Don't rule magnolia out yet


May 12, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement | Ellen Nibali and David Clement,Special to The Sun

The top of my magnolia looks dead. Is there anything I can do?

Hollies and evergreen magnolias got hammered this winter by temperatures that seesawed from abnormally warm to very cold. This caused winterburn, especially at the top of trees. Now is when leaves normally brown and drop, too. Give your tree more time to put out top foliage. Even if it suffered dieback, magnolias are remarkably resilient; they can regrow from their roots when the entire top dies.

Burlap is sticking out of the ground under my maples. We planted them 20 years ago, so how can that be?

Your burlap may be artificial. Test by holding a lighted match to it. If it melts, it's plastic and eventually will stunt and kill your trees. Even real burlap may not decompose for decades and can damage plants. For that reason, at planting time any burlap should be removed, cut away or pushed down flat in the planting hole.


Mowing too low is a major cause of poor lawns. Set your mowing height up to 4 inches for tall fescue to shade out weed seedlings.

Mature trees do not need to be mulched except to keep mowers and string trimmers away from the trunk.

Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at

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