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? on Southern Magnolia Pruning and Brackens Beauty

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by GarPA, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    Need some points of view. I have a Southern Magnolia at my home that is getting too tall ...approaching the 2nd story. And the rough weather this winter really browned out far more leaves than in past years. It is now pushing new growth just fine.
    Your opinnion on topping it and doing some interior pruning now?
    These are rare in the Northeast so the guys I ask here dont really have an opinnion. Also I just bought a Brackens Beauty yesterday....looks and acts like a S. Mag but is hardy to zone 4. Ever plant one of these and if so how its it doing? thanks much
  2. SJH Landscaping

    SJH Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    I would just prune for structure by: removing the dead limbs, the limbs that cross each other, the limbs that grow in towards the center of the tree and not away from it, and never remove more than 1/3 of the trees foliage. Use may want to consider a deep root fertilizer to restore the trees health and vigor.

    DO NOT top the tree, studies show that a topped tree will grow taller than a properly pruned tree, a few years down the road.
  3. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    Good point about topping....just like wherever we prune anything we get new growth dont we....I should have known better than to ask such a stupid question....thanks for your advice
  4. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    A topped tree will not grow taller if topped routinely. The studies must refer to only certain situations.

    Look up Pollarding - you will see what I mean if you find photos on the internet.

    That's pruning to the same height or framework every year. The tree does not get taller ( the suckers may be a foot taller the first year of this, but that's about it )

    Personally, I despise this pruning. But its fair game if the people want to keep the same tree, not block a view, and are willing to prune it in detail. It almost becomes a very large bonsai, only not in a pot, nor as meticulously trained.

    Reducing long growth limbs to a shorter length may be good for that tree. Its like a topping with precision of limbs that are more upright, but noticeably too long. This would be reasonable if you get ice or snow, since that tree is weak. Its possible for the bark tearing from the limb breakage in snow to far exceed damage from topping.

    But overall, regular thinning and directing of natural upright growth is a great way to go.

    One issue about topping - the tips have quite an abundance of Auxin - a hormone - that hinders sprouting of lower buds and shoots. That, for example, is why Apple trees shoot sprouts like a maniac when they are topped.

    One cut gets you 3,4,6,8 sprouts. 10 cuts gets you 40 sprouts. The next year the 40 sprouts cut can get you 100, 200 sprouts.

    That's why many short topped trees get sheared. The handclipping becomes so excessive, that the homeowner can't afford the skilled hourly pruner, and the skilled pruner may not lower their price, or may not want to even do that kind of pruning anymore.

    M. D. Vaden of Oregon - www.mdvaden.com
    Feel free to browse our tree advice pages.
  5. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,967

    Those magnolias can get out of hand over time. One of my customers had one grow into a power line and they(Asplundh)? "scooped" it last year. She hired someone to shape it and it looks better than ever this year. It looked like it was gonna die early on but has since recovered nicely.
  6. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    That's quite a term - never heard it before:

    "Scooped it"

    Not bad - I'll have to keep that in my vocabulary.

    That has to be in reference to hollowing one side of the canopy to make the tree resemble an ice cream scoop.
  7. lugnut#6

    lugnut#6 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 404

    i have about a dozen mags here on at my home in mississippi.
    im not a tree surgen but i routenly trim mine with no problem.
    people down here do some extreme topping of mags with no ill effects thats ive seen.its a soft wood and hurricanes snap em like tooth picks.i see em on the side of the road, top missing from storms in the past,and they look like they recover real well.ive even umbrellaed mine up some 40' of the 60'hieght.they are doing fine untill the next storm.i have to many anyway and since i cant remove them(state tree and flower)i figure ill set it up so mother nature does the dirty work.
  8. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,967

    It really looks like they took a scoop out of it. They cut enough to clear the power lines and it looks terrible when they're done.

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