Why Are My Magnolia Leaves Turning Brown?

As a gardener, it can be upsetting to see your plants or flowers wilting and turning brown. This is especially the case for Magnolia trees, which are often used as ornamental plants in gardens.

They’re beautiful during their blooming season but if they start to turn brown on their leaves, what’s wrong?

In this guide, I will cover the reasons why magnolia leaves turn brown, as well as what you can do to prevent this from happening.

Why Are My Magnolia Leaves Turning Brown?

Overwatering and leaf burning are the most likely reasons for your magnolia to turn brown. The brown leaves from overwatering are moist, whereas burnt leaves are dry and crispy. There’s also a chance that pests are attacking the plant and causing the leaves to brown from shock.

I will now explain why each of these things happens and how to prevent it. By the end, you will know how to keep your magnolias healthy and green.

1. Browning Magnolia Leaves from Overwatering

The first cause of browning magnolia leaves from overwatering is when the roots of the plant are suffocated. This happens when there’s too much water in the pot and it can’t circulate properly through the soil.

To fix this, make sure the water can easily drain away from the shrug, which can be done by using soil that drains well.

I recommend only watering your magnolia when the soil is dry to the touch. Simply dip your finger in the soil up to your knuckle. If it’s moist, then you don’t need to water it yet.

You could also use a moisture meter, which allows you to see how wet the soil is without getting your hands dirty.

For young magnolia shrugs, it is usually best to add water once per week. Established magnolia trees can be watered less frequently, like every 2-3 weeks.

The biggest danger of overwatering is root rot. Any plant with rotten roots needs to be treated immediately by pruning the affected roots and discarding them. Next, the plant should be repotted into fresh soil that drains well.

2. Browning Magnolia Leaves from Leaf Burn

Leaf burn happens when the magnolia is exposed to too much sun. This causes the leaves to be dry and crispy.

Many plant owners think that the more sun their plants get, the healthier they will be, but this isn’t the case. The magnolia simply can’t handle that much direct sun in one day!

In fact, magnolia is a plant that prefers shade or partial sun. So, in order to prevent leaf burn from happening, make sure the leaves are protected from direct sunlight for more than half of the day.

In addition, you can add some mulch around your tree so it will have an extra layer of protection when it comes to water loss.

Prevent this from happening by planting your magnolia in a partially shady spot that gets at least five hours of sun per day. If you’re already experiencing leaf burn, then try moving the plant further away from any area where it receives direct sunlight.

If the plant is seriously burnt, then you can try to salvage it by pruning the burnt leaves and branches. After doing this, give the plant a good watering and leave it in an area of shade to cover.

3. Brown Leaves from Pests (Aphids, Mealybugs, and Scale)

Although this isn’t the most common for brown leaves, it is worth mentioning because it does happen from time to time.

The most common pests that can cause your magnolia leaves to turn brown are aphids, mealybugs, and scales. These insects suck the sap out of the plant which causes it to become dry and wilted.

I recommend using an insecticide spray for these bugs with a hose attachment that you can find at local garden centers or hardware stores. My favorite type of insecticide is Neem oil, which is a natural oil made from the neem tree.

To use neem oil, simply mix it with water and then pour it into a spray bottle. Be sure to shake the mixture well before each use. Then, just spray the plant leaves until they are coated and the pests should start dying off within a day or two. You may need to reapply every few days to keep the pests away.

Browning Magnolia Leaves FAQs

Magnolias are fascinating plants, but they aren’t the easiest to care for. I will now cover some of the questions I get asked about the leaves on magnolias.

Will brown magnolia leaves turn green again?

No, it is impossible for burnt leaves to turn green again. However, the plant should still survive if you are careful about caring for it. Also, new foliage will be green if you can provide the plant with adequate conditions for growth.

Should I remove brown leaves from my magnolia?

Yes, use sterilized shears to prune all of the burnt leaves. This will encourage new foliage and keep your magnolia looking healthy.

Will too much water cause my magnolia to turn brown?

Yes, it is advisable to only water when the soil is dry. This prevents roots from suffocating and becoming too wet, which leads to root rot and brown leaves on your magnolia.

Will pests on my magnolia cause the leaves to brown?

Yes, pests like aphids, mealybugs, and scales can cause your magnolia leaves to turn brown. Try using insecticide spray if you see these pests on your plant.

Will direct sun cause my magnolia leaves to turn brown?

Yes, it is possible that direct sun will cause your magnolia to dry out and turn brown. You can prevent this by making sure the area receives enough shade to recover from the sun’s rays.


In conclusion, there are several reasons for browning magnolia leaves. You can prevent these by knowing what causes them and following my advice above!

It’s important to remember that magnolias are sensitive plants, but they’re worth the extra care. They will reward you with beautiful flowers in spring and summer!

Thank you for reading my blog post about why are magnolia leaves turning brown. If this helped, please feel free to share it on social media or leave a comment below.

Leave a Comment