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Saucer Magnolia

(January 2012)

QuestionOur newest addition to our yard is a 3' tall Saucer Magnolia. It is growing in full sun, no shade, and I planted it in late October. I noticed yesterday that it just started budding fresh blooms on almost every branch. Is this common to bloom this late in the season and in its first year? As a general tree question, when is too early to prune a young tree?

AnswerThe buds of all spring blooming magnolias are quite visible in late summer, but hopefully they aren’t blooming. If you do have flowers, they probably didn’t last long with the cold temperatures. Spring blooming saucer or tulip magnolias (Magnolia soulangiana) set their flower buds in August or early September. These buds typically open in early spring. Newer varieties tend to open a bit later than the original saucer magnolias, but all can be susceptible to a late frost. We had a number of spring blooming plants with a few blooms this fall due to our eratic weather, but hopefully you will have more in the spring. As to when to prune a tree, age really isn’t a factor. Knowing what the expected outcomes are and solving problems when you find them should happen at any age.

(August 2010)

QuestionI was inspecting a house in Eureka Springs this week and saw this cluster on a tree that I never noticed before. I was told it was a magnolia tree, but it didn't have the glossy leaves. I couldn’t find it in my tree book. What are your thoughts?

AnswerI think it is a slightly deformed seed pod on a Magnolia soulangiana--the tulip or saucer magnolia. It should have light pink to purple flowers in the spring before the foliage. This magnolia is deciduous, losing its leaves every fall, thus it doesn’t have the thick, glossy leaves of the evergreen Magnolia grandiflora.

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