If you have magnolia trees in your yard and they’re starting to produce seeds, then chances are you’re also wondering how to grow magnolia from seed. Follow this step-by-step guide on how to grow magnolia from seed to create beautiful new plants that will continue growing and blooming for years to come!
When to start?
For a seedling, it’s best to start in February or March. The ideal window for germination in spring and summer, so you can plant it outside when you move into your home. If you live in a cold area and aren’t ready to plant outdoors, then start indoors using plastic cups with holes poked in them for drainage. Here’s how:
- Soak seeds overnight before sowing into small plastic pots filled with vermiculite or perlite soil mixture (1/2 sand/1/2 peat moss).
- Sprinkle seeds over moistened planting medium.
- Cover seeds loosely with a thin layer of soil mix (1/4 inch).
Once sprouted, plant directly into well-drained garden soil after danger of frost has passed.
Where to get the seeds?
You can purchase dried magnolia seeds from a number of companies, or you can try buying some fresh seeds if you see them for sale at a local nursery. However, it’s important to know that magnolias have double dormancy, which means that they need two periods of cold temperatures to germinate. In other words, while you might be able to buy some fresh magnolia seeds and sprout them right away (assuming it’s spring), they won’t likely germinate until sometime in winter. Suppose you live in a climate where cold weather doesn’t occur naturally. In that case, there are ways around double dormancy – such as covering your seed with sand and keeping it refrigerated – but be sure to research these methods before attempting them.
How much sun do they need?
Magnolias are mostly shade trees, but they will grow in full sun. To survive long periods of time without water, they need plenty of shade. If you live in a very hot climate and have deciduous trees providing shade for your magnolia during the summer months, you can try planting it in full sun. However, if you live where summers are extremely hot, your magnolias may do better in part shade or even full shade; again, a healthy magnolia doesn’t need much sunlight to thrive as long as it’s not baking under a blazing hot sun. Since most people don’t choose their home based on whether or not their favorite tree can survive there, you probably want your magnolia to perform well no matter where you live. You also might want some control over how quickly your young magnolia grows, which means choosing a specific variety rather than leaving everything up to nature.
How much water do they need?
To make sure they grow healthy and strong, new magnolias need at least 10 gallons of water a week. Place your magnolias in a sunny area where they can get sunlight throughout the day. Water them thoroughly when you plant them and then again once or twice more every week, if needed. Be careful not to overwater your magnolias, though. They’re tough plants but sensitive to over-watering; too much moisture can lead to root rot or fungal infections. If you have large pots with drainage holes in their bottoms, you can place several inches of gravel in your pots before planting them—this will allow excess water to drain away from your plants.
How often should I fertilize them?
Fertilize magnolias every two weeks, from March until September, with an all-purpose 10-10-10 formula. If you notice leaves turning yellow, cut back on fertilizing for a couple of weeks. Yellowing leaves also could mean your tree isn’t getting enough water; keep it well watered and let it dry out between watering. Once you see flowers form—about a year after planting—stop fertilizing your magnolia altogether. A sudden burst of fertilizer can cause flowers to drop off instead of setting seed pods, and those seeds won’t germinate properly unless they come from healthy flowers.
What if there are no flowers?
If a magnolia tree fails to produce flowers during its first few years, it is unlikely that it will ever flower. However, there are exceptions. If you live in a region where magnolias grow naturally, but your tree didn’t produce flowers, don’t lose hope. You might just have one of those extremely rare seedlings that grow into flowerless trees. The next time you transplant your tree or dig up its roots to move it, take some cuttings and plant them in your yard—maybe one of them will grow into a beautiful flowering magnolia!
Pests and Diseases
When you plant seeds, you do so in hopes that they will grow into beautiful and healthy trees. Unfortunately, sometimes even with your best efforts, nature can take over. Pests and diseases can be very damaging to your tree, making it hard for it to survive. So what’s a gardener to do? It’s important that you learn how pests and diseases affect trees and how you can stop them from harming your magnolias. With some basic knowledge, you can easily get rid of any unwanted insects or diseases so that your magnolias have a chance at growing big and strong. Here are some things you should know about controlling these pesky invaders.
The best time to control pests is during fall: This is when many pest species enter a dormant stage where their metabolism slows down significantly, allowing them to live through winter. At this point, most of their vital organs cease functioning, thus affecting their ability to move around and digest food properly. You won’t find as many pests during winter, which makes now an excellent time for maintenance actions because there are fewer organisms vying for your food supply.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up: You can’t do everything at once, so start small. For example, if you want to grow a magnolia tree from seed, start by germinating one seed and letting it grow into a small sapling before planting more seeds or moving forward with plans for a mature magnolia in your yard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or discouraged when you look at all that lies ahead, but if you keep moving forward step by step, there’s no telling how much you can achieve. Before long, you could have your own tiny forest of magnolias!