Garden lore

“Woman has no seductions for the man who cannot keep his eyes off the magnolias.”

Anonymous, from Up the Garden Path by Laura Stoddart.

Magnolias and lawn spray do not mix. This one is Sprengeri diva

Magnolias and lawn spray do not mix. This one is Sprengeri diva

Magnolia problems
If you insist on spraying your lawns, and many do, then get onto it straight away. Many of the common lawn sprays are hormone-based. If you delay any longer, you risk causing severe damage to deciduous plants just breaking dormancy. It doesn’t matter how careful you are – spray drifts invisibly and the slightest whiff can damage other plants at critical times. Kiwifruit are particularly sensitive and so are magnolias.

There are two common questions about deciduous magnolias we are asked repeatedly, year in and year out. The first is related to malformed leaves, or sometimes defoliation on one side of the tree. Almost invariably, we find the enquirer has sprayed their lawn for moss and flat weeds. Of course, magnolias are often used as lawn specimens. So if you must spray, get it on as soon as there is a fine, calm day. It should not affect your magnolia at this time of winter. If you leave it until spring is advanced, there will be damage and it can be severe and unsightly.

The second common question is about completely malformed flowers on magnolias. Possum damage. You just need one critter who develops a taste for them and it can take out pretty much an entire season of blooms. It nibbles in from the top to eat the bud so you can’t spot the damage from below.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.