Propagating a Magnolia Tree
With a little luck and a lot of patience, you can successfully propagate a magnolia tree to grow a second tree in your yard. You can propagate a magnolia by seed, by grafting or by cuttings taken in the spring. However, established magnolia roots don't like to be disturbed, so it may be best to leave rooting from cuttings and grafting to horticulturists. Read on to learn how to propagate a magnolia tree from seed.
Seeds vs. Cuttings
Among the propagation types, cuttings are preferred to seedlings. Plants grown from cuttings will bloom 1 to 2 years after propagation, while seedlings may take 15 to 20 years (or longer, depending on species) to bear the first flowers.
Propagating from Seed
Collect magnolia seeds as soon as possible after the fruit matures in mid-September or early October. Allow the cone-like fruit is cone-like to dry in the sun until the outer coat of orange or red turns dull and begins to split. Once dried, shake the seeds from the cone.
Next, whether sowing right away or storing the seed, soak the seeds overnight in warm water. Rub seeds against a piece of window screening to remove oil from the fleshy outer parts. Without removing the oil, the seeds won't propagate.
To store mangolia seeds, place them in layers in a plastic bag filled with moist peat. Tie off the bag and refrigerate at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
To sow, cover with ¼-inch of soil (2 parts peat, 1 part loam and 1 part sand) and then mulch to prevent drying out. Keep the soil moist until seeds germinate. Transfer magnolia tree seedlings into individual pots after about a month. Keep the seedlings in partial shade for the first summer.
A Quick Solution: Container-Grown Magnolia Trees
If the idea of waiting 15 years for your propagated magnolia to bloom is just not acceptable, why not buy one already grown? Either container-grown or balled and burlapped magnolia trees will reward with flowers in much less time. Keep in mind that each species of magnolia tree species takes a different amount of time to mature and bloom.
As a hobby or just for fun, try propagating some from seed as an experiment. Some home gardeners have been able to get blooms from certain species within 10 years or so.