Propagation of magnolias requires professional equipment as well as expert knowledge. If you are propagating magnolias from cuttings, you need to provide them with heat from the bottom and automatic mist sprays from above. However, growing trays are available these days are not only very helpful in the case of a number of plants, but also rather fun to use. In any case, magnolias propagated from cuttings take a long time to grow compared to those you purchase from any garden center. In case you are dealing with a magnolia variety that will really grow from wood cuttings, the possibilities are that when you choose them from any garden center or nursery, it is very likely to be with a flowering bud, or just getting ready to blossom in the following year. On the other hand, the magnolia cutting you make in your garden will be lagging behind by roughly three years.
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People who prefer doing things all by themselves and have no concern regarding the time consumed in doing any work, should follow the technique discussed below. After the new growth has somewhat stiffened in the beginning of mid-summer, you should take a cutting from the new growth from the place where it is connected with the growth from the previous year. Except three or four, get rid of all the leaves from the cutting and subsequently cut the leaves on the cutting to about half their original size. Reducing the size of the leaves helps to avoid excessive loss of water from the cutting.
Before making the cutting, fill about two-third of the planting pot with perlite and provide it with water till the planting medium becomes totally damp. Next, use your fingers to make a hole about 2 inches to 3 inches deep in the center of the pot.
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Now, open the container with the rooting hormone powder and immerse the cut end of the plant's growth about one inch into the hormone powder. Take out the branch after a while and strike it lightly against one side of the container with a view to do away with excessive powder on it. Place the cut end of the branch into the hole in the perlite and press a little to push up the potting medium so that the branch is held in place securely.
After planting the cutting keep the pots in a place receiving enough sunlight. However, ensure that the cutting is not under the sun or receives direct sunlight. At the same time, it is important to keep the perlite always moist till the cutting develops new roots. Generally, it will take anything between three and six months for the roots to develop.
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Once the cuttings have developed roots, pot the new plants and keep the pots in a shade house or in a sheltered position till they have recuperated from the shock of being transplanted. As the plants start new growths, remove them from the pots and plant them in your vegetable garden or any other space where you are cultivating plants. You need to wait for some time before they are transplanted into the permanent positions in the garden. This can only be done when the plants have grown sufficiently large. It may take about a year for you to transplant the young magnolias in their permanent places outdoors.
If you plan to propagate magnolias from their seeds, you need to wait for a considerable time for the seeds to germinate. It is considered to be a long-term hobby. However, when you actually grow magnolias from their seeds, you can expect something special as a reward. In fact, seed pods of many magnolia varieties are somewhat impressive - they are vividly colored having the shape of cucumbers.
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Collect the magnolia seeds when they are ripe - after the fruiting cone splits open. Dry the seeds, but make sure that they do not become desiccated. When the seed pods have dried, shake them to free the seeds. Next, put the seeds in warm water in a bowl and add about one teaspoon (5 ml) of ordinary detergent used for washing dishes. This is done to get rid of the external coating of the seeds and also the oily film that covers them. Having removed both, take the seeds out of water, dry them again and store them in a refrigerator till the end of winter or beginning of spring.
Irrespective of whether you are using fresh seeds or using stored seeds, it is essential to steep them in warm water for the night. It is advisable that before sowing the seeds you rub them against a portion of window screening with a view to get rid of the oil from their external fleshy parts. In fact, the magnolia seeds will not germinate unless you remove this oily substance.
If you wish to store magnolia seeds, you need to follow some guidelines. First, keep the seeds in layers inside a plastic bag containing damp peat. Tie the plastic bag, keep it in a refrigerator and keep the temperature at around 40°F.
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Sow the seeds in a soil comprising 2 parts peat, 1 part sand and 1 part loam at a depth of about 1/4 inch. Apply mulch with a view to avoid the soil mix from becoming desiccated. You need to ensure that the soil remains damp till the seeds have germinated. Once the magnolia seedlings have grown sufficiently large, transfer them to separate pots. This can be done about a month after the seeds have germinated. During the first summer of their existence, keep the magnolia seedlings in a semi-shaded place.
You can also propagate magnolias using a grafting method known as chip budding. This grafting technique entails taking away a portion of the bark from your magnolia tree/ shrub and substituting it with a bark from a different tree. Ensure that the bark you obtain from another tree has a bud, which will develop into a new branch having the traits of its parent tree.
Grafting should preferably be undertaken during spring when the buds just start opening up on the magnolia trees/ shrubs, which will serve in the form of an under stock.
Ideally, you should select a young tree to serve as the root stock, which should be taken from a resilient, disease-resistant magnolia variety.
Subsequently, cut and remove a branch from the magnolia tree you are using as an under stock. Use a sharp knife to make the cut on the branch. The cut should be in excess of 1/ 2 inch in diameter. Ensure that you allow a stub about a foot long to remain. Moreover, it is important that the cut is made straight as well as clean.
Next, cut down a small part in the middle of the magnolia branch with a view to split it slightly. However, be careful not to tear the branch deeply. Now, choose a stem from your preferred variety of magnolia tree for the scion. If possible, select a stem whose diameter is same as the branch that you plan to use as root stock. At the same time, make sure that the stem also includes bud nodes.
Take the scion and tidy its cut tip at an angle on either side so as to form a point in the shape of a wedge. Trimming the tip in this manner will help to expose a lot of the inner bark. Next, put in the wedge-shaped end of the scion into the split made in the branch of the under stock. Position the wedge end in such a way that the scion's inner bark is in contact with the root stock's inner bark.
Use a grafting tape to tightly fasten the point where the root stock is in contact with the under stock. Apply some grafting compound on the area and cover it completely with the grafting tape. Having done this, keep feeding as well as watering the root stock at regular intervals with a view to promote growth.
When you notice new growth on the scion, remove the grafting tape. However, allow some more time for the place of union between the root stock and under stock to heal. You can separate the new growth once the union has healed completely and plant it in your garden in the same manner as you plant any other tree.
In order to propagate magnolias through layering, you need to bend a low growing bough of the tree/ shrub so much that it touches the ground. Subsequently, make a cut straight up the bark of the bended branch at the point where it meets the soil. Secure the branch downward and cover the place of the cut with a heap of topsoil. Ensure that the projecting part of the branch is above the ground level and use a stalk to keep it in position with the end directing upward. After a couple of years when the buried part of the branch has developed roots, separate the part from the main branch.