How to Revive a Dying Magnolia Tree: Can You Still Save It?

Got a green thumb and want to begin gardening, or have already begun planting and caring for a Magnolia tree? That’s awesome, considering that Magnolia trees are beautiful and majestic-looking, especially with their large and fragrant white blossoms.

However, you may come across a few problems, and one of the bigger ones is its demise. If you see some signs of it dying, of course, you would want to revive and save it to continue growing and looking amazing! But how can you do so?

Read on to see how to revive a dying Magnolia tree and if it’s possible to do so for your case!

how to revive a dying magnolia tree

How to Revive a Dying Magnolia Tree

The Southern magnolia, or the Magnolia grandiflora, is a perennial plant in the US, which is a hardy one that doesn’t stand much risk of pests or diseases. That’s why it’s so easy to care for and maintain, though there are still chances of it dying due to various reasons. These are the following reasons why, and what you can do to solve it:

1. Verticillium Wilt

This is a disease that would cause branches to die one by one, eventually killing magnolia trees. If you think that verticillium wilt is causing your magnolia tree to die, then you can first diagnose it by cutting off part of an affected branch (the width of your finger). Check for any vascular discoloration, or if your branch looks red or brown.

To remedy and prevent the spread of the wilt, prune out all the affected branches under the site of infection. When you prune, make sure to disinfect your shears between cuts, which will avoid spreading the disease. You can disinfect your shears by soaking them for five minutes, using a solution of one part 70% isopropyl alcohol and one part of water, drying the shears after you soak and before cutting.

2. Canker Diseases

Cankers would create dead and sunken patches on tree branches, which would cause the tree’s leaves to turn yellow or brown, then wilting away. Eventually, the tree branches and the tree would die.

You will know if ever there are cankers on your magnolia tree when you prune out a branch that’s below the site of disease. Make sure you use disinfected pruners to check.

But once you have cankers that seriously infect the tree trunk, you aren’t able to save the dying Magnolia tree. Furthermore, you will need to avoid planting any magnolias in the same spot anymore.

3. Root Rot

Root rot is caused by various soil pathogens. When it comes to magnolia trees, there are certain Phytophthora species to blame, including the cinnamomi, parasitics, cirtricola, cactorum, and the cryptogea.

One of the main causes is overwatering your tree, especially during warmer weather, as this causes pathogens to flourish and grow, invading the plant roots. As a result, plant roots are invaded, the leaves wilt, and branches die.

To avoid this from happening, do not overwater your magnolia tree and let your soil dry out between any irrigations. Furthermore, clean up all debris that falls around the tree base, as this also encourages pathogen growth.

4. Leaf Scorch

Magnolias are susceptible to the winter leaf scorch, which can also occur in warmer climates. While they don’t usually kill branches, it can burn your magnolia tree leaves, resulting in defoliation on the tree, whether one side or all over.

Winter lead scorch is more susceptible to magnolias that haven’t been protected by the drying winter winds, which would deplete the leaves of water quicker than when drawing it from the ground. This is especially true when living in an area where your grounds usually freeze over.

That’s why it’s best to plant your trees in areas where you can protect the trees. While drought-tolerant and can survive hot summers, they need moist soils and shouldn’t be exposed to freezing temperatures.

5. If There Is No Hope

You can inspect the tree further to see if there is still hope to revive it. Check its leaves first. Do you see leaves, if any at all? And if so, do they appear healthy or look stunted in a way?

If you see branches with leaves with some dying, then there is a disease. Examine its buds to see how they died, and if they are brown all throughout, they have been dead for a long time. You can also try to check out the cambium layer, below the bark’s outer layer, to check if it’s green, brown, or dead.

If you see branches with mostly green cambiums, you are able to revive it, and simply wait for a few months while properly caring for your magnolia tree. But if you see widespread cambium death, then there is no way to revive the tree anymore.

When you do choose to replace it, identify any changes that have been made around the area in terms of its growing conditions. This can help you figure out how to care for your next magnolia tree better. Also, when replacing it with a new tree, match the growing conditions to the tree’s requirements, and to ensure that the same thing won’t happen to the new tree.

Do you want to learn more about how to care for a Magnolia tree? This informative video can show you how:

Wrapping It Up

When you’ve tended your Magnolia tree for so long, of course, you would want it to continue blooming for years to come! While some trees may not be able to survive diseases, there is still a chance to revive dying Magnolia trees, depending on the problem. With proper care, you can also prevent an early demise!

I hope that this article on how to revive a dying Magnolia tree helped you out! Now that you know what to do, start looking into saving your Magnolia tree and caring for it properly to prevent it from dying.

14 thoughts on “How to Revive a Dying Magnolia Tree: Can You Still Save It?”

  1. There are some leaves on some of the branches and other none. We just planted it last year. It looks healthy. Should we give it more time?

  2. Our newly transplanted Magnolia Virginiana has one branch that has new leaf growth on the very top that is wilting. The other two branches with new leaf growth are fine.
    I believe we might have over watered.
    If we back off the watering will it recover?
    I am so worried.

    Thank you in advance.

  3. I have had my magnolia tree for about 10 years. It grew & gained a few blossoms every year. Last spring it blossomed quite well, but it dropped all its leaves early in the fall except for 2 young branches growing from the base of the trunk. This spring, only those 2 branches have a few buds growing. The rest of the tree branches do not have buds. It tried, but the fuzzy buds were tiny, brown & didn’t last. They disintegrated easily. I will try shaving some bark off the leaves to see if the branches are green inside, but the branches are pretty dry.
    It is planted in a flower bed next to my asphalt driveway, and I usually water my garden everyday in summer & leave a leaf cover over the winter which I didn’t realize I shouldn’t do. I love my magnolia, but it seems like it is dying. Can I still save it? Do you think it’s route rot?

  4. My Stellata had flowers,some opened then the late frost turned them brown,now has little furry leaf buds which are all brown and empty.Although have a couple of new shoots at base will i be able to save it??

  5. My magnolia tree was looking sparse during the winter not many leaves. I put this off on Hurricane Ida blowing them off. I had a few blooms in the spring & thought my leaves would come back. It did the opposite I have no leaves on tree. At the bottom I do have those sprouts that come from root. My husband wants to cut it down. I have no clue this is one of those small magnolia and it’s about 20yrs old. Is there anything I can do to save it. I did put an old Jobe spike last year down. Would old fertilizer have anything to do with its situation?? Or do you think it might not be getting enough water ?? I really don’t want to cut my little tree down. Help please

  6. My two very large and kind of old magnolias have leaves which look stressed. (They are at least 63 years old. ) At the same time, the trees are putting on buds like crazy. I’ve had people tell me it’s natural but I’m not so sure. Any ideas?

  7. We have a very large old native magnolia. A tree guy said it’s hollow and should be cut down. He said the signs are holes at the end of some of the branches. How can we be sure it’s ready to be taken down? Thanks.

    • Hi Brunetta,

      If you have concerns about the health of your magnolia tree, it may be a good idea to get a second opinion from a certified arborist. They can assess the tree’s condition and provide you with expert advice on how to proceed.

      In the meantime, here are some signs to look out for that may indicate that a tree is in decline or ready to be removed:

      – Holes in the trunk or branches: Holes can be a sign of decay, which can weaken the tree’s structure and make it more prone to falling.

      – Large cracks or splits in the trunk: These can also indicate that the tree is structurally compromised.

      – Leaning: If the tree is leaning significantly, it may be at risk of falling.

      – Dead or dying branches: If the tree has a lot of dead or dying branches, it may be a sign that it is in decline.

      – Fungus or mushrooms growing on or around the tree: Fungi can indicate decay or disease in the tree.

      If your magnolia tree exhibits one or more of these signs, it may be time to consider having it removed. A certified arborist can help you make an informed decision about the best course of action for your tree.

      Good luck

  8. My 20-year-old star magnolia did not bloom and is not leafing out.
    I dont see ant signs of disease.. It has very small terminal green buds that do not grow.

    • Hi Johanna,

      I’m sorry to hear about the troubles with your star magnolia. Several factors could contribute to its lack of blooming and leafing out. Let’s explore some possible reasons: weather conditions, environmental stress, nutrient deficiencie, pruning issues,
      pests or diseases.

      Given the information you provided, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. If the tree doesn’t show signs of recovery soon, it may be helpful to consult with a local arborist or horticulturist who can assess the situation in person and provide tailored advice based on your specific location and tree’s condition.

      Good luck!


Leave a Comment