How to Start Magnolia Trees


Nothing represents the South more beautifully than the magnolia tree. With its huge white blooms and vibrant green leaves and powerful fragrance, it demands attention. According to Dr. William C. Welch, a professor at Texas A&M University, the magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) can reach a height of 80 feet, leaves can grow to 1 foot in length and blooms can span 14 inches. Growing one isn't difficult and requires some basic seed preparation. It's finding room to accommodate its size that's challenging.

Step 1

Collect your magnolia fruit in mid-September to early October. Lay them out in the sun to dry and then shake the seeds loose.

Step 2

Soak the seeds in warm water for two to three days. Keep checking to see if the seed coat has softened. When it has, remove the seeds and squeeze them from the seed coat.

Step 3

Remove the protective coating on the seeds by washing them in a weak solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water.

Step 4

Moisten the peat moss, and place a handful in the bottom of a plastic bag. Place a layer of magnolia seeds on top and then cover with an additional layer of peat moss. Keep layering the seeds and moss. When finished, seal the plastic bag with a twist tie or rubber band, and place it in the refrigerator. Remove the bag from the refrigerator in the spring when you are ready to plant the seeds.

Step 5

Dig up the planting site to a depth of 12 inches. Add a 3-inch layer of compost and a 2-inch layer of peat moss, and mix it in well with the soil.

Step 6

Plant the magnolia seeds 1/4 inch deep and cover lightly with soil. Water the area with the fine-mist setting on your hose or sprinkler, and keep the soil moist, not soggy, until the seeds germinate. This can occur from four weeks after planting to more than a year later.

Things You'll Need

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Peat moss
  • Transparent plastic bag
  • Twist tie or rubber band
  • Compost


  • Texas A&M University: Southern Magnolia
  • Magnolia Society International: Care and Propagation
  • Clemson University: Magnolias in the Garden
Keywords: germinate magnolia seed, propagate magnolia seed, grow magnolia tree

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. 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.