaves, as you see in the photos, does not mean the tree needs nutrients.
This year, 2012, we are seeing the result of two previous, brutally hot and dry summers, and a relatively warm winter exacerbated by a dry spring. This really takes a toll on trees such as magnolias. The leaves can also loose their glossy sheen.
All evergreen trees slough old leaves or needles to some extent. Some, like pines, even drop needles in the spring and fall. Magnolias routinely slough some older leaves each year and replace them with new leaves. Some magnolias, such as the Bracken’s Brown Beauty, do very little leaf sloughing while others, especially seedling magnolias, can drop a lot of leaves each spring. It simply has to do with the genetics of the individual tree.
The good news is that this leaf drop is only a problem as far as your clean up goes! The trees will be fine if you are watering correctly. You’ll begin to see new growth on the tips once the trees stabilize. Excessive amounts of yellow leaves indicates you are not watering the tree enough during periods of low rainfall. Trees need a consistent 1″ of irrigation or rainfall each week. If the tree canopy is very large, a 1″ rain may not actually even get to the ground. Rain gauges placed below these trees can accurately determine rainfall. The equivalent of 1″ of water is 5 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter. For example, a 5″ tree would need 25 gallons of water per week. Contrary to myth, the larger the tree the more water it requires.
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