Planting a magnolia tree from seeds requires preparation in order to maximize your results. Cleaning the seeds, maintaining them at the proper temperature and planting them in the correct mixture of potting mixture are keys to your success. Magnolias grown from seed may take between 15 and 20 years to bloom, whereas ones planted from grafts will take only 2 to 3 years before boasting beautiful blossoms.
Collect seeds from the cone-like fruit of a healthy magnolia tree after the fruit is mature, often in the middle of September or early October. Spread the fruit out to dry for a few days until they open. Shake the seeds from the cone.
Clean the seeds before you sow them by removing the fleshy seed coat. You can remove the coat if you soak the seeds overnight in warm water, and then rub them against hardware cloth or window screen.
Mix compost to sow your seeds. Blend together one part sand, one part loam and two parts peat and fill a potting container or potting tray with the mixture. Moisten the mixture.
Sow the magnolia seeds in the compost mixture, pressing the seeds about 1/4 inch beneath the surface. Cover the container and place it in a dark environment with temperatures around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds may take up to 18 months to germinate. Keep the seedbeds moist until the magnolia seeds are completely germinated.
Transplant the seedlings to a partially sunny location in your yard during the spring or the fall. Before planting the seedling, pre-condition the planting hole for the seedling’s root system. Dig the hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the root ball of your seedling. Fill the hole with loam or potting soil so the roots will rest at the same height as in the growing container. Fill in around the roots with more loam or potting soil and pack it in firmly around the tree.
Add organic mulch around the tree, but do not let the mulch touch the stem. A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around your young magnolia tree will help maintain the moisture level in the soil, which will help your tree take root and grow.