Little Gem Magnolia Vs Teddy Bear: What Is The Difference Between Them? (2023)

There are many different magnolias, and every year the number of new varieties increases. It seems that hybridizers want to achieve some invisible goal. But whatever the case, some varieties do not lose their appeal decades after they were born.

The main difference between Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear Magnolia is that Magnolia Little Gem is higher (15-25 ft) and narrower than Magnolia Teddy Bear (15-20 ft). Teddy Bear Magnolia creates a lowerand wider (10-12 ft) canopy while Little Gem Magnolia is more pyramidal (8-10 ft). Also, Little Gem has a longer flowering period than Teddy Bear which is an absolute advantage of the former. In addition, the leaves of Magnolia Little Gem are elongated while those of Teddy Bear Magnolia are wider and oval in shape.

Magnolia Little Gem was obtained by seedling selection in the 1950s at a North Carolina nursery. The origin story of Magnolia Teddy Bear is lost to time, one thing is certain that it has another name, Magnolia grandiflora Southern Charm.

Magnolia Teddy BearMagnolia Little Gem
USDA Hardiness zone7-97-9
Mature height15-20 ft (4.5-6 m)15-25 ft (4.5-7.5 m)
Mature width10-12 ft (3-3.6 m)8-10 ft (2.4-3 m)
Growth rateslowmedium
Flowers size8” across8” across
Leaf size5” long and 3” wide5” long and 2” wide
Rebloomingyes (fall)yes (late summer, fall, early winter)
Light exposureFull sun, partial shadeFull sun, partial shade
Soilmoist, drainedmoist, drained
Soil pH6.2-7.06.4-7.3
WateringOne time per week in a droughtOne time per week in a drought

Little Gem Magnolia Vs Teddy Bear: What Is The Difference Between Them? (1)

Magnolia Teddy Bear and Magnolia Little Gem

Blooming is different

The flowering of these two amazing magnolias, although similar, still has several significant differences.

The first is the shade of the flowers. Their flower size is about the same – 8 inches across. The color of the petals is white. But Teddy Bear has a creamy white color while Little Gem is grayish-white. The difference is not significant but if you look at the flowers up close you will see the difference.

The second is the flowering period. The first time both varieties bloom is in the spring. Then comes the heat of summer and they drop the flowers. The first one to re-bloom is Little Gem, which starts in late summer and can last the whole fall and even early December. Teddy Bear blooms once more in early fall and that’s it.

(Video) Little Gem vs. Teddy Bear Magnolia Trees

Besides, both the first and second blooms of Little Gem last longer than Teddy Bear. This means you get a longer flowering period if you choose Little Gem.

Lastly, Little Gem blooms with more flowers than its competitor. The difference isn’t huge but noticeable.

At this stage of the contest, Little Gem gets an unconditional victory.

Teddy Bear is wider

The next thing that separates these two varieties is their growth habit. They are medium-sized trees that are pyramidal in shape but still have differences.

Little Gem is 15-20 feet tall, under ideal conditions (in warm climates) it can reach as high as 25 feet. It usually grows no more than 10 feet wide. Which means it has a more elongated (narrower) shape.

Under similar conditions, the Teddy Bear will not reach more than 20 feet in height. But it can easily reach 10 or even 12 feet wide. It follows that it has a more broadly pyramidal growth habit.

Besides, the growth rate is also slightly different. Little Gem grows a little faster than Teddy Bear.

From all of the above in this chapter, it follows that if you want a tree with a wider canopy for shade then choose Teddy Bear. And if you want to get a beautiful flowering tree quickly, Little Gem is a good choice.

Leaves have several differences

The last difference is the leaves. Each variety has a few peculiarities in the appearance of the leaves and these together make the foliage not the same.

Teddy Bear leaves are 5 inches long and 3 inches wide. The shape is oblong-oval. Little Gem has a narrower leaf 5 inches long and 2 inches wide. The broader leaves of the former have a slightly prettier appearance.

(Video) 🌳Teddy Bear® Southern Magnolia / Fragrant Evergreen Native

The next is a brown fuzz on the backside of the leaf. Little Gem has a very tiny light brown fluff, it is almost impossible to see it, only by touching it can you feel it. Teddy Bear has a more pronounced fuzz that looks almost like fur. Besides, the brown color is much more intense.

As a result, Teddy Bear has a sharp contrast between the upper green part of the leaf and the lower deep brown. Little Gem can’t offer the same effect. Also, Teddy Bear’s leaves are a little darker, which gives them more solidity.

Little Gem Magnolia Vs Teddy Bear: What Is The Difference Between Them? (2)

Little Gem Magnolia


Next, we will talk about what these two magnolias have in common. Although even here there are small differences that do not deserve a separate chapter, so be sure to read all of the following so as not to miss any information that will help choose a plant.


The first thing they have in common is the scent. Many homeowners choose magnolias because their smell is very pleasant and attracts bees and other insects, so the garden is filled with life.

Both of these varieties have a strong scent that can be felt from afar. It can be described as sweet.

Little Gem has a slight advantage here with a longer flowering time and you will enjoy its scent for a longer time.

Little Gem Magnolia Vs Teddy Bear: What Is The Difference Between Them? (3)

Magnolia Little Gem and Magnolia Teddy Bear

(Video) Comparing a Teddybear Magnolia and a Southern Magnolia ( 2019 )

Growing conditions

Both Teddy Bear and Little Gem are considered not demanding plants, but there are still some conditions that you need to follow.

The first is the climate. It has been proven that they can grow in the 7 through 9 USDA hardiness zones. Some nurseries recommend growing them in zone 10a, but there’s no clear indication that this is possible. In fact, magnolias can be uncomfortable in hotter climates so you run a risk if you plant them south of zone 9 or north of zone 7.

The next thing is sun exposure. Exactly what you shouldn’t do is put these trees in a lot of shade. You have to give them at least 6 hours of direct sun per day. In zone 7, the amount of sun can be more (8 hours). For part of the day they can stay in the shade. Also Teddy Bear requires slightly less light than Little Gem.

But both of these plants will grow fine in full sun as well. In this case, they will even have richer leaf color and bloom more abundantly.

Humidity is not the most important factor in the successful cultivation of magnolias. Both of these varieties will grow well in both humid and dry climates. The only thing not to do is to place them in a very humid location with poor air circulation, as this can result in leaf spotting.


Once magnolias are established in your garden, they can tolerate a little drought. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need watering at all. Both of today’s guests need enough water to thrive and have beautiful flowers.

Watering is especially important in the first 2-3 years after you plant them in your garden. You need to water magnolias once or twice a week during the summer drought. The amount of water should be at least 1 gallon. In severe drought conditions, the amount of water should be increased to 2 or even 3 gallons.

In spring and fall, the soil moisture is usually high so watering is not necessary. But if the weather is dry and the ground is more than an inch dry, water the plants with enough water to keep the soil around them moist.

(Video) Little Gem Magnolia - Fragrant Evergreen Dwarf Tree

In the winter, don’t water magnolias because they are dormant and excess moisture can cause roots to rot.

In addition to timely watering, you should also mulch the surface around the magnolias. This will reduce the speed of drying the substrate. Good quality compost works best as mulch. A layer of mulch should be at least 2 inches. Do not bury the tree trunk in the mulch, as this can cause it to rot.


Whether you choose Little Gem or Teddy Bear, they both tolerate most types of soil well. But I would still recommend the best conditions possible.

The ideal soil for magnolias is a loose and nutritious substrate that does not dry out too quickly but does not have water stagnation.

To get such a soil mixture you have to mix 50% of the native soil in the planting hole with some quality compost, which I recommend use for mulching. That’s it, with such soil you will get generously flowering magnolias in your garden.

But to replenish their strength after blooming profusely, magnolias need a dose of fertilizer. It is best if you use fertilizer in the form of pellets that release slowly throughout the season. The fertilizer should have equal amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

Little Gem Magnolia Vs Teddy Bear: What Is The Difference Between Them? (4)

Magnolia Teddy Bear

Magnolia Teddy Bear and Magnolia Little Gem have similar problems

Each of these magnolias is considered a hardy plant and health problems rarely arise. However, it does sometimes happen and you need to know what to do in this case.

(Video) About Magnolia Teddy Bear

The first thing you may encounter is verticillium wilt. It is a disease that affects the branches and leaves of the magnolia. To avoid this, you must always use sterile tools when working on the plant. Magnolia should grow in a sunny location with good air movement, I’ve already written about this in more detail above.

It’s also possible to get infected by various fungus spores you might notice as spots on the leaves. All this can be treated by spraying fungicides.

The second is pests. The most common pests are scale. It is not easy enough to get out, only regular spraying with horticultural oil will help to solve the problem. It is also possible to be infested by other insects. In extreme cases, you can use more effective insecticides.


What is the difference between magnolia Teddy Bear and Little Gem? ›

The 'Teddy Bear' magnolia is a slightly smaller version of 'Little Gem,' but with bigger flowers. It grows 15- to 20-feet tall and 10 feet wide and is hardy to USDA Zone 7. This is my #1 choice for small gardens.

Why is it called a teddy bear magnolia? ›

Magnolia grandiflora 'Southern Charm'

This tight growth habit makes it suitable for smaller gardens, screens, avenues, and specimens, as well as large planters and containers. Teddybear leaves are deep green, glossy above with a dense reddish-brown fur on the underside, thus the Teddybear name.

What is the prettiest magnolia? ›

Considered one of the most beautiful Magnolias, Magnolia denudata is a large deciduous shrub or small tree. Upright and cup-shaped when borne, its creamy to ivory white flowers gracefully open their 9-12 tepals as they mature, resembling lilies.

How big is a Teddy Bear magnolia? ›

Magnolia 'Teddy Bear' is a relatively small and compact Magnolia, growing only to 4-6m. It is usually a very dense grower and will bloom on and off right through the year.

Which magnolia tree is the smallest? ›

Little Gem Magnolia

This evergreen magnolia tree is a dwarf version of the Southern Magnolia. It only grows to about 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide, whereas its mom can grow over 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide!

Are Little Gem magnolias messy? ›

You could also try planting a Little Gem Magnolia, also known as the dwarf Southern magnolia. It will still create the same mess as its larger relative, but on a much smaller scale.

What is Magnolia Little Gem? ›

This is a lovely tree which flowers from an early age, producing beautiful creamy white, saucer shaped flowers in spring and summer. Leaves are a classic glossy deep green colour with furry brown undersides forming a nice compact evergreen tree with a dense covering of foliage.

How long do Magnolia teddy bear flowers last? ›

Beautiful fragrant white flowers bloom from early spring through to the end of summer. The long flowering season helps to control plant size and the natural compact shape which make this variety suitable for pots. This stunning tree is a great feature in any size garden.

Is Teddy Bear magnolia a hybrid? ›

As a relatively new hybrid Magnolia, the Teddy Bear provides for a consistent formed formal look with rounder leaves and with lemon scented flowers of 15-20cm from late spring through summer.

What is the most popular magnolia? ›

'Jane' Magnolia

This widely popular deciduous magnolia makes a large, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree, and is ideal as a specimen lawn tree.

What is the best magnolia for a small garden? ›

Magnolia stellata is one of the best for really small gardens. As the name suggests, it has star-shaped flowers, formed of strap-shaped petals. Plants are bushy and will grow slowly up to about 3m (10ft) tall.

How tall does magnolia little gem? ›

The Magnolia Little Gem is a beautiful and compact evergreen feature tree and the most well known Magnolia variety. The Little Gem is perfect for for use in pots and in-ground planting where it will grow to 2-3m in height.

Which magnolia blooms the longest? ›

'Little Gem' magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem') is known for its beautiful, large white blooms that last for six months out of the year.

Are Teddy Bear magnolias messy? ›

Litter Problems

The flowers also shed a lot of petals while blooming and the seed pods fall to the ground in late summer. Avoid planting a Teddy Bear magnolia around high-traffic outdoor areas, such as around patios, decks or pools, where the litter might become a major nuisance.

Which magnolia is fastest growing? ›

Which Magnolia Tree Is The Fastest Growing? Of all of the magnolia trees you can plant throughout your yard, it's the Ssouthern magnolia that grows the fastest. Southern magnolia trees grow up to two feet per year, topping out the magnolia species growth rate.

Can Little Gem magnolia be kept small? ›

It's one of the evergreens and its compact, more diminutive stature makes it ideal for smaller spaces – some people have had success with planting their Little Gems in containers, even.

Can you keep magnolia little gem small? ›

Should you be looking to keep your little gem magnolia very small, it is recommended to prune regularly during the first few years of growth. This will train your little gem into a smaller shape.

How fast does a Teddy Bear magnolia grow? ›

How fast do Teddy Bear Magnolias Grow? This tree is fairly fast-growing, climbing 1 foot each year until it reaches its mature height of 20 feet.

What are the cons of magnolia trees? ›

Its shallow roots spread wide and can cause damage to sidewalks and driveways; if relocated during construction, a magnolia will undergo significant damage and likely die.

Do Little Gem magnolia trees have invasive roots? ›

The roots of Little Gem Magnolia have a characteristic of wide-spreading, stretching from trunk to a span of four times the umbrella diameter but they're non-invasive.

Which is the hardiest magnolia? ›

Magnolias for large gardens

Magnolia sieboldii or the Chinese magnolia is a very hardy, deciduous species. The scented flowers are cup-shaped and large with deep maroon centres. They have a long flowering season from May to September and the foliage is attractive and glossy.

What does a Teddy Bear magnolia look like? ›

Magnolia Teddy Bear features a very compact and naturally neat cone shaped habit. Solid, glossy, dark green leaves have beautiful copper undersides and give depth to the overall density of the plant. Teddy Bear has beautiful, fragrant, creamy white flowers during the Summer and Autumn period.

What is the difference between a Southern Magnolia and a little gem magnolia? ›

The original southern magnolia, which can grow 60 feet tall and be 20 to 30 feet across, is too large for many gardens, while the Little Gem, as its name suggests, stays much smaller and more compact, growing to between 12 and 25 feet tall and only 6 to 8 feet across.

How long does it take for a little gem magnolia to mature? ›

'Little Gem' is a dwarf cultivar of the Southern Magnolia and it can potentially grow to heights of 25-30 feet with a spread of 10 to 12 feet. Another advantage the 'Little Gem', besides size, is it flowers within two to three years whereas the parent may take up to twelve years to produce flowers.

Can you keep Teddy Bear magnolias small? ›

Due to the dense foliage, the limbs can become very heavy, so prune "Teddy Bear" annually during midsummer to late summer after the tree finishes flowering. Thinning out the crown and reducing limb weight can help increase air flow through the plant and enhance its appearance.

How long do little gem magnolia flowers last? ›

The Little Gem is recognized for its prolific flowering that lasts 6 months of the year, which lasts from May through October. It can flower in two to three years. The Little Gem Magnolia produces large fragrant creamy white saucer shaped flowers that are 8 inches wide.

Why is my Teddy Bear magnolia not flowering? ›

The main reasons being are: - Inadequate light. Magnolias flower best with at least 3-4 hours direct sunlight. - Nutrient balance: Excess high nitrogen fertiliser.

What age do Teddy Bear magnolias flower? ›

Dwarf (2m) evergreen Magnolia grandiflora 'Teddy Bear' is ideal for a pot, and should start flowering from its third year's growth.

Is magnolia a messy tree? ›

Southern Magnolia

We know, we know: Everyone loves a magnolia. But hear us out: Many magnolias grow far too big for the average yard. Leaf drop happens year-round, which means that the addition of a magnolia ups the messy-yard factor significantly.

Where is the best place to plant magnolia? ›

Magnolias prefer a spot in the garden that receives full sun to light shade. That said, if you live in a particularly warm or dry climate, your magnolia might benefit from a location shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

What is so special about magnolia? ›

The Magnolia is often symbolic of high status, nobility, perseverance, and dignity. Commonly used in wedding bouquets, they also tend to represent the purity and dignity of the bride. The tree itself is often a symbol of strength and magnificence because of its towering stature and abundant blooms.

How far should you plant a little gem magnolia tree from a house? ›

Determining how far from your home you should plant a magnolia tree is no easy feat. However, it's best to measure about 50 feet away from your house to ensure you don't run into trouble as the tree matures.

Which magnolia smells the best? ›

10 Best Magnolia Perfumes
  • Best Seductive:Philosophy Amazing Grace Magnolia. ...
  • Best Long-Lasting:Jennifer Aniston J Spray. ...
  • Best Intoxicating:A-ScentRomantic Magnolia Eau De Parfum. ...
  • Best Refreshing:Bvlgari Splendida Magnolia Sensuel Eau De Parfum. ...
  • Best Spicy-Oriental:Moschino Women Eau De Toilette Spray.
4 Oct 2022

Where should you not plant a magnolia tree? ›

Summer Shade

Because evergreens do not drop their foliage, do not plant magnolia trees directly south of the house or close enough to block the sunlight during the winter. Trees provide optimum shade when planted at least 20 feet from the home and at the southwest corner.

Can you cut the top off a little gem magnolia? ›

If you want to trim Little Gem, particularly if you're planning to shape it into an espalier, it's best to prune it when it's young. Older trees require more extensive pruning cuts, which are slower to heal than smaller ones.

Can Little Gem magnolia be planted next to house? ›

It can be planted almost anywhere there's sunshine - even fairly close to the house. And its compact, upright form makes it an excellent specimen tree for a small yard. If you prefer a larger, more stately tree, consider the D. D. Blanchard magnolia.

How much does a little gem magnolia tree cost? ›

Little Gem Magnolia TreeMagnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' $109.95.

What magnolia blooms twice a year? ›

Yes, magnolia trees can bloom twice a year, but it is not common. Some varieties can bloom once in early spring and once in late summer. Chinese or Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) varieties are the ones that most often bloom twice.

What is the rarest magnolia? ›

Magnolia zenii is the rarest Magnolia in the Garden and IUCN red-listed as critically endangered, only a few dozen of these plants were found when they were discovered in China in 1931. Courtesy photo.

Is Little Gem magnolia evergreen? ›

The Little Gem Magnolia tree is an excellent choice for the southern landscape and beyond. This versatile, flowering evergreen provides exciting year-round curb appeal.

How big does a Magnolia Little Gem get? ›

The little gem magnolia grows to a height of 15–20' and a spread of 7–10' at maturity.

What are Teddy Bear magnolias? ›

The Teddy Bear Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora 'Southern Charm') is a very compact, upright grower that produces large fragrant white flowers in the early summer that are accented by its glossy, dark green foliage.

Is a little gem the same as southern magnolia? ›

'Little Gem' is a much smaller (dwarf) and slower-growing cultivar of the Southern magnolia or Large tree magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) that typically grows as a compact, upright, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree to 20' tall over the first 20 years.

How long do magnolia Teddy Bear flowers last? ›

Beautiful fragrant white flowers bloom from early spring through to the end of summer. The long flowering season helps to control plant size and the natural compact shape which make this variety suitable for pots. This stunning tree is a great feature in any size garden.

What is the best magnolia plant? ›

If you are on the hunt for an outstanding, elegant specimen tree, you can't go wrong with this Magnolia Black Tulip tree. As the darkest and most dramatic variety of Magnolia, it produces deep burgundy red blooms of six inches long before the foliage emerges in early spring.


1. The Teddybear Magnolia
2. Magnolia 'Teddy Bear'
(Brookfield Gardens)
3. Teddy Bear Southern Magnolia
(Tallahassee Nurseries)
4. Super Plant, Little Gem magnolia, has advantages over other magnolias
(LSU AgCenter)
5. Dwarf Magnolia Varieties
6. Little Gem Magnolia update and what I regret
(Nate Moyer)
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