sweetbay magnolia pruning

Kathy972March 24, 2013

I have a sweetbay magnolia planted August 2011 that looks like it has a poodle cut. The branches that go through the middle section have no leaves except on the end of the branches. There does appear to be leaf "nodes" but they never came out last year. (The leaves in the center section fell off soon after being planted.) If I prune the ends of the branches, will that encourage the leaves to come out? I was hoping this would correct itself, but am tired of looking at a poodle! TIA

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you mean M. virginiana, no amount of pruning will make it bushy. Some Magnolias are just naturally leggy, like M.tripetala. When they are small, they can be somewhat bushy, but after 10 years they assume their normal shape. Maybe somebody with more experience can chime in, but my somewhat limited experience with them is that they are leggy.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 5:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

so what dzit tried to say.. you need to ID it first ..

and then decide if the plant can or will have the look you wish ...

to do so .. you would need a pic of the leaf.. the plant.. and the flower ...

and if we cant ID it here.. try the name that plant forum ..

besides.. who can give pruning advice w/o seeing the plant???


    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"...you need to ID it first..."

The ID is given in the first post....Sweetbay magnolia (i.e. Magnolia virginiana). Unless there's some reason to doubt the ID, I don't see why we'd want to question it further.

Yes, pictures would help, but it's highly unlikely that pruning the ends of the branches will be a good solution.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 8:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are ways to address this situation, but what form do you want it to assume? A large shrub, multi or single stemmed tree? You can actually whack that sucker to a few inches from the ground and it'll sprout multiple new branches from the root area. But I suggest you just google training and pruning sweet bay, and some sites will give you the instructions.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 7:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here are pictures. (Had to wait for sunshine!) I was told the tree was a Sweetbay Magnolia and I have no reason to doubt the landscaper.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 5:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The 2nd pictures attempts to show a node on the bare branch. What can I do to encourage these leaves in the middle sections of the branches to leaf out?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 5:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Hi Kathy,

Some plants just need several growing seasons before they really get established and 'fill out'. What is the overall shape you want the plant to be?

Normally sweetbays form an upright oval shape. They eventually lose leaves further down. Some cultivars seem to be more dense than others. Perhaps density could be improved with selective pruning, but the plant needs to be growing well before that can work.

We have one in our backyard that I've trained to one trunk and it's limbed up about 4 feet. I like that look.

Yours look like multiple trunks and more 'shrubby'.

You could try to selective prune a few longer branches and see if if fills in below. But really keep this thing watered this season and hopefully you'll see some improvement in vigor.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 7:57AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
2015 Midatlantic/SE/New England winter damage thread
I don't mean to exclude the midwest but I think for...
davidrt28 (zone 7)
Number 4 thread of Most successful try @ LIve oak in Pa
Okay, this is the newest thread about the Live Oak...
Green-limbed Tree?
What kind of tree is this with the green trunk &...
blakrab Centex
Prunus mume are blooming in the South.
Pictures taken on February 3, 2015 at Wuhan (capital...
Miliusa sinensis
Small tree of interesting flowers.
Sponsored Products
Faux Magnolias - WHITE
$545.00 | Horchow
Burgundy Sword Lilies with 27-inch Bamboo Cylinder Vase
Frontier Prune Purple Rectangular: 5 Ft. x 8 Ft. Rug
$345.60 | Bellacor
Trim Cut Shears
| Dot & Bo
Pruning Set
$39.99 | zulily
Global Views Ivory Magnolia Flower Wall Art - 3.30588
$447.50 | Hayneedle
Modern Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: Kas Rugs Rugs Southern Magnolia Black 3 ft. 3
Home Depot
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Artistic Weavers Rugs Cadaley Prune Purple 2 ft. 6
Home Depot
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™