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

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Dzitmoidonc(6)

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
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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???

ken

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:31PM
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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
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calliope(6)

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
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Kathy972

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
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Kathy972

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
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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
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