Don’s Expert Answers: Magnolia tree looking 1/2 dead. .leaves dropping off, flower buds not blooming/ dropping off

Question From:
Sharon in Moe, Gippsland Victoria

Nature of problem:
Magnolia tree looking 1/2 dead. .leaves dropping off, flower buds not blooming/ dropping off

Type of Plant (if known):
Magnolia “Little Gem”

Symptoms of Plant Illness (please try NOT to diagnose your problems yourself):
fairly young tree aprox 2yrs planted in sunny position, started to grow last year. .than slowly the tree is droppin flower buds, leaves and limbs are looking dry and brown

Soil Type (e.g. sandy, clay or loam) OR Potting Mix Type:
clay soil, potting mix added when planted ( on a steep hill which has been landscaped) well drained with Natives planted near by

How often do you water the plant:
every 1 to2 days in summer, never in winter as we are in a high rain area

How many hours of sunlight does the plant get each day:
full sun – but a high wind area

How long since you planted it:
roughly 2 yrs ago

Have you fertilised? If so, with what and when:
seawead furtiliser when first planted – nil in 12 mths

Is the plant indoors or outdoors:
outdoors, full sun, well drained , high winds

Is the plant in a pot or in the ground:
outdoors on the edge of a retaining wall heavy clay soil

What other treatments have you given the plant:
Nil at this time

Upload photo if available:

Other Comments:
Wondering if a heavy prune and a treatment of Seasol would help

Hi Sharon, I am virtually certain that lack of water is the problem. During Summer, I am confident your watering just ran off. You need to create a well around the base of the plant about 1m in diameter, about 5-7cm high, higher on the lower side. This will hold water when you water it. Then put a soil wetting agent in the area such as Saturaid. Recovery will be very slow since most of the roots have been killed off. Pruning is a little premature since some of the branches might still be alive. In any case pruning doesn’t help the plant: it just makes you feel better. Don