How to Successfully Plant Magnolia Trees from Seed


There are 100 species of magnolia, spread throughout the world, according to horticulturists at Texas A&M University. The one most of us think of when we envision the tree is the southern magnolia, or Magnolia grandiflora as it is known scientifically. This is an evergreen tree native to eastern Texas and the southern United States. Magnolia can grow to 80 feet in height with leaves up to one foot in length. It is the flowers though--the huge, white blooms--that endear this tree to many homeowners who long to grow it in the landscape. Begin propagating your magnolia seed in the fall.

Step 1

Place magnolia seeds in a small bucket or bowl, and pour warm water over to cover. Allow the seeds to soak for three days.

Step 2

Remove the seeds from the water, and gently squeeze the seeds from the outer covering. Place the seeds in a bowl containing warm water and a few drops of dish washing liquid. Use your fingers to lightly wash the seeds with the solution. Pour the seeds into a strainer, and rinse with clear, lukewarm tap water.

Step 3

Moisten the sand and place a 1/2-inch layer in the bottom of the plastic bag. Set four or five magnolia seeds on top of the sand, and cover with another 1/2-inch layer of sand. Continue to layer the seeds and the sand until all seeds are covered with sand.

Step 4

Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator until spring.

Step 5

Prepare the planting area by loosening the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Spread a 4-inch layer of compost and a 3-inch layer of peat moss over the area, and mix it in with the existing soil to a depth of 8 inches. Level the area with a rake.

Step 6

Push the magnolia seeds 1/4 inch deep into the soil. Cover the seeds lightly with more soil, but leave the top layer loose (do not pat the soil with your hands).

Step 7

Water the seed bed carefully so that you won't disturb the seeds, and keep it moist until the seeds germinate. Generally, you should see the sprouts within one month to one year.

Things You'll Need

  • Small bucket
  • Dish washing liquid
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Plastic bag


  • Texas A&M University: Southern Magnolia
  • University of Arkansas: Trees-Magnolia
  • "‬The Gardener's Guide to Planting and Growing Trees‭;" ‬Michael Buffin‭; ‬2007
Keywords: plant magnolia seed, propagate magnolia tree, germinate magnolia seed

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations, worldwide. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.