How to Plant Magnolia Trees From a Seed


Magnolias are magnificent flowering trees that grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 9. Different varieties of magnolia are suited to different zones, so select seeds that are suited to your climate zone. By gathering seeds from a tree that already grows in your area, you are assured of having a tree that will do well. Magnolias thrive in full sun and can sometimes grow to 30 or 40 feet tall. Magnolias are very tolerant of varied soil conditions and can tolerate extended flooding.

Step 1

Collect seeds from mature fruit between mid September and early October.

Step 2

Spread the fruit out in the sun to dry for several days. As the fruit dries, the pods will open.

Step 3

Shake out the seeds from the dried-out fruit.

Step 4

Allow the red coating on the seeds to dry out until it loses its fleshy feel.

Step 5

Place the seeds in a tightly sealed jar in your refrigerator to keep them until spring. Ideally, the seeds should be kept between 32 degrees F and 41 degrees F.

Step 6

Remove the seeds from the refrigerator in the spring after the risk of frost has passed.

Step 7

Soak the seeds overnight in warm water to soften the red coating. It should become fleshy again by morning.

Step 8

Remove the red coating from the soaked seeds by rubbing them against a piece of window screen.

Step 9

Prepare the soil in a shady location by turning the soil with a shovel and breaking up clumps until they are no larger than a pea. Although mature trees prefer full sun, young magnolia trees can be damaged by the heat of full sun. Smooth the soil with a rake.

Step 10

Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and under about 1 inch of mulch. Water the newly planted seeds and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnolia tree with seed pods
  • Jar
  • Window screen
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Mulch


  • J. C. Raulston Arboretum: Newsletter
  • Texas A&M University: Southern Magnolia
  • University of Florida: Southern Magnolia
Keywords: magnolia trees, magnolia propagation, magnolia seeds

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.