How to Start a Saucer Magnolia Tree from Seed


Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) features pink-and-white blossoms in early springtime. The trees grow vigorously for the first 20 years and then slow down considerably. Saucer magnolia trees can be grown in hardiness zones 5 to 9A and are easily started from seed. Start more seeds than you plan to use, since some will fail to germinate. If you don't have a saucer magnolia tree to harvest seeds from, approach neighbors who have a tree in their yard and ask whether you can collect fruit pods in the autumn.

Step 1

Wait until September or October, when the saucer magnolia bears fruit pods. Collect fruit pods that have fallen on the ground or take them off the tree.

Step 2

Place the pods on a windowsill, and leave them until they become quite dried out. This typically takes several days. When they're dry, crack the pods open by hand or with a paring knife. Remove the seeds inside.

Step 3

Soak the seeds overnight in warm water to remove the pulpy coating. In the morning, strain the seeds over a piece of wire mesh. Run the slippery seeds back and forth over the wire mesh to remove the coating.

Step 4

Prepare the ground for planting the seeds if you live in an area where winter temperatures reach 35 to 40 F or lower. Dig a narrow trench that's one to two times as deep as the magnolia seeds are long. If your area won't experience winter cold, store the magnolia seeds in a plastic bag filled with equal parts sand and peat moss. Leave the bag in the refrigerator until spring. Then plant them and tend them in the same manner as the fall-planted seeds.

Step 5

Sow the magnolia seeds in the trench. Leave 4 to 6 inches between seeds. Cover over the seeds with 1/4 inch of soil, and then moisten the soil so it is wet but not soggy.

Step 6

Continue to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Once the seedlings emerge, keep watering on the same schedule, and mulch the soil to help keep moisture in. Keep the seedlings in the trench and until they have reached at least 12 inches in height, and then transplant them to a permanent location following the standard process for transplanting shrubs and plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnolia seeds
  • Container
  • Wire mesh
  • Plastic bag (optional)
  • Sand (optional)
  • Peat moss (optional)
  • Small shovel


  • United States Forest Service: Saucer Magnolia
  • Texas A&M: Magnolia by Dr. William C. Welch
Keywords: saucer magnolia, start tree seed, start saucer magnolia

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.