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Wednesday - October 20, 2010

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Growing Magnolia from Seed in Dallas
Answered by: Mike Tomme


I recently visited the property that had once been my grandmother's. Lots of memories. The house burned down years ago, but the magnolia tree that she loved still stood. I gathered several dried seed pods and put them in a bag thinking I would grow a magnolia from my grandmother's tree. When I got home, there were five red seeds in the bottom of the sack. My grandmother had five children including my mother so I sort of think I am supposed to try this. Anything you can offer that would help me grow these seeds would be appreciated. I believe the tree is the variety grandiflora. Patti Herndon


Let's see here - five seeds, five children, yep, you're supposed to try this.

Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia) is a magnificent tree and it holds a special place for all of us from the south.

Dr. William C. Welch of Texas A&M has written an article about the southern magnolia. In that article, he gives detailed instructions on how to propagate the tree from seed, including the preparation and care of the seeds. Here is that part of the article:


There are frequent requests to my office for instructions on growing magnolias from seed. The seeds should be collected as soon as possible after the fruit is mature which is usually mid-September or early October. The cone-like fruit should be spread out to dry for several days until they open. The seeds can then be shaken from the dried cone or fruit.

If the seed is to be kept for any length of time, the red pulp should be allowed to dry enough to lose its fleshy character, placed in sealed containers and stored at 32 to 41 degrees F. If stored over winter at room temperature seed will lose its viability. The seed should be cleaned before planting or stratifying. To remove the fleshy seed coat, soak the seed overnight in warm water. Remove the seed coat by rubbing against hardware cloth or window screening. After cleaning, the seeds should be sown immediately or stored for 3 to 6 months at about 40 degrees F and planted in the spring. An excellent way to stratify seeds is to use a polyethylene bag and place alternating layers of a moist medium such as a sand and peat mixture and seeds in the bag. Tie the top of the bag and place in a refrigerator at about 40 degrees. The medium should be just moist enough to stick together but not so wet that it will drip if squeezed by hand.

Whether sown in the fall or stratified in the refrigerator and sown in the spring, the seeds should be covered with about l/4" of soil and mulched to prevent drying. Seedbeds should be kept moist until germination is complete. Partial shade should be provided the first summer for seedlings.


Success for the long term with any plant is going to depend on its growing conditions so pick locations with favorable sun and soil conditions as described in the links above. Also, this grows to be a large tree, so make sure you have plenty of room.

Magnolia grandiflora



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