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How to Graft a Magnolia Tree

By Frank Whittemore ; Updated September 21, 2017

Magnolia trees are tall and majestic in appearance, with a classic form and large, dark, glossy green leaves and huge cup-like white flowers, for which they are prized. Magnolias can be propagated any number of ways, including grafting. A graft is the implanting of a stem from one tree that has desirable traits, called a scion, into a branch of another more hardy and disease resistant tree called the understock. The two will eventually merge to form one plant. The Modified Cleft Graft is a relatively easy way to graft a magnolia scion to small root stock.

Creating the Graft

Graft in the spring from when buds are beginning to open on trees that will act as understock.

Select a young tree for root stock from a hardy, disease-resistant variety of the magnolia tree.

Cut off a branch from the understock tree no more than a half inch in diameter with a sharp knife, leaving about a foot long stub. The cut should be clean and straight.

Make a small cut down into the center of the branch to slightly split it. Do not split the branch too deeply.

Select a stem from a tree of the desired variety for the scion. Ideally, the stem should be around the same diameter as the branch on the root stock. Ensure the stem has bud nodes on it.

Trim the cut tip of the scion at an angle on both sides to form a wedge-shaped point. This will expose as much of the inner bark as possible.

Insert the wedge end of the scion into the split in the branch on the understock. Align one edge of the inner bark of the scion to be in contact with the inner bark of the root stock.

Bind the union tightly with grafting tape then cover the tape entirely with grafting compound.

Continue to feed and water the root stock regularly to encourage growth.

Remove the tape as soon as the scion shows signs of growth. Allow the union to completely heal, then plant as you would any other tree.


Things You Will Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Grafting tape
  • Grafting compound

About the Author


In Jacksonville, Fla., Frank Whittemore is a content strategist with over a decade of experience as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy and a licensed paramedic. He has over 15 years experience writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics in medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports.