The Q&A Archives: Lilac and Magnolia tree seeds

Question: I have a lilac tree first year about a foot tall and the leaves are curling is there someyhing that I need to do? Next question our magnolia tree has seed pods on tham what do I need to dowith them to plant them or what.

Answer: Magnolia seeds can be germinated and each will grow into a tree. Here's how:

Seeds should be sown in a fresh state, and not allowed to dry out. Remove the seeds just before the pod bursts open or immediately after.

Remove the red-orange coating. This can be done more easily if you soak them in water for a day.

Squeeze out the hard, black seeds and wash them in dishwashing liquid to remove the oily coating that prevents them from absorbing moisture.

In warm climates, you may have to put them through a "stratification" process, which entails putting cleaned seeds in with a mixture of peat and sand or vermiculite and store them in a labeled plastic bag in the refrigerator between 35 ? and 37 ? for two months.

Be sure not to let your seeds dry out either way you plant them.

In colder climates, you may not be able to pot them outside. Place the seeds in a bag containing a damp, sterile medium such as peat or grit, seal and label and put in the refrigerator at about 40 ?. In February, sow the seeds under glass at temperatures of 64-68 ?.

Sow in a light compost of two parts peat, one part loam and one part sand. Don't let the seeds dry out. Cover with 1/2" of compost. Cover the tray or pot to maintain moisture and protect the seed. They should germinate in about four weeks. Pot them after about four weeks, making sure the roots don't dry out.

You can plant them outdoors in the spring.

Curling leaves on a lilac can indicate a fungal disease, water stress or be signs of leafminer feeding. I'd rake up the fallen leaves later in the season and watch the plant for signs of stress next spring. Be sure it gets a deep soaking once each week during the growing season.

Best wishes with your garden!

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