Why have the magnolia, pine and dogwood trees died on my property?
I planted a butterfly magnolia tree a couple years ago. Last year it had one flower at the beginning of the season. This year it doesn’t have anything and I noticed it has three splits in its trunk. I put fertilizer around it this year but just a day ago. It seems nothing grows well on my property, all the pine trees are dead and my dogwood died. I don’t know what to do.
Liz Stanley, Horticulture Community Education Assistant
Magnolia ‘Butterflies’: Here’s cultural information from the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Most magnolias are on the edge of hardiness here in Maine. This impacts blooming since the buds can freeze in the late winter/spring. They also have very thin bark, which cracks when exposed to sun, desiccating wind, or freeze and thaw cycles. Fertilizer can cause a flush of new growth, splitting the bark. Fertilizer can also damage roots (they’re salts), attract scale insects, and if used late in the season, can keep the plant from hardening off before winter. If planted well and watered during drought, most trees and shrubs don’t need to be fertilized.
More in this fact sheet: Selecting, Planting and Caring for Trees & Shrubs in the Maine Landscape.