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Featured Plant for March

The Magnolia

merrill-magnolia

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Dr. Merrill Magnolia

Magnificent flowering plants featuring blossoms in white, pink, red, purple, or yellow. Magnolias are diverse in leaf shape and plant form, and they include both evergreen and deciduous sorts. They aren’t usually munched by deer.

Magnolia trees generally do quite well in California.

One of the best features of magnolias is that they bloom early and are very fragrant.

 

Magnolia Gardening Tips

  • Careful Siting: Pick a location where the shallow, fleshy roots won’t be damaged by digging or by soil compaction from constant foot traffic.
     
  • Soil: Magnolias appreciate fairly rich, well-drained, neutral to slightly acid soil amended with plenty of organic matter at planting time. They will grow in somewhat alkaline soil but may develop chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins).
     
  • Mulching: At least in the early years, keep a cooling mulch over the root area.
     Watering: Irrigate deeply and thoroughly, but don’t waterlog the soil or the tree will drown. Only M. virginiana can take constantly wet soil.
     
  •  Fertilizing: Treat chlorosis with iron chelates. Feed trees if new growth is scanty or weak, or if you see significant dieback despite adequate watering and drainage. Use a controlled-release product; magnolias are very susceptible to salt damage from overfertilizing, resulting in burned leaf edges.
     
  • Pruning: For deciduous magnolias, best time is after bloom; for evergreen kinds, do the job before the spring growth flush. Best method is to remove the entire twig or limb right to its base. Cuts on deciduous kinds are often slow to heal, so prune these only when necessary to correct plant’s shape, eliminate or cut back wayward branches, or remove lower limbs from trunk as tree gains height.