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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.

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

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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!

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Wednesday - November 02, 2011

From: windham, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Propagation, Trees
Title: Propagating a Magnolia tree from a twig cutting in New Hampshire.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a twig cutting from a rare magnolia tree I found on a farm in central New Hampshire. The tree seems to be at least one hundred years old. It was in full bloom in late August and I was told by the owner that it blooms 3 to 4 times every season. It was twice the size of any magnolia I have seen in New England an the leaves and bark were very dark for a magnolia. The leaves were also about three times the size of the common saucer magnolias in this area. I would like to know if it is possible to propagate fro a cutting. I put my cutting in water for the last ten weeks. It has not sprouted any roots yet but it does seem to be sending something out from where the leaves eminate from.

ANSWER:

Generating plants from cuttings is a widely used method of plant propagation, but often involves more than merely sticking a twig in a jar of water. I’m including several links to sites about plant propagation to acquaint you with the various methods used, and to familiarize  you with the terminology.

   mastergardenproducts.com    

   North Carolina State University

   Washington State University Cooperative Extension

   Virginia Cooperative Extension       (note the caveat about rooting plants in water)

This link to southernliving.com  contains some good information about Magnolias in general.  Of particular interest is a list of large-leafed magnolias.

     Cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminatamore info      

     Bigleaf magnolia (M. macrophylla)

     Umbrella magnolia (M. tripetala)

     Fraser magnolia (M. fraseri)

      Ashe magnolia (M. ashei)

These are medium-size trees with huge leaves and large flowers that appear after the leaves unfurl.  This may help you identify the Magnolia you are working with.

Another source of help is the Rockingham County Office of the University of New Hampshire Coopererative Extension.

 

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