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Tulip Magnolia

November 11, 2017


I have a tulip magnolia tree that has a dozen or more blooms on it.   I don’t remember it blooming and putting out new leaves last fall.  Is that normal?  I sure don’t remember this tree blooming until early spring. 



We have had some very unusual weather.  I would not be surprised to see other errant blooms coming on some spring blooming plants.  We were so hot and dry in September and early October, that some plants shut down early.  Then we got some rain, cold weather and then it appeared to be spring again.  The plants are confused.  A few of the blooms will open, but hopefully just a few, and you will have a normal display next spring.


March 4, 2017


I have two fairly large tulip trees in my yard and they were so pretty early this year but the blooms did not last long at all.  I don’t think the cold got them, but what do you think happened and how can I extend their flowering next year?



You are not alone.  Many tulip magnolia trees bloomed two-three weeks ahead of schedule this year, and that coupled with temperatures nearing 80 for several days in a row, had their bloom schedule on warp speed. It seemed they were here today and gone tomorrow.  I also think the heavy rains and wind following the warm spell hastened their bloom shed.  There are some later blooming varieties with a deeper purple color which bloom two weeks later than the original tulip magnolia and they still have blooms on them.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about the weather to keep them blooming longer.


May 21, 2016

QuestionI have a Japanese tulip tree.  It is several years old and I have two bushes from the root and have cut all the other shoots off.  Would it be better to cut the smaller shoot off and let the larger shoot grow stronger?


AnswerIt depends how far away the two shoots are. Many tulip magnolia trees have multiple trunks, but you need to make sure they are far enough apart that they won’t rub against each other and cause permanent damage. If you prefer a singled trunk tree, then keep the sprouts pruned out, as new ones will appear annually.


(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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