What disease is this?

Tweaking the mod’s nose because I’m asking about a tree, not a human. At the outset, I will admit that I don’t know much about magnolias. I’m hoping y’all might know something before I resort to an expert opinion.

I think the tree in my yard is sick, or at least stressed. It is losing a lot of leaves, and is turning very pale. There are a lot of buds, but only a few have opened up into flowers. The leaves down under and in the shade are as deep green as I would expect, but those towards the top and in the sun are the ones getting pale and falling.

It’s been sufficiently wet in my inexpert opinion; I’ve only watered my garden when I planted it, and it’s sporting a wonderful crop of weeds now. I don’t see any bugs or bigger critters in the magnolia, nor anything like fungus or rot. No physical damage, either, such as lightning or vehicle strikes. The tree is just turning brown and shedding leaves.

Does it need fertilizer, more water, something else?
Picture 1 - distant shot

Picture 2 - closeup of a typical branch

Not enough information. Is it a smooth bark Gulf Coast magnolia? Probably not because most of them were done blooming over a month ago. Rough bark mid-Atlantic magnolia? Not really sure. Saw a few when I lived in Maryland and was shocked that magnolias could survive snow.

Like many “evergreen” trees, magnolias shed their leaves every year, they just do it over a longer period of time such that we don’t notice. Local smooth bark magnolias usually drop leaves from late February to May first. They usually bloom in late March.

You may just be experiencing a bad year or a normal Spring cycle at a faster pace. You should remember that magnolias are one of the few large trees that survived the KT extinction.

Not enough info for me. Aside from a few yellowing leaves the tree (Magnolia grandiflora, from the looks of it) appears healthy in those photos.

Where are you located? Is there a drought or runoff problem resulting in soggy soil? Unusual weather?

I saw an interesting item in a Texas A&M article about M. grandiflora by William Welch. No idea if it’s applicable to your situation.

“Oftentimes in more alkaline areas magnolias will do well for a number of years until roots reach the compacted substrate soil, then decline. They do best in full sun. When situated in partial shade there will be fewer blooms. My experience is that magnolias should be planted only in areas that have deep soils that are acid and are, at least, neutral in pH. Numerous problems occur when attempts are made to grow them in other areas.”

I think your tree just wants some acid. Magnolias are acid-loving plants like azaleas and rhododendrons. Miracle Gro makes a fertilizer for acid-loving plants that you can pick up at any garden center. (Follow the label directions.)

What kind of fertilizer have you been feeding it? Have you tested the soil ph?

Location is St. Mary’s County, Md.

I do not know history of the tree, I rent the house. Nor have I fertilized it so far.

It may just be older leaves falling off, as Rampant Coypu noted. We just planted a twelve footer that might have dried out a little in the nursery. A few days after planting, it started shedding inside leaves and now it looks like it’s settling in.

Judging from your picture, I don’t really see a problem.

Magnolias like acid and iron. They grow well in soil that long-leaf, short-leaf and loblolly pines like – well drained and sandy loam.

Do you know the variety? Some adapt well to clay soils if they are not waterlogged.