Is there any help for my winter effected southern magnolia?

Asked June 23, 2018, 1:05 AM EDT

The midApril snow storm has left 3/4 of my magnolia with dry brown leaves with no new growth of leaves. I hoped by now it would start to recover. I have cleaned up all the fallen leaves today, soaked the ground with a soaker hose, but am wondering if an application of nitrogen or dry manure will stimulate green leaf growth. The tree was a sapling brought from Virginia to Philly in 2001. This same thing occurred in 2008 so I had it cut down. It regrew unexpectedly from the trunk and finally bloomed last year. My crape myrtle also got hit and has no growth on the branches but suckers from the ground, which I cut off but have returned. Is it a lost cause? It is totally bare.

Philadelphia County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Tree experts don't recommend fertilizing a tree that's in trouble. You can take small cuttings from different areas and see if the green layer under the bark is still intact. When the cambium dies, the branch is dead. If the cambium is still green, you can call a licensed arborist from your area and have the tree examined. You can find one on the website of the International Society of Arboriculture. here is a link to their zip code locator on their website.

Suckering on the Crape Myrtle is a stress reaction because it can't get food from it's existing top growth.Again, you need to see if the cambium is still green. Then cut back all the dead wood above the area where the cambium is green. Prune out all the dead wood and allow the suckers to grow so the crape myrtle can make food for itself. In early autumn, prune out the excess growth so you have a good looking shrub. I would consider winter protection for the crape myrtle going forward. You can surround it with a chicken wire enclosure and fill the area with dry leaves to insulate the shrub.