Teddy Bear Southern Magnolia Shines In and Out of Bloom

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Virtues: Teddy Bear is an upright evergreen magnolia perfectly suited to smaller spaces because it grows just 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It provides year-round beauty through its foliage, plus a gorgeous spring and summer show of large, fragrant flowers. It also takes well to life in a large container.

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Teddy Bear magnolia was named to the Oklahoma Proven list of outstanding plants in 2021. Faculty in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture evaluate plants and highlight those that cope exceedingly well with the difficult and changeable conditions found across the Sooner State. Each year, the program shines a light on one tree, shrub, perennial and annual that can succeed there with little input, making for successful and environmentally friendly gardens. Find more at http://www.oklahomaproven.org.

Common name: Teddy Bear southern magnolia

Botanical name: Magnolia grandiflora 'Southern Charm' or Teddy Bear

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

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Flowers: Beginning in late spring, profuse, lemon-scented, white flowers open to a width of 6 to 8 inches. Flowering can continue through summer into fall.

Foliage: The shiny, deep green leaves are retained all year long. The underside of each leaf is covered in a coppery red felt; the shrub's height and the upright stance of its branches makes this side of the uppermost leaves visible, adding interesting visual texture.

Habit: Teddy Bear magnolia is a woody evergreen that grows 16 to 20 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide, with a narrow pyramidal shape. It will naturally grow as a shrub, with branch coverage close to the ground, but it can be pruned to resemble a small tree. This magnolia makes a nice specimen planted alone, or multiple shrubs can be used as a screen.

Origin: Magnolia grandiflora is native to coastal areas of the Southeast region of the United States. 'Southern Charm' is a compact selection discovered by Bob Head of South Carolina in 1985. It was introduced to the trade under the name Teddy Bear by Garden Debut.

How to grow it: Provide this southern magnolia a spot in full sun or part shade and rich, evenly moist soil with good drainage. A site in full sun will promote the densest growth. When planting any southern magnolia be sure to set the top of the rootball even with or slightly above the soil line; this plant is sensitive to deep planting. It will require watering during its first season if rainfall is scarce and in high heat; in later years it can withstand some drought. Mulch around the magnolia but be careful not to pile mulch against the trunk. The compact size of Teddy Bear magnolia means pruning is seldom necessary; however if you wish to prune it do so in midsummer. USDA Zones 7–9.

Image credits: 

Tree: courtesy of Garden Debut

Flower: public domain