When growing magnolia from seed, the most difficult part is preparing the seed for planting. There are approximately 100 different species of magnolia; the most common is the Magnolia grandiflora, which proliferates in the southern U.S. This is an evergreen tree that can reach heights of 80 feet. The white blooms can span 14 inches across on mature trees. Collect seeds when the brown pods that follow the flowers ripen and burst open. Seeds come out large and red and you must get to them before the birds and squirrels eat them up.
Place the seed pod on a picnic table or tarp to dry out as soon as it comes off the tree. This will allow the pod to open and the seed can be shaken out of the pod.
Place the seeds in a container and seal it. Put it in the refrigerator until they lose the red, fleshy texture.
Take the seed out of the container and place in a bowl of warm water overnight. Then rub the seeds against a piece of window screen to remove the fleshy coating. Do not allow the seed to dry out before placing in a damp soil mixture.
Mix one part peat moss with one part sand and moisten it. It should feel like a wrung-out sponge that you can not squeeze any more water out of.
Place a layer of the soil mixture in the bottom of a plastic bag. Add a few of the seeds. Then add another layer of the soil and more seeds. Cover your layers with soil and twist the top of the bag and tie. Place in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 months, depending on when the weather will be warm enough to plant.
Dig a planting bed in the spring after the last threat of frost has passed. It should be about 4 inches deep and you will need 1 foot between plants. Amend the soil with a few handfuls of compost so it drains well and gives the seed some added nutrition. Place the bed in full sun.
Place the seeds in the bed, covering them with 1/4 inch of amended soil and 1 to 2 inches of mulch.
Keep the planting beds moist until germination has taken place and the root systems have been established.
Once the seedlings start to grow, keep the strongest one and either discard or transplant the others. These are very big trees and need a lot of room to grow.