Magnolia Blooming Problems – Why A Magnolia Tree Does Not Bloom
By: Teo Spengler
Magnolias (Magnolia spp.) are all beautiful trees, but they are not all alike. You can find deciduous magnolias that drop their shiny leaves in autumn, and evergreen species that provide year-round shade. Magnolias can be shrubby, medium tall, or towering. The some 150 species in this tree family are known for – and often grown for – their fragrant, frothy flowers. Plants grown from seed can take a very long time to flower, while cultivars have been developed for rapid blooming.
If your lament is “my magnolia tree does not bloom,” take action to help the tree. Read on for information about magnolia blooming problems and what to do to encourage those beautiful flowers.
Why a Magnolia Tree Doesn’t Flower
Whenever a flowering tree fails to blossom, the first thing to do is to check its hardiness zone. The plant hardiness zone indicates what type of weather your tree will survive.
Checking hardiness zones is even more important with warmth-loving magnolias, an iconic tree of the American South. Each species has its own hardiness zone but most like it warm. For example, southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 9.
A magnolia planted in a too-cold climate may not die, but it is not very likely to flower. The flower buds are more sensitive to cold than any other part of the tree. This may be why you are singing the “my magnolia won’t bloom” blues.
Others Reasons a Magnolia Tree Does Not Bloom
If your magnolia blooming problems are not related to the climate, the next place to look is the planting situation. Magnolias can grow in shade but they bloom best and most generously in full sun.
Soil quality might also have a role in the problem. It is best to use rich, acidic, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, amended with organic material.
A soil test can help explain why a magnolia tree doesn’t flower. Lack of minerals or micronutrients might be your problem. If you offer the tree nitrogen-rich amendments, like alfalfa mulch, the soil may be encouraging vegetative growth at the expense of flowers. Add whatever elements the plant is missing by making holes a foot (30 cm.) deep and 6 inches (15 cm.) apart around the drip line of the tree. Put the nutrients in the holes and water well.
This article was last updated on
Magnolia Tree Won't Bloom - Knowledgebase Question
Some common causes of poor flowering are insufficient sunlight (these trees prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade) and bud damage from spring frosts. Some magnolias in the South even bloom in February, and these are especially susceptible. I don't know what kind of magnolia you have, so I can't say whether this is likely in your case. The Southern Magnolia blooms in late spring or summer, so it's not as easily damaged by the cold.
If your tree is planted near a wall of the house where it gets morning sun, that could trigger the tree to heat up and begin growth prematurely. Thus flower buds are more easily killed by the cold. Magnolias are best planted where they are sheltered from morning sun. Low-lying areas at the base of slopes are likely to be especially cold, so these locations should be avoided. Of course, this is a more common problem in the north, but it's one situation to consider when magnolias fail to flower.
Magnolias like deep, fertile, moist soil with good drainage. Mulch the soil around the base of the tree to help keep the soil moist, and water regularly and deeply during dry spells.
Although the average age of flowering for magnolias is 10 years, some species bloom earlier, such as the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata). This species begins bearing white, fragrant flowers when trees reach 3 feet tall and are hardy to USDA plant hardiness zone 5 through 9. Other species can take many years to bloom, such as "Merrill" (Magnolia × loebneri "Merrill"), which is a fast-growing tree bearing star-shaped flowers for USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 but can take up to 20 years to bloom.
How to Get Your Magnolias to Bloom
There are a few reasons why your magnolias might not be blooming, and a few ways you can help them begin blooming. You should be able to see magnolia blossoms in the later spring months and especially in May.
Most magnolias grow best in climate zones seven through nine, though it can survive in colder climates. However, in the cooler environments, it will be harder for your magnolia bush to bloom, because the flower buds, as the most delicate and tender parts of the plants, will often die out before they bloom.
If this is the case, there isn’t a way to really change your atmosphere, however, you can do things that may still help your magnolias bloom. Make sure that your soil has plenty of nutrients and when you water your magnolia trees, water them with warmer water.
If you have a smaller magnolia bush or tree that is potted, consider moving it indoors throughout the winter. If it is in a warmer climate, it may be able to produce blossoms, however, it is important that your tree or bush gets a lot of sun and water.
Though these tips will not always produce buds, it will make your magnolia bushes’ bud producing chances a little higher.
If you are living in the right climate zones your plant may be a little weaker than others if it isn’t getting the magnolia nutrients that it needs to survive. It could be missing important nutrients or even micronutrients.
To determine if your soil lacks the nutrients needed for your magnolia tree or bush, you can test your soil by calling your local cooperative extension service. They will be happy to test your soil for you and tell you what nutrients are missing or if there are any nutrients that are preventing your magnolias from blooming. For example, soils that are rich in nitrogen will help plants produce more leaves and fewer blooms.
After your soil is tested, you will want to mulch your magnolia plants with a mulch type that will benefit your plants. Ask your cooperative extension service representative what they would suggest you do and follow their instructions accordingly. You may also want to mulch the roots of the plants to make your plants stronger. To do this, you will want to make holes in the ground around your magnolia bush or tree. Make sure that they are deep enough to reach the roots and place the mulch around the roots. Fill your dug up soil around the roots. Building up the strength in the roots will help your plant thrive overall.
Also make sure that your plant is getting the amount of water it needs to survive.
Other Versions of Magnolias
If your magnolia bush or tree still will not produce blooms, you may need to plant stronger and hardier members of the magnolia plant family, such as the “Brachen Brown Beauty.”
Deciduous Magnolias with Saucer Flowers
This group includes the popular saucer magnolia (M. x soulangeana) and its myriad selections, often called tulip trees because of the shape and bright color of their flowers. They prefer fertile, acid, well-drained soil. They do not tolerate heavy wind or salt spray. Early-flowering selections are prone to frost damage. Related to these, but less tolerant of winter cold and summer heat, are the spectacular magnolias from western China and the Himalayas―Sargent magnolia (M. sargentiana) and Sprenger magnolia (M. sprengeri). Though their early flowers may fall victim to late freezes, one spring season with good blooms will quickly make you forget the disappointments of years past.
M. x soulangeana: ‘Alba Superba,' ‘Alexandrina,' ‘Black Tulip,' ‘Brozzonii,' ‘Lennei,' ‘Lilliputian,' ‘Rustica Rubra,' ‘Verbanica'
M. sprengeri: ‘Diva'
Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Kim-A few things can cause your magnolias from blooming, browning of blooms, or flower buds turning brown and not opening.
Sometimes cold temperatures late in the spring can cause damage to flower buds causing them to brown and drop before opening. Many of us had late spring cold nights with enough frost to cause flower buds to die.
Magnolias do not require much fertilization. Feeding with fertilizers high in nitrogen promote foliage growth, but inhibit flower bud developement. Many magnolias planted in lawns and flower beds can receive to much nitrogen fertilization from lawn and plant feeding. Fertilizers with phosphorus and micronutrients and small or no percentage of nitrogen are best. Magnolias that are mulched once or twice a year will not need supplemental fertilizer. A good organic mulch used in the spring and fall will help to keep the soil moist and protect roots from freezing cold and drying of the soil in summer. The organic mulch will also decompose putting nutrients back into the soil.
Soil pH can also promote problems with blooming. Magnolias like acid soil. If your trees foliage looks nice and leaves are not yellowing this most likely isn't a problem. You can find soil test kits or obtain a soils test from many good nurseries or your local Extension Service. This is always nice to have as you will find if there are any deficiencies in the soil and its PH factor.
Insects called Thrips can attack the magnolia flower causing them to brown and not open. You may see brown trails they leave on the buds as they eat their way into the unopened flower buds. This and other insects that can attack the flower buds are difficult to kill as pesticides don't penetrate the flower bud. If you want to use an insecticide, using an insecticidal soap or products containing neem oil work well and are safe to use. Using other insecticides such as Malathion can kill beneficial insects that will help rid the tree of Thrips and last longer in the environment. Always read the label for proper application, but you will probably only need to make one or two applications in a years time.
Too much shade is another reason magnolias will bloom little or not at all. They need full sun in order to bloom their best. If there are others trees or structures shading your tree during the day this could also be the problem of blooming very little.
Extreme temperatures and not enough water can also brown flowers. This is especially true if your tree is young or newly planted. Make sure it has supplimental water if needed during its first few years after planting in the warmer months. It should be kept moist not wet.
Hope this helps to solve the problem.