“In the land of magnolias the sea splashes ...” The words from the once popular song are not quite relevant today. The magnolia family is very diverse. There are deciduous and evergreen magnolias, come in the form of small bushes and tall trees. But all of them are united by one thing - flowers of incredible beauty that can fill your garden with an indescribably pleasant aroma, even if you do not live in the subtropics. Yes, today magnolia is increasingly turning into a resident of temperate regions. In this article I will tell and show in the photo how I grow magnolias from seeds.
Where to get a suitable magnolia seedling?
The only question is where to get it - magnolia, and how to choose the right one for your region? The easiest way is to go to the local botanical garden and / or garden center and study their range. If magnolias grow and are sold, then they can grow with you too.
Here, however, there is one difficulty - the cost of seedlings is high, and not everyone can afford to risk money with unpredictable results (after all, magnolias may not survive the first harsh winter). It is advisable to play it safe, having learned to propagate magnolia on your own in large quantities, so that in the case of a particularly harsh winter, have a stock of your seedlings.
Propagation of magnolia cuttings
A great way to fully preserve the varietal characteristics of the plant, but it turns out with difficulty and not at all. It is advisable to take cuttings in spring and from young plants. That is, such a plant must already be in your home or acquaintances. And the temperature regime should be strictly observed (+ 22 ... + 25 degrees).
Magnolia propagation by layering
The method has the same advantages - all varietal features are fully preserved, but even here it is necessary to have a maternal copy “at hand”. And there are not always branches that are convenient for bending them to the ground and securing them in this position for the entire rooting period.
Propagation of magnolia seeds is not a quick process, but, in my opinion, interesting. We’ll talk about it in more detail today.
Picking the fruits of magnolia
Magnolia blooms very early, earlier than most trees, in April, and some species even in March. Although large-flowered magnolia blooms in the summer (but this is a completely southern variant). In recent years, due to climate change, re-blooming can sometimes occur around the end of summer.
Magnolia blooms for a whole month. The flowers are large, bright, up to 20 cm or more in diameter. Depending on the variety, the flowers can be white, pink, purple, red, lilac, plain or with bordering and stripes.
By the fall, fruits are formed from flowers. In some species they are cylindrical in shape, in some they resemble cones.
These are the fruits we will collect. The easiest way to do this is in botanical gardens or parks, in the area where they are grown. True, it is worthwhile to understand that, having collected the fruits of magnolia in the southern regions, there is no guarantee that the plants grown from them will survive your colder winter.
Preparing seeds for stratification
Now you need to extract the seeds themselves from the fruits. In magnolias, the seeds are surrounded by a red oily shell (scientifically called a sarcotest). This shell protects the seeds from drying out. Dried magnolia seeds lose their germination. That's why do not buy dry seeds, they should be either in this natural shell or packed in something moist.
The next step, perhaps, is not entirely pleasant - we clear the seeds from this very juicy shell (sarcotest). The easiest way to do this is with your nails.
The cleaned magnolia seeds should be washed in water with the addition of liquid dishwashing detergent. This is necessary in order to wash off the remnants of the oily liquid that protects the seeds (it prevents their germination).
Magnolia Seed Stratification
We send fully prepared seeds for stratification (here we will describe in more detail). The seeds of some plants contain substances that prevent their premature (autumn) germination. But these substances gradually - under the influence of low temperatures and humidity - decay by spring, and the seed gets the opportunity to germinate. Such a process can be entrusted to nature, but in the case of seeds of rare plants (and magnolia among them) it is better to carry out it under control.
Sphagnum (sand, perlite, vermiculite, neutral peat) is well suited for the stratification process. Sphagnum should be soaked for 20 minutes in water, and then squeezed out well.
In moist sphagnum or other moist and friable substrate we place magnolia seeds, trying to cover them from all sides. We place all this “mixture” in a plastic container with a lid (a plastic bag is also suitable) and put it in the lower (vegetable) box of the refrigerator.
With proper adjustment, the temperature is constantly kept there + 4 ... + 5 degrees, which is ideal for stratification of magnolia. For three months we forget ... no, of course, we do not forget, but periodically, about once every 2-3 weeks, open and inspect the seeds (which is why the container is more convenient than the package).
If they have dried up (although they should not), slightly moisten, if moldy, then rinse in water (possible with potassium permanganate). If you start this process around mid-October, when the seeds are collected, then after the Old New Year the seeds should already show readiness for germination, their outer shell will burst. It's time to move on to the next step.
Sowing stratified magnolia seeds to the ground
Around the middle of January, prepare a container or box (depending on the number of seeds). Do not forget that there should be openings in it to drain excess water. Fill this container with a good, loose and fertile mixture. Supplements of biohumus (for nutrition) and vermiculite (for moisture retention) are welcome.
Sow stratified magnolia seeds into this mixture to a depth of 3 cm and send crops to a light and warm windowsill. Although light - not yet necessary. In fact, the seeds will need another two months to appear “in the light of day”. And do not forget to water the empty-looking container all this time.
Already by March 8, the first sprouts of magnolia should appear, here the light is vital for plants, so they need a southern window sill and artificial lighting.
At this stage, differences in the growth rate of different species are clearly visible. I got the fastest sprouts of Sulange, Lebner magnolias and obovate, large-flowered. Although, perhaps this is due to differences in soil mix and location (this question is poorly studied).
And then - regular watering and, if desired, top dressing with fertilizers for seedlings. Magnolias are quite tenacious and, with good care, grow well even in the first year. In different species, their height for the first season is from 10 cm to 30 cm.
Of course, the described process can be simplified by immediately sowing the seeds, without cleaning and washing in the soil mixture, and put in the refrigerator or cellar, but, as practice shows, germination will be lower. If you need 1-2 seedlings of magnolia, then do it, if you are targeting a large quantity, then it is better to use the technology described above and proven.
What to do at the end of the growing season with the growing annuals of magnolia? In the southern regions with rare and not severe frosts, they can be safely planted in the ground, only sometimes when the temperature drops below 0, making it an easy shelter. In the northern regions, where frosts are constant in winter, it should be postponed until spring, or better, another year, so that the seedlings grow stronger. Seedlings of deciduous magnolias should winter at a temperature of + 0 ... + 5 degrees, it is possible without light (in the basement).
Planting Magnolia seedlings in open ground
When planting magnolia seedlings in open ground, you should carefully choose a place. She has fragile roots and transplants from place to place, she does not like and experiences them painfully.
A place worth choosing is protected from winds and drafts, with lots of sun, and in the southern regions, on the contrary, it is slightly shaded.
Magnolia does not like heavy, clay, sandy, waterlogged and calcareous soils (capricious, but beautiful), so prepare the landing pit and soil mixture in accordance with all the rules, taking into account its requirements.
Typically, magnolias do not grow actively in summer, but in late summer or early fall.
The seed method of magnolia propagation allows you to grow plants resistant to the winters of your region, especially if the seeds are collected from parents growing in a colder climate.
The disadvantages of seed propagation of magnolias
Of course, this method of magnolia propagation has two significant drawbacks.
If you like a particular variety, and you managed to find and collect its seeds, unfortunately, you will not get varietal features as a result. During seed propagation, only species characteristics of this plant are preserved.
Magnolias grown from seeds will not bloom in 10 years (but time is fleeting!)
But anyway, any magnolia is beautiful! And even more so - grown independently!