General gardening topics

How to grow and propagate Magnolia from cuttings

Last updated on June 8th, 2022

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Magnolias are stunning trees to have in your garden. Most people admire their glossy foliage and fragrant flowers that come in an array of colours, from white to purple and pink as well, and even yellow. The best part is if you have a successfully growing Magnolia you can reap the benefit of adding more Magnolias by propagating and growing more plants from cuttings. 

When should you take a cutting from a Magnolia?

The best time to take a cutting is early in the morning when the Magnolia stem is plump and hydrated. 

Another variety is the Magnolia Susan which reaches a full mature height and spread of around 3 meters when grown in the ground and much smaller in containers.

How to take a cutting from a Magnolia

Start by sanitising your tools. You should always work with clean, sharpened tools to help make cuts easier. If you don’t clean your tools, or you have to try multiple times to create a cut, it can leave behind several open wounds. You can do this with a 10 minute soak in a mixture comprised of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach, household disinfectant, or rubbing alcohol. With the rubbing alcohol, you can just wipe down the tools before you work. 

Tip: If you plan to take cuttings from multiple trees, single-use alcohol wipes can help you clean the blades of your gardening tools in between cuts. This will go a long way toward minimising the risk of infection and improving your success rate. 

Before you take the cuttings, always sanitise the pots too. You also need to make sure that each pot you are using to plant a cutting has enough drainage holes. If you are using plastic pots you can always add extra holes to increase drainage. 

Wash each pot in a mixture of hot soapy water, rinse them and set them out to dry. 

Taking the cutting

The cut should be made about 15cm from the tip of the stem. 

Semi-hardwood cuttings have the biggest leaves and they lose moisture at a faster rate than they can replace it, so the leaves from the bottom half of each cutting should be stripped away. Only leave those near the tip. 

Given the challenges of rooting a Magnolia cutting, you should cut the bark at the base off with your blade, scraping away around 2cm of bark until the inner green layer is visible. Cover this open section with a rooting hormone, and this is often available as a powder or gel.

How to propagate Magnolias 

Before you start preparing your cuttings, remember that the rate of failure is high among Magnolias, even with otherwise perfect conditions. Because of this, it is recommended that you have multiple cuttings you propagate simultaneously so that you can choose the most successful of the bunch to grow them on further.

Get everything ready before you start taking any cuttings

When making your preparation for taking any cuttings, you should simultaneously prepare the environment you plan to propagate. 

There are, for example, propagators specifically designed for this purpose, with slight differences in layout, but otherwise quite similar in purpose; these are made with a bottom tray inside of which sit different pots or containers, each with a lid that sits on top and has adjustable openings for ventilation. 

The idea behind this is to create a greenhouse. Now, you do not need a propagator to do this, and can just as easily invest in small plastic pots or root trainers and then cover each cutting with a tented plastic bag or plastic lid, secured in place. Whatever gives you a greenhouse effect without touching the cutting directly will work fine. 

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Potting compost and inserting the cutting

The pots should be filled with a fast-draining mixture of 1 part sand and 1 part peat moss, or even just multi-purpose compost. The hormone-treated end should be placed in the medium, halfway up the cutting. Firmly pat the remaining soil in place.

Place the cutting outdoors

Place the pots outdoors, keeping them protected, where they can access sunlight but not direct sunlight, so ideally a little shade. Monitor the compost to ensure it remains moist, without being too wet because compost that is too wet creates fungal infections that will ruin the chances of propagating. They should be somewhere that doesn’t get exposure to midday sun or heavy wind. In a cold frame or in a greenhouse will work as well.

Potting on your cuttings

As the cuttings take root they will become larger and stronger, at which point they will likely need to be transplanted a handful of times into larger and larger pots to accommodate their changing size. 

It can take an average of 4-8 weeks to start rooting, but warmer temperatures can expedite this, however, it can also take longer. 

As mentioned, they will need to be transplanted as they get grow so any cuttings that are successful should be transplanted to a 1-litre pot with regular potting soil, and put back in its original place, for the duration of a full growing season. You should only transplant them into the ground in early autumn once they have good root systems.

Last update on 2024-04-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you this was a great informative blog. I never knew magnolia could propagated from a cutting. I love magnolia

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