Must be a Magnolia! (Magnolia grandiflora from seed)

Must be a Magnolia! (Magnolia grandiflora from seed)

Last year I spotted a little plant coming up in one of my garden beds. I left it alone to grow as I had a suspicion about what it wasn’t but still couldn’t quite remember what seeds I planted in that location. This spring has brought me confirmation – it must be a magnolia! A year ago last fall I tried an experiment. I took the seeds from a magnolia cone and separated them. Then I planted them outdoors in a garden bed just off our deck. I didn’t give them any extra care and I only planted 8 magnolia seeds. The little magnolia began growing last spring and I left it sitting in it’s temporary home to grow a little larger. At the time the leaves looked very much like that of a cherry laurel which I also planted nearby as seeds – or so I thought (I really can’t remember if I did for sure). Yesterday after an inspection I’m positive that it’s a baby magnolia. The size of the leaves matches a magnolia and the underside veining looks very much like a magnolia even if the leaf still hasn’t fully developed its characteristic waxy coating.

Magnolia Seedling that needs saved from mint.

It isn’t one of the deciduous magnolias because I remember where I got it – the box store parking lot!  I was waiting in the car for my wife while she shopped and saw the magnolia seeds just sitting there on the ground in front of us. I picked up the seed treated it, planted it, and now we have our own southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). Now here’s what baffles me – why would you plant a Southern Magnolia in the parking lot of a store? Magnolias get huge. We’re talking 30-40 feet around and up to 90 feet tall. Theoretically it could be a smaller version like ‘Little Gem’ but one source I read said that ‘Little Gem’ was sterile (In my magnolia seed starting post I mentioned that it was a ‘Little Gem’ but I think now I’m mistaken). There may be some other varieties that are smaller in size yet capable of producing seeds but I won’t claim to be a magnolia expert. Do you have any suggestions on what variety it could be?


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Please keep us informed of it's growth & the info of it when you find it out.

  2. surprises are so great when we forget about a planting or a plant self-sows unexpectedly. Congratulations to the proud mama.

  3. This is very exciting Dave! I wonder about some of the plantings I see around stores and parking lots too…

  4. Nice article! Magnolias are wonderful trees, especially in the South. They bring back a lot of fond memories from childhood for me. The city I live in has several large, and ancient magnolias growing in the lawn at our city hall alongside some Ginkgos dating back to the time right after the Civil War.

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