Magnolia – How To Encourage New Growth From Trunk?

Q: My twenty-year old magnolia suddenly died over the winter; it was totally brown. Just recently it has sprouted new growth from the trunk. What should I do to encourage it? 

A: Nature sometimes finds a way back from the edge of death! It’s possible that last year’s drought plus the March freeze killed many leaves on your tree. Magnolias have dormant buds underneath the bark so, with the limbs gone, the tree activated the buds to grow new leaves. There is no way to predict whether the tree will be able to produce enough leaves in time to reestablish its health. If there is no reason to cut the tree down, I would simply leave it alone and see what happens. Do not fertilize; this would stress the weakened tree.