Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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. 

Pictures from our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia grandiflora

 

 

More Propagation Questions

No berries on dogwoods in GA
November 18, 2010 - I have 4 native dogwood trees. I have owned the property for 4 years. They have never produced berries. Can you tell me why? are the trees male and female, and could I have all males?
view the full question and answer

Source of Berlandiera pumila seeds from Coral Gables FL
June 07, 2012 - Where can I buy plants or seeds of Berlandiera pumila?
view the full question and answer

Growing Florist Roses
January 23, 2016 - Often I find that florist roses sprout for me, but I fail to get them to grow into a bush. Do you have the answer?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Chandler's craglily from San Marcos TX
December 16, 2012 - Can you please advise me on collecting and propagating seed from Chandlerís craglily -Echeandia chandleri. I have 2 plants that came from the wildflower center. They never seem to multiply, but they d...
view the full question and answer

Germination of bluebonnet seeds in Hempstead, TX
April 01, 2008 - We scattered 20 lbs of bluebonnet seeds on our property near Hempstead. Only about 10 plants have come up even though on another part of the property we have thousands. It is well drained and in sun....
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.