Magnolia trees (Magnolia spp.) vary in size, depending on the species, of which there are more than 100. For example, Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) reaches 60 to 80 feet tall, while its cultivar “Little Gem” reaches only 12 feet. Magnolia flowers are large, creamy white or pink with a heady scent. Magnolia trees grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, depending on the species, and need well-draining soil. While you can grow a magnolia from seed, it may take 15 to 20 years to bloom.
Snip a cone-shaped pod off the tree at the top of the cone with pruning shears. Collect magnolia seedpods in the fall when they turn reddish-brown.
Lay the seedpod on a flat tray or plate and leave it for about a week until the pods open, are dry and you can see the red seeds.
Pick up the seedpods and shake them so the seeds fall out of the pods.
Place a seed in a bowl of warm water and allow it to soak overnight. This loosens the red protective coating. The next day, rub the seed against a brick gently to remove the coating.
Place a handful of sand and peat moss in a sandwich bag. Mix the two together and sprinkle them with water. Insert the seed into the middle of the mixture and close the bag. Place it in a refrigerator at 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit to cold stratify the seed over winter. Check the mixture in the bag about once a week and add water, as needed, to keep the medium moist.
Remove the bag from the refrigerator in spring after all threat of frost has passed.
Fill a 4-inch pot to within 1 inch from the top with potting soil. Make an indention in the middle of the pot that is twice the depth of the seed's length, insert the seed and cover it with potting soil.
Place the pot outdoors in a shady area and keep the soil moist, but not wet, until the seed germinates. Maintain these conditions for the first year. Bring the seedling indoors in the winter during freezing weather.
Dig a hole that is twice the width of the root ball and the same depth as the root ball the following spring. Choose an area that receives full sun to partial shade in well-draining soil. Plant the seedling in the hole and water it thoroughly.