Magnolia – Leaves Stripped by Hurricane

Q: I have a magnolia tree in Florida that was damaged by Hurricane Michael. The top of the tree is broken as well as most of the side branches. It has begun to put out a few small leaves. Will the tree come back with time or do I need to have it cut?

A: Wow! From the pile of debris around the trunk I can see a lot of damage occurred. Fortunately, the trunk and root system seem intact to me. My bet is that the tree will recover slowly but surely. I think it would be best to leave it alone at this point, other than removing cracked and broken branches. We want as many leaves as possible to sprout and start powering the recovery process.

Next winter, examine the tree and look for weak limbs or those with no leaves. They can be removed. If more foliage grows on one side of the tree than the other, you can shorten some of the leafy limbs to encourage more greenery on the other side.

I would fertilize once each year in early April using a slow release fertilizer like Milorganite or Holly-Tone.