Help - bark splitting Little Gem Magnolia + Redbud
Hoping for some input from the tree gurus here about what could be going on with my Little Gem and my Forest Pansy Redbud because I'd hate to lose either one.
The magnolia, approximately 6 1/2 ft tall, has been planted for just over a year. It's always been a bit sparse but healthy looking overall. About 8 weeks ago, I randomly noticed two areas where the bark appears to be splitting open -- one near the top 1/4 of the central leader and a second, on a thinner side branch. The tree is planted as a focal point in the middle of an eastern facing bed in my backyard and gets full sun (fairly intense 8b/9a sun) from 9 am to 3:00 or so. It's hot and humid here in coastal Mississippi and these "splits" are on the sun facing side. I was freaked out when I first noticed them but the tree is putting out new growth and has flowered a little. Earlier in the summer, I lost several clumps of new leaves -- they'd suddenly brown out and droop and die -- but that's been happening less now. And the leaf issue was not on the affected limbs.I am very conservative w/fertilizer and only applied Plant Tone in the spring followed by two applications of half strength 10-10-10 liquid this year so I wouldn't think the leaf issue was fertilizer but I could certainly be wrong.
The Forest Pansy redbud was planted in June. It gets part sun and is somewhat sheltered by my neighbor's huge live oak and an old pecan tree. It's a lovely tree but a little top heavy at 8.5 feet tall and is currently staked. It looks fine but hasn't had any significant growth (above ground, that is... hopefully the roots are doing their thing). This morning though, I just happened to notice one of the redbud branches has the same kind of "splitting" action going on -- looks identical to the ones on the magnolia -- but that branch is not getting blasted by direct sun.
I am thoroughly mystified (as is my yard man) and more than a little worried. There are no sprinklers in my yard and these lesions are high up -- so they're not weed trimmer damage.
I've yet to master how to post more than one photo at a time so will add some in subsequent posts. This first picture is the redbud limb. Bad angle but the branch is significantly over my head and hard to photograph.
Any ideas? Is this serious?? Thanks in advance...