How to Plant Magnolia Trees From Seeds


There are more than 100 species of magnolias ranging in size from 12-foot shrubs to trees reaching over 80 feet high, including some evergreens. This southeastern native of Asia and the United States blooms in colors of creamy white to pinks, with flowers ranging in size of 2 to 3 inches to more than 8 inches. Brown, cone-like seedpods that hold an abundance of red, fleshy seeds follow the summer flowering stage. Starting and planting magnolia seeds is relatively basic so even novice gardeners will see results.

Step 1

Allow the magnolia seedpods to ripen on the tree before harvesting. The seedpods generally form in fall and will turn brown and begin to split open when the seeds are ripe for planting.

Step 2

Cut the seedpod from the magnolia tree and remove the seeds. Place them on a newspaper and allow them to dry. The red outer coating will no longer have a fleshy texture when the seeds have dried.

Step 3

Clean the seeds before planting. Fill a container with warm water and place the dried magnolia seeds into it. Allow the seeds to soak in the water for 12 to 24 hours, loosening the outer coating.

Step 4

Clean the seed coating from the outside of the seed by rubbing the seed across a rough cloth or a section of window screen.

Step 5

Plant the seeds as soon as possible after cleaning; they will lose their viability if left at room temperature for too long. Store seeds you will not be planting inside a container. Fill a container with damp sphagnum moss, place the seeds between it and store for three to six months in the refrigerator.

Step 6

Fill a pot with a potting medium that drains well and has organic matter incorporated into it if planting right away. Magnolia seeds require planting in a soil that does not retain water or they will rot before germinating.

Step 7

Plant the magnolia seed in the potting mix 1/2 inch deep. Make an indentation in the soil with your finger, place the seed into the hole and lightly cover with soil.

Step 8

Water the container, thoroughly moistening the soil. Continue watering the container, keeping the soil moist while the magnolia seed germinates.

Step 9

Place a piece of plastic or glass over the top of the container while the magnolia seed is germinating. This will create an atmosphere with humidity inside the container as well as keep the soil moist. Remove the plastic or glass covering when the magnolia seed germinates in two weeks to two months.

Step 10

Situate the container in an area that receives sunlight for the majority of the day. The magnolia seed requires warmth and sunlight to germinate.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Newspaper
  • Container
  • Water
  • Cloth
  • Screening
  • Planting container
  • Potting mix


  • The Southern Gardener: Southern Magnolia
  • Magnolia Society: Sowing Magnolia Seeds
  • The United States National Arboretum: Magnolia Questions and Answers
Keywords: sowing magnolia seeds, planting magnolia seeds, propagating magnolia seeds

About this Author

Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.