How one can Develop a Magnolia Tree from Seed in 8 Straightforward Steps

Have you ever seen the swish great thing about magnolia bushes? Their aromatic pink or white blossoms are probably the most pleasant indicators of spring. In summer season, fruits type, every resembling a slender pinecone adorned with attractive vibrant purple berries. In fall, these berries cut up open to disclose a black, flat, bean-like seed, only one per berry. Birds or mice eat them, spreading the seed naturally to a different location.

The seeds lay dormant all winter or are collected by a curious gardener like your self. If luck is on their aspect within the wild, they may germinate within the spring and develop into a gorgeous tree to dwell many many years. We will mimic what occurs in nature by offering magnolia seeds with chilly stratification and sowing them by hand the next spring.

Propagating a brand new magnolia from seed takes a few years, however it may be a really rewarding and low cost solution to propagate this traditional decorative tree. Let’s talk about learn how to do it your self in eight steps

Confirm Tree Is A Commonplace Species, Not A Hybrid 

Close-up of Magnolia branches with rich green leaves and seed pods. The leaves are large, leathery, elliptical, deep green. The seed pods are large, oblong, cylindrical in shape, and contain many bright red seeds. The seeds are small, oval in shape, with a glossy texture.
First, to propagate magnolia bushes from seeds, make sure the tree isn’t a sterile hybrid.

Magnolia seeds are usually not viable as soon as they’ve dried out, so you may’t merely buy them out of your native backyard retailer or favourite seed firm. Taking cuttings and grafting are extra widespread propagation choices. Discovering contemporary seeds is required to start out a brand new tree from seed. 

First, find a tree to reap from and make sure it’s a normal species. That is vital as a result of in case your seeds got here from a hybrid, they gained’t develop the identical tree. Will probably be sterile or unable to supply seeds and will not resemble the father or mother tree. Sadly, it could take a decade or extra to comprehend this unlucky mistake, so it’s finest to research from the beginning.

Harvest Contemporary Berries

Close-up of a human hand harvesting Magnolia seeds from a tree in a sunny garden. The seeds are small, oval, bright red in color with a glossy texture. The seeds are in a cylindrical and elongated brown pod.
Magnolia bushes bear cone-shaped fruits that fill with purple berries in fall.

The cone-shaped fruits magnolia bushes produce are made up of many smaller follicles. Every one is full of purple berries within the fall. You must harvest seeds which are as contemporary as doable, so when you find the fruiting tree, pluck a mature cone from it. Take away the berries from the follicles by gently shaking them. 

Take away the Outer Layer and Clear the Seeds 

Close-up of Magnolia seeds in green pods on a white table. Many seeds have scattered and are lying nearby on the table. The pods are cylindrical and elongated, contain a cluster of vibrant, brilliantly hued seeds. The seeds are small, oval-shaped, shiny, bright red.
Clear magnolia seeds by eradicating their waxy outer layer, soaking, draining, and washing to take away the oily movie.

After you have the berries, take away the waxy outer layer and clear the seeds.

  • Soak the berries in heat water in a single day or for a number of days to melt the purple outer shell. Then, it is best to be capable to take away it, revealing the seeds. 
  • Good seeds will sink, so discard any floaters earlier than draining the water. 
  • Drain water.
  • Wash the seeds with soapy water made with an natural dish detergent to take away the oily movie that surrounds the seeds. This movie prevents the seed from drying out as soon as outdoors in nature and must be eliminated earlier than the subsequent step. 

Chilly Stratification

Close-up of Umbrella Magnolia seeds on a wooden surface. The seeds themselves are reddish-brown and ovoid.
Imitate winter situations with chilly stratification for magnolia seeds by storing them inside a fridge.

Refrigeration mimics what the seeds may undergo throughout the winter after being discarded in chicken or mouse droppings. They merely sit dormantly, ready patiently for spring. This era of chilly publicity is named chilly stratification. Research present chilly stratification positively impacts seed germination, shoot top, and root size. 

Place your seeds in a moist paper towel or tucked into moist compost or seed-starting soil, and transfer them to a clear, air-tight bag or container. Retailer them in your fridge for the winter, guaranteeing they don’t dry out. Keep in mind, the seeds is not going to be viable in the event that they dry out. 

Sow Seeds

When the chance of frost has handed and the bottom has begun to thaw, take away your seeds from the fridge. For those who develop in a zone that doesn’t obtain frost, chances are you’ll take away them as early as mid-January. Undergo and take away any dried, rotten, or broken ones. 

You may sow the seeds in certainly one of two methods: 

Seeding in Containers 

Top view, close-up of a gardener's hand in a white glove planting seeds in a black plastic pot on a wooden table. Lots of small black plastic pots filled with potting mix are on the table.
Fill pots with seed-starting combine, sow seeds, water, and count on sprouting in 4-6 weeks.

Put together pots or seed trays by filling them with a seed-starting combine. Sow seeds ¼ – ½ inch deep. Cowl and water them nicely. Place in a heat space or atop a warmth mat set to 70° and make sure the soil doesn’t dry out. You must discover sprouting in 4-6 weeks. 

Direct Sowing

Close-up of a gardener's hand with an elongated rectangular white paper stick near the seeds sown in the soil. The seeds are small, oval-shaped, red in color with a slightly glossy texture. The soil is loose, brown, textured.
Choose a everlasting location, sow magnolia seeds, add compost, fertilizer, and water, and anticipate germination in 4-6 weeks.

Select your location rigorously for the long run. Though magnolia bushes might be transplanted, it’s not splendid. Sow seeds ¼ – ½ inch deep and canopy with soil, including a little bit compost and slow-release basic fertilizer. Water nicely and mulch. Relying in your rising zone, seeds ought to germinate in 4-6 weeks. 

For those who don’t see germination, your seeds might have dried out, frozen, or turn out to be a snack for a hungry chipmunk, mouse, or squirrel.


Close-up of a gardener's hand in a black and orange glove transplanting a magnolia seedling into the soil in a sunny garden. The seedling has a root ball shaped like a medium flower pot and has a vertical stem densely covered with leathery leaves. The leaves are oval-shaped, greenish-yellow, with a glossy texture.
Develop magnolia seedlings in bigger containers and transplant them in spring for optimum development.

It’s finest to transplant magnolia seedlings within the spring of the next yr. These child bushes are reasonably fast to develop and might typically be transplanted from their containers within the fall of the yr they have been sown. Nonetheless, they’ve giant floor roots which may be broken throughout a fall transplant. Plus, you don’t wish to encourage new development earlier than winter. In most climates, ready till the next spring to transplant is finest, particularly when winters are harsh. 

Step seedlings up into a bigger container as wanted and proceed to maintain them well-watered. Retailer them in a semi-heated storage, basement, utility room, or greenhouse for the winter months. A riskier choice is to closely mulch them and maintain them in a chilly body for the winter. 

When it’s time to transplant, your plant ought to be a number of toes tall with one central chief and have a robust, wholesome root system. Choose a location that receives full solar with free, well-draining soil.  

When transplanting: 

  • Dig a gap about as deep as your seedling root ball.
  • Place your magnolia seedling within the gap with the crown of the plant, even with the soil line.
  • Backfill with native soil and gently tamp it down round your seedling.
  • Sprinkle in a slow-release granular fertilizer and blend it into the soil.
  • Water nicely.
  • Mulch with woodchips, compost, or natural straw.


Close-up of two pairs of female hands with handfuls of compost, on the background of a young tree in the garden. The soil is covered with a layer of straw mulch.
Mulch direct-sown seeds with compost or straw and protect seedlings from direct daylight.

Seeds immediately sown in containers might be coated with vermiculite to assist the soil retain moisture, whereas seeds immediately sown open air ought to be mulched with compost or straw.

This may assist maintain moisture throughout germination and shield it from any spring fluctuations in temperature. Throughout the seedlings’ first yr of life, protect them from harsh, direct daylight with shade material. 

As your seedlings develop, proceed so as to add mulch every season across the base, protecting it immediately off the trunk. Do that in spring or fall throughout your annual cleanup after weeding, eradicating fallen twigs and leaves, and fertilizing.

Wait For Blooming and Maturity 

Close-up of blooming Magnolia flowers against a blurred background of green foliage. The flowers are large, cup-shaped, exhibit a delicate shade of pink, ranging from pale blush to deeper rosy tones. Each flower consists of numerous petal-like tepals that gracefully unfurl.
Magnolia bushes grown from seed sometimes bloom in 10-15 years.

Magnolia bushes that begin from seed will bloom in about ten years, however some species might take as much as 15 years. Timber grown outdoors their most popular zones might by no means efficiently bloom, so select the precise one in your zone.

Native to the southeastern United States, they are often grown in zones 2-10 however carry out finest the place winters stay gentle, thriving in zones 7-10. Some species can take as much as 20 years to completely mature and develop to 70 toes tall, so deciding on the precise location is vital.

What About Winter Sowing?

Winter Sowing. Top view of a plastic bottle, looking through a narrow hole at tiny sprouts in the soil. These sprouts have a pair of tiny oval, pale green cotyledons.
Winter sowing magnolia seeds open air mimics pure situations, usually proving more practical for germination.

Many growers have turned to winter sowing magnolia seeds, discovering that protecting seeds contained in the fridge for a couple of months couldn’t idiot the seeds. It appears the fixed relative humidity and temperature of the fridge merely don’t mimic nature sufficient to sign the seeds to get up and germinate in spring. 

For those who attempt beginning magnolia bushes from seed after chilly stratification and have an analogous expertise, attempt winter sowing them. Observe steps 1-3, however somewhat than storing seeds within the fridge, sow them in containers and retailer them outdoors for the winter. This permits them to expertise what’s taking place in nature, together with daylight, rain, snow, wind, and fluctuating temperatures. 

When you have greater than only a few seeds to experiment with, attempt chilly stratifying some seeds indoors whereas others can fend for themselves by winter sowing and see which methodology works higher for you. If you find yourself with further magnolia tree seedlings, share them with a gardening good friend or promote them in spring.

Often Requested Questions

Seeds ought to germinate in 4-6 weeks beneath splendid situations.

Though not splendid, seeds might be held in a managed setting between 32-40° in the event you should lengthen the storage for a couple of extra months. It is extremely vital that the seeds or storage medium don’t dry out. In the event that they lose an excessive amount of moisture, the seeds is not going to be viable.

Potential causes for a magnolia that isn’t blooming embrace: low soil fertility, rising outdoors the species’ most popular zone, and the tree being too younger. Most magnolias don’t start blooming till they attain about 10 years of age.

Closing Ideas

Magnolia bushes add magnificence, coloration, and enchanting curiosity to landscapes all throughout the globe however are an particularly widespread sight to see alongside the streets of the Southern United States. Whereas beginning them from seed takes further time, persistence, and effort, the reward is your personal magnolia tree, and also you gained’t be upset. 

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles