The Q&A Archives: Plant Propagation

Question: I tried to grow an African tulip tree with a stem cutting but didn't have any luck. How can I do better next time?

Answer: Cuttings from Magnolia's can take from one to two years to root, so perhaps you didn't give yours enough time to develop roots. Cuttings require bottom heat and a humid environment, and need to be slit along the outside of the cutting before being dipped in rooting hormone, placed in potting soil, and kept at 70F degrees. An easier method to propagate a Magnolia is by layering. Simply bend a branch down until one of the stems reaches the soil. Make a nick in the outer covering of the stem and hold the injury open with a toothpick. Then bury the injured section of the stem in the soil, and anchor both sides with a bent piece of wire (an old coathanger does a good job). Make sure you keep the soil moist, but not soggy wet. It will take a year or two, but roots should develop at the site of the injury, and new growth should start to sprout. When you're sure it's rooted, cut the stem closest to the parent plant and pot up or transplant your new little tree.

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