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Tuesday - September 22, 2009

From: Johnsburg, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Propagating a new tree from a magnolia in Johnsburg IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My friend would like to reroot her magnolia tree in her front yard to bring it with her to Memphis. The tree is huge and easiest to reroot if possible. Does she trim branches to root, or dry the seeds on the branches?

ANSWER:

We hope your friend realizes that it is going to be a long time before any offspring, whether from seeds or cuttings, is going to approach the size of the mature magnolia she has now. She might decide to purchase commercially a young tree and have it planted by a tree specialist. We are assuming you are referring to Memphis TN, so we would recommend Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia), which is not native to Illinois, but is to Tennessee. 

If, for sentimental reasons, she really wants to take some of that tree with her, here are the Propagation Instructions for a magnolia.

Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Propagation methods include the use of fresh seed sown in fall, stratified seed, or wounded, semi-hardwood cuttings taken in summer. The seed of evergreen magnolias seems to germinate more quickly than that of the deciduous varieties.
Seed Collection: Gather as soon as cones drop or the red seeds appear. When ripe, the seeds are bright red, fleshy, oily, soft on the outside and stony on the inside. Clean and store in moist sand or sphagnum moss in refrigerator. Cold, moist storage also serves at stratification.
Seed Treatment: Stored seed must be kept moist and cool which will also serve as stratification. Stratify at least 60 days.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Maintain moist soil, Remove dead growth, Prevent complete soil dryness, Do not prune lower limbs & leaves, Fertilize in spring, mid-season & fall with azalea/camellia-type fertilizer

Obviously, you don't cut off a whole branch to root, the semi-hardwood cuttings are the best route to take. It may be too late in the season to take those cuttings, but it is worth a try.There are several different stages at which cuttings may be taken, and you should urge your friend to take some of each kind to help ensure that one survives to grow at her new home. The best instructions we have found for taking stem cuttings are from this North Carolina State University website Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings. 

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