Don’s Expert Answers: Magnolia teddy bear not growing sparse leaves

Question From:
in Riverhills, Riverhills Queensland

Nature of problem:
Magnolia teddy bear not growing sparse leaves

Type of Plant (if known):
Magnolia Teddy Bear

Symptoms of Plant Illness (please try NOT to diagnose your problems yourself):
Not growing, leaves Browning and very sparse

Soil Type (e.g. sandy, clay or loam) OR Potting Mix Type:
Porting mix type

How often do you water the plant:
Once a week

How many hours of sunlight does the plant get each day:
6-8 hours

How long since you planted it:
2 years

Have you fertilised? If so, with what and when:
Slow release fertilizer once every 6 months

Is the plant indoors or outdoors:

Is the plant in a pot or in the ground:

What other treatments have you given the plant:
Tried replanting by opening up roots

Upload photo if available:

Other Comments:
Hi Don,

We’ve planted three magnolia teaddy bears in our backyard two years ago. One of them seems to be growing. The second one grew a bit and them stopped completely and the third hasnt grown at all. We do get occassional flowers from all three. But the leaves are really sparse and they do brown quite a bit. Is there anything we can do to encourage growth of both the plants and leaves? Can they also take the afternoon sun? I am located in Brisbane, Queensland.


Hi Anna, Water is the answer. Your potting mix has become water-repelling during the drought. Get some Seasol Super Soil Wetter and mix it with water and apply it. Before you do, plunge your garden fork into the soil about 20cm deep all around the root area. Do NOT turn the soil over, just put holes into it for the Seasol SSW to get in. Immediately water the Seasol SSW in really with the hose. Also water it with the hose on full bore (and a soft nozzle) for 5-10 minutes for 5 days, then twice a week after that. Recovery will not occur until late October-November. Don