Question: I started four magnolia plants from seed. They are now about two inches tall and in a sunny indoor location. Should they be transplanted outdoors in the spring?
-Feura Bush, NY
Answer: Because some magnolias develop a taproot, seeds should be started in individual pots in light compost (two parts peat, one part garden loam, and one part coarse builders' sand). Keep the seedlings shaded as the sunlight intensifies.
By mid-April the seedlings should be hardened off gradually by exposure to the outdoor environment. When the daily temperature is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit, place the seedlings outside in a sheltered spot, 15 minutes the first day, 30 minutes the second day, and so on. In late spring, when the weather is reliably warm, transplant them to a protected area. Protect the young magnolia plants with a wrapping of burlap their first winter outside.