Magnolia Little Gem vs Teddy Bear

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
October 25, 2023
Magnolia Tree

Sprucing up your yard is both an art and a challenge. It’s about choosing plants that not only complement each other but also resonate with your personal style. Two of the myriad choices stand out as true landscape champions: the Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear. 

Both bring vitality and vibrant hues, yet picking one over the other can be perplexing. So, read on because this guide offers a deep dive into the enchanting world of Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear, helping you make an informed gardening choice.

Popularity of magnolias in landscaping

Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear have become increasingly significant choices among gardening enthusiasts due to their unique traits that stand distinctively against other varieties of magnolias. These types impress on many levels: captivating blossoms, remarkable robustness, low-maintenance nature, and compact structures conducive to both small garden spaces and larger landscapes alike.

In essence, these magnificent trees promote visual splendour and create beautiful privacy barriers outdoors without demanding extensive grooming procedures or exhaustive upkeep practices in return – which effortlessly explains why they enjoy such popularity!

Magnolia Little Gem analysis

When discussing the magnolia little gem, I can’t help but get carried away by its arresting beauty. This elegant variety stands out with unique features that enchant gardening enthusiasts worldwide.

Little Gem Magnolia

Size, shape, and colour of leaves

The glossy, dark-green leaves of the magnolia little gem are considerably large for a small tree, typically measuring from 10 to 20 centimetres in length. 

The characteristic shape of these elliptical leaves gives off an ambience of lush grandeur due to their formidable leathery texture. Another captivating aspect is the contrasting colour — their undersides don a bright rust shade, which dynamically plays with light and provides splendid visual interest throughout the year.

Description of flowers

Undoubtedly, one wouldn’t overlook mentioning delightful flowers when discussing such an enchanting plant. Each spring and summer, your eyes would be thrilled by white as snow blooms, standing majestically against those vibrant green leaves. Resembling overgrown tulips or unearthly lotuses in full bloom, each flower reaches up to 25 centimetres across at maturity.

These aromatic beauties pleasure our vision and enthral us with their deep, lemony citrus scent wafting smoothly through the air. Indeed, they play an invaluable contribution to creating a serene atmosphere that offers therapeutic relaxation in your garden space.

Growth habit and form of the tree

Talk about adaptability! This gorgeous magnolia variety’s growth habit is also its most precious selling point among homeowners worldwide. Growing up only between 4 to 12 metres high at maturity in a columnar or pyramidal shape, depending on pruning practices or natural development patterns, makes it an ideal fit for small yards or other limited spaces.

A trait worthy of applause about this evergreen magnolia is how easily it can thrive even under difficult conditions like restricted soil or partial sun exposure. It marches proudly all year round, enduring hot summers and frosty winters while staying green and glamorous, making it a top pick among other magnolia plant varieties.

Unique features

Beyond the immediately noticeable characteristics of the Magnolia Little Gem, this variety brings more to your garden than meets the eye. 

Some unique features include:

  • The dense form is ideal for privacy screening; its foliage acts as a natural barrier.
  • Highly favoured by garden enthusiasts for hedge use due to resilience and rapid growth.
  • Boasts night-blooming qualities, with moonlit white flowers showcasing a distinct beauty compared to daytime blooms.
  • A compact species, yet rich in captivating features that quickly win over gardeners.

Magnolia Teddy Bear analysis

The Magnolia Teddy Bear, also known as ‘Southern Charm’, is a popular magnolia variant often praised for its striking features and excellent adaptability in various environments across Australia.

Size, shape, and colour of leaves

Magnolia Teddy Bear has oval-shaped leaves that add drama to any landscape with their deep green colour on top and soft coppery-brown undertones beneath. These elliptical leaves typically grow from 8 to 15 centimetres long. 

They are renowned for their thick, leathery texture, making them robust against harsh weather conditions.

Interestingly enough, the leaf’s dense arrangement on compact branches gives the tree a fluffy appearance – akin to that of a teddy bear, hence its name. As such, this plant could make an impressive decorative addition to any home garden or public park.

Description of flowers

What truly sets the Magnolia Teddy Bear apart, though, besides its adorable name, is its bountiful and extravagant cream-coloured flowers. They possess a classic cup-shaped form with petals unfurling gracefully from the bud, giving off an invitingly sweet aroma that can transform your outdoor space into an idyllic paradise during blossoming periods.

Additionally, they boast an appealing contrast against the vibrant foliage, thus becoming a visual marvel when in full bloom. This flowering marvel usually happens twice yearly – once in late spring and another towards the end of summer.

Growth habit and form of the tree

In terms of growth habits, compared to other forms like the magnolia Little Gem Perth or Magnolias Brisbane, this evergreen magnolia showcases more restrained growth patterns. It matures gradually into a compact pyramid shape, reaching about four metres in height and two metres wide at most over ten years.

The moderate growing pace allows it to suit smaller spaces without overwhelming other plants or demanding frequent pruning. Thanks to this, it’s highly sought after as a hedge magnolia or for creating continuous boundaries in smaller gardens and landscapes.

Unique features

The Magnolia Teddy Bear stands out not just for its beauty but also for its adaptability and resilience.

Here are some of its unique features that we enjoy:

  • Versatility to thrive in both full sun and partial shade, ideal for regions with irregular sunlight patterns.
  • Excellent adaptability to various soil conditions, including clay, loamy, or sandy soils, with a need for proper drainage.
  • It has less susceptibility to pests, making it one of the hardiest magnolia varieties.
  • Enhances garden spaces with charm, aiding in making informed decisions between magnolia varieties.

Comparison: Magnolia Little Gem vs Teddy Bear


The Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear varieties share several captivating similarities:

  • Family origin: Both magnolias hail from the same botanical family.
  • Evergreen leaves boast nearly identical leaves that remain vibrant throughout the year.
  • Floral blooms: Both feature large, stunning white flowers blooming in spring or summer with a delightful fragrance.
  • Growth habit: Each magnolia showcases a cone-shaped growth pattern, enhancing landscape aesthetics.
  • Growth rate: Despite size differences, both are slow-growing, offering similar visuals for extended periods.


The Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear varieties offer unique characteristics, making them choices for garden enthusiasts. 

Here’s a breakdown of their key differences:

  • Size at maturity: Teddy Bear grows up to 4 metres, while Little Gem can reach 7-8 metres.
  • Leaf characteristics: Both have green tops and rusty undersides. Little Gem has elongated leaves, and Teddy Bear has broad ovate leaves.
  • Leaf density: Teddy Bear has dense foliage for privacy, whereas Little Gem is more open-branched.
  • Bloom shape: Both have white blooms; Little Gem’s are classic magnolia-shaped, while Teddy Bear’s petals curve inwards.

In summary, while both Magnolia variations are magnificent in their own right, understanding their similarities and differences will guide gardeners in selecting the perfect tree based on personal preferences and garden needs.

Which is better: Magnolia Little Gem or Teddy Bear?

Both of these magnolia variants are evergreen, providing year-round foliage coverage. Hence, they are both excellent options if you’re looking for hedge magnolias that provide privacy regardless of the season. Nevertheless, one may still wonder: between the Magnolia Little Gem vs Teddy Bear – which one stands out? 

Firstly, when considering sizes, the Teddy Bear magnolia size tends to be smaller than the Little Gem variant. If you have limited space in your garden or wish for more manageable growth ratios, it might warrant concluding that the Teddy Bear might suit this scenario better than its slightly larger relative. For homeowners based in Perth who favour modest-sized plants due to residential spacing confines, there may be better options than choosing ‘Magnolia Little Gem Perth’, owing largely to their grand sizes.

However, this does not necessarily mean that the Magnolia Little Gem loses out. One standout feature that makes it competitive is its considerably faster-growing nature against its Teddy Bear cousin – otherwise known as Australia’s fastest-growing Magnolia variant among many gardening enthusiasts.

Thus, anyone wishing to quickly fill up wider spaces with lush greenery while incorporating elements of charm and elegance into their landscapes should consider employing this particular magnolia variety.

So, looping back to our initial question, the answer depends largely on your unique circumstances. Your choice should align best with the specifics of your garden or landscaping project while also considering factors such as space availability and time-to-maturity enjoyed.

Landscaping uses for both varieties

Each magnolia variety serves different purposes when incorporated into landscapes. However, a few common uses set apart these magnificent species from other trees. 

  1. Specimen trees: Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear serve remarkably as standalone trees due to their large, leathery leaves and elegant blooms, adding instant glamour to any setting.
  2. Boarders: You can plant them along borders or driveway edges, forming an alluring burst of foliage highlighted by stunning white flowers.
  3. Shade: While serving aesthetic functions, these magnolias provide pleasant summer shade with dense leaf structure.

The hybrid “Teddy Bear” is more amenable to pot cultivation than most other sized-right evergreen magnolias, including the “Little Gem”. It retains its compact shape and small size much better, making it ideal if you are looking to persuade your outdoor space into something straight out of home decor catalogues! 

Tie all this with the not-so-demanding care requirements that both these varieties entail – you get a winner!

Growing and maintenance tips for Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear

Understanding the basics of maintaining your magnolias goes a long way in ensuring they thrive, maximising their vibrant beauty. Here’s what you need to know about care details for both the Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear species.

Ideal planting location and soil requirements

Little Gems and Teddy Bears prefer sunny locations – although they can also tolerate partial shade. It’s worth noting that these trees grow well when planted where the morning sun will help dry dew off their leaves, reducing the likelihood of diseases like leaf spot. Ensure they are protected from harsh afternoon sunlight to avoid leaf scorch.

Meanwhile, soil requirements for both these magnificent magnolia plant varieties are relatively straightforward. They thrive best in well-draining soils with a pH range of 5.0-6.5, often enriched with organic matter or compost before planting to boost growth spurts.

Watering needs and frequency

Watering forms an essential part of your care routine, especially during the first few years after planting magnolias in Brisbane landscapes or wherever they may be grown in Australia. During this growth period, watering deeply once per week under normal weather conditions is advisable.

However, watering frequency might change depending on climate variables and soil conditions. If your ground becomes incredibly dry in summer or experiences drought-like conditions, you should up your watering ante.

Pruning techniques

For either magnolia little gem or teddy bear, pruning for shape is optional due to their naturally compact shape. However, you should occasionally prune them for size control if there’s limited space. 

Always time pruning sessions appropriately; around late winter or early spring is ideal so as not to jeopardise bloom potential.

Whether you’re tackling a little gem magnolia Perth boasts of its gardens or elsewhere across Australia, it’s crucial only to prune sparingly unless attempting a significant size reduction. It typically involves light trimming branch tips or removing crossing branches that could become problematic.

Fertiliser recommendations

Fertilising properly is integral for your magnolia health. For optimal growth and beautiful blooming display, apply a slow-release fertiliser designed for acid-loving plants like Magnolias, ideally twice a year – once in early spring just before new growth commences and again in late summer.

The best fertiliser for magnolias within Australia generally contains an NPK ratio of 4-6-4 accompanied by necessary micronutrients, including iron and manganese. Always follow product instructions correctly when applying to avoid causing damage.

Remember, providing the right care helps you enjoy these evergreen beauties year-round, regardless of whether it’s a hedge magnolia setup or a standalone feature element in your garden.

Pests, diseases, and common issues with Magnolias

When discussing magnolia trees, whether Magnolia Teddy Bear or Little Gem, you can’t avoid the topic of potential problems they might face. A key part of responsible gardening is understanding these threats to tackle them effectively.

Common pests affecting magnolia trees

There’s no denying the beauty of a magnolia tree, but unfortunately, some pests are quite attracted to them as well. These nuisances include magnolia scale insects, tuliptree scales, and mealybugs.

  • Magnolia Scale Insects: Among the largest types of scale insects. They typically appear as grey-brown bumps on branches that may excrete honeydew—creating a perfect breeding ground for sooty mould.
  • Tuliptree Scales: Bigger than their magnolia scale counterparts, these pests are dark brown to black and round. Like the threat mentioned earlier, they discharge copious amounts of honeydew.
  • Mealybugs: Tiny pear-shaped creatures covered in wax. They are relatively easy to spot due to their white colour and the cotton-like residue they leave behind.


Like any other plant form, magnolias aren’t immune to diseases either. Their key enemies? Bacterial blight and verticillium wilt:

  • Bacterial Blight: This disease causes the wilting of blossoms and leaves and twig dieback over time. It occurs typically during damp weather conditions.
  • Verticillium Wilt: Resulting from fungal infection in the soil that invades plants’ roots – this disease leads to yellow discolouration between veins on lower limbs and leaf drop.

Tips for prevention & treatment Of common issues

Worried about these potential issues? Fear not! I’ve prepared some practical advice on how to prevent these threats and handle them if they do appear:

  1. Regular inspection: Make it a routine to check your trees for signs of pests or diseases, especially during the growing season.
  2. Proper watering: Overwatering promotes favourable conditions for bacterial blight. Instead, water magnolia plants at their base using drip irrigation, keeping leaves as dry as possible.
  3. Stay clean: Always clean gardening equipment to prevent the spread of pathogens.
  4. Pest control: If you spot pests such as scales or mealybugs, use horticultural oil or insecticidal soap sprays safe for magnolias.
  5. Fungal treatments: If verticillium wilt is detected, use appropriate anti-fungal treatments after consulting a horticulturist.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. The stronger and healthier your magnolia tree grows, the less likely it will be severely affected by these common issues! Keep yourself informed about pest control techniques and disease management. Indeed, taking care of a magnolia sets you on an exciting path towards becoming a true gardening guru!


Before concluding our Magnolia Little Gem vs Teddy Bear guide, let’s highlight their key features. Both are top picks for landscaping due to their striking foliage, blooms, and suitable size. 

The Little Gem is known for its glossy leaves, fragrant white flowers, and slim profile, ideal for tight spaces. In contrast, the Teddy Bear boasts a dense form, darker leaves, and better pest resistance. Your choice might hinge on personal taste or gardening needs. Proper planting, watering, and fertilisation ensure their optimal health. 

Regular checks for pests or diseases are crucial. Whichever you select, with care and patience, these magnolias will offer years of breathtaking blooms and elevate your garden’s allure. 



How fast does a magnolia tree grow?

A magnolia tree typically grows at a moderate rate, with most varieties adding around half a metrs annually.

Which magnolia is best in Australia?

In Australia, the Magnolia Little Gem and Teddy Bear are popular choices due to their adaptability to the climate and aesthetic appeal.

What will my Little Gem Magnolia look like as an adult?

As an adult, your Little Gem Magnolia will sport glossy green leaves, creamy white fragrant flowers, and can reach heights of 7-8 metres under optimal conditions.