Tree propagation is a fascinating and rewarding activity. What could be more exciting than giving life to a new plant? Today we will look at the easiest way to propagate a magnolia.
Quick tips on how to start Magnolia from cuttings
- Take a cutting about 4 to 6 inches long in early summer.
- Dip the bottom of the cutting into the rooting gel.
- Insert the cutting into the sterile soil.
- Water the cuttings to make the soil moist.
- Transfer the pot with the cutting to a greenhouse or place a transparent dome over the pot.
- Keep the soil around the cutting slightly moist and ventilate it regularly.
When to take cuttings?
The best time to take cuttings from a magnolia is early summer. Around the beginning of June, most magnolias already have young growth with terminal buds. That is the buds from which the branches will begin to grow, but not the flowers.
Also, the beginning of summer is good because by the end of the year the cuttings will have time to create a full root system and may even produce a few new leaves. All this will help the young tree to survive the winter more easily.
As for the weather, give preference to humid cloudy weather with rain on the eve. This will allow the cuttings to have plenty of water in their tissues. For the same reason, take cuttings early in the morning, but not in the afternoon or evening.
Take cuttings when all preparations are complete. This means you have to fill the pots with soil and get all the tools ready before you cut the cuttings. You have to place the cuttings quickly in the soil and not let them lose any moisture.
Avoid taking cuttings while the magnolia is dormant, i.e. in winter or early spring. This is especially true for deciduous magnolias. If you take cuttings when the tree is still leafless, it will be very difficult to root.
How to take cuttings?
The day before you take the cuttings, water the magnolia well so that it stores as much water as possible. But you should only water if it hasn’t rained for a few days beforehand.
Use sharp pruning shears to take cuttings. Disinfect them with alcohol beforehand.
The cuttings should be about 6 inches long. It is best to take a green wood cutting. This means it should be this year without brown bark but mature.
Make the cut at a slight angle to increase the cutting area. This is where the new roots will come from. But do not make any cuts at the bottom of the cutting as this will not be helpful.
Avoid taking cuttings that have brown spots (on leaves and branches). Sick cuttings are not suitable for rooting.
Remove the leaves only from the lower part of the cutting. The more leaves that are left, the better it will root since the leaves are what stimulate the creation of the root system. For this very reason, don’t cut the leaves halfway off, as some experts recommend.
How to root?
Before you take cuttings you need to prepare everything for their rooting. This is to make sure that on the day you put them in the pots they are as fresh as possible.
First, get pots that are at least 10 inches wide and deep. You need a separate pot for each cutting to avoid replanting in the rooting year. The pots should have at least 4 drainage holes, if not, drill them.
Fill the pots with sterile potting soil. Use only good quality potting soil free of pathogens. You can make your own potting soil mix with perlite and other ingredients. This is even better, but quality potting soil from a reputable supplier works well, too.
The potting soil should be slightly moist before you put the cuttings in. Use a thin stick to make one hole in the soil in each pot.
Dip the bottom of the cutting into rooting powder or gel. There should be plenty of rooting hormone on the cutting. The rooting gel works best because it does not wash off with water and prevents the tissues from dying off.
Insert the cutting into the pot to a depth of at least 2 inches. Then lightly compact the soil around the cutting with your fingers. Water the soil to make it wet. The excess water should come out through the holes in the bottom of the pot.
Place the pot with the cutting in a greenhouse or cover it with a transparent dome. Keep the cutting in the shade but not in the dark for the entire rooting period. In other words, there should be no direct sun but only reflected sun.
How long do magnolia cuttings take to root?
Magnolia cuttings will take 6 to 10 weeks to take root. The speed of rooting will depend on how big the cuttings are and how vigorous the mother plant is.
Also, different species and varieties of magnolia will root differently. The warmer the weather, the better the rooting process will be.
All this time you need to keep a close eye on the cuttings. Keep the soil in the pots slightly moist but not wet.
Ventilate the cuttings every day. If they are in the greenhouse, open the door or window for about half an hour. If cuttings are under a dome, remove it for the same amount of time each day.
There is no need to mist the leaves of the cuttings, even though some experts recommend it. The water that evaporates from the soil is enough to keep the air humidity levels up.
Once the cuttings have taken roots, they do not need to be transplanted immediately. Wait until the following spring and only then transplant it from the pot to a new location.
If you transplant the cuttings in the rooting year, they may die in the winter. Instead, place it in partial shade in the garden until next season.
Read more: How To Properly Grow Magnolias?
Can you root magnolia cuttings in water?
You can root magnolia cuttings in water. However, this method is less successful than if you use soil.
Take the cuttings in the same way as described above. Next, fill a glass container with distilled water and place the cuttings there.
Put the container in a shady place. Change the water once a week or more often. This is to keep the cuttings from getting moldy.
After a while, the roots will appear. Wait until the roots are at least 2 inches long before transplanting them into the soil.
Rooting in water does not have good results because the cuttings rot quickly. Using sterile potting soil or other propagation methods is much preferable.