Magnolia grandiflora ('BBB') 'BRACKEN'S BROWN BEAUTY'

Magnolia grandiflora ('BBB')
Magnolia grandiflora ('BBB') 'BRACKEN'S BROWN BEAUTY'
southern magnolia, bull bay
SIZE/TYPE taller shrub
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
BLOOMING TIME June - September
LOCATION full sun
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist (dislikes drought)
USDA zone (lowest) 5b   (down to -27°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Evergreen broadleaf
Summer blooms
náhled fotonáhled fotonáhled foto
This magnolia variety is actually the one that started it all. And this IT stands for the big bang called our nursery. In short I fell in love with southern magnolia when I visited England in late 1990’s and in spite of having being told many times that this tree was too tender for our Central European climate I was determined to find a variety that would make it through our winters. And you know that love conquers all obstacles so finally in 2002 I found a Belgian importer of large and ridiculously overpriced trees from the USA so I hit the road and went 1000 kilometers to check his plants. He had two varieties – Bracken’s Brown Beauty (BBB) and Edith Bogue. They were both almost 3 m tall in a 100 liter pot. Good looking, nicely pruned, reasonably bushy, BBB looked quite prettier to me as Edith Bogue was a bit too leggy. Still, standing there, in front of HARDY southern magnolias one of which could soon be mine, was a thrill. Each of them cost almost 3000 euros. I know what you think – I was crazy. I admit. Obviously, being an enthusiast in love, and longing for it for so long makes you go blind and deaf when the aim is in reach, so at that point I could not see clearly what kind of a swindler that seller was going to turn out later, but that is a different story and his karma. I just got one beautiful Bracken’s Brown Beauty magnolia which travelled to my country (The Czech Republic) and my garden only a few days later. So there she was, in my garden, in the best spot, properly planted, surviving the first winter with some foliage loss but once I learned how to handle her she became the queen of my garden. After radical fertilizing she produced all new leaves quickly and started flowering so heavily that almost everyone who visited asked for one, too, if available for a better price. So in the end I decided to get more at better prices and finished up setting up a small village nursery in my garden in 2005 which was such a success that only 4 years later, in 2009, we moved to Prague – our capital – where we set up a large garden centre selling beautiful plants on about 4 thousand square meters. And southern magnolia in many hardy varieties is evidently our flagship. Believe me, it is a love for the whole life.

Bracken’s Brown Beauty, commonly shortened to BBB, is one of the hardiest and reliable southern magnolias. It was selected as a chance seedling by Ray Bracken in his nursery in Easley in South Carolina, USA, in 1968. Further 15 years of vegetative propagation confirmed stable behaviour so in 1986 he decided to have it patented as a distinct new variety. The patent PP5520 is now expired and the plant is available for further propagation without license.

BBB magnolia is a compact and densely branched shrub or tree hardy to about -27°C. It has large, leathery, undulated, pointed, medium green, highly glossy as if sugar coated, evergreen leaves covered with rusty brown indumentums on the reverse. That is a protection against drying winds helping the plant cope with winter dehydration. Plants produced from cuttings bloom in their fifth or sixth year of age, grafted plants are much quicker – setting out the first flower bud in the second or third year. Flowers are immensely beautiful. Lotus-like, creamy white, strongly fragrant, they open for a couple of days only but quite profusely in June and July, and keep on showing up sporadically until September if early autumn is sunny and warm. Such a long blooming period was recorded only with Goliath magnolia. The 15-20 cm wide, white flower looks simply adorable sitting on the glossy, deep green background of lush foliage.

It naturally grows into a widely and typically magnolia-rounded, pyramidal-shaped shrub, or it can be trained into a tree. It needs no pruning to become bushy, moreover, pruning can damage flower buds which appear at the tips of mature twigs (usually from the previous year). Still if you need to cut for whatever reason do so in April before it emerges (in May).

Southern magnolia is very hungry. It needs acidic, fertile, reasonably drained but not purely sandy soil, clay in lower parts is beneficial. We strongly suggest using mycorrhizal fungi for its roots, they work miracles especially for large plants whom they help establish without any signs of defect. Now bring your attention to fertilizing, mostly importantly during its first three or four years after transplanting it needs regular feeding in order to keep all its foliage and to produce flowers freely. Use any sort of fertilizer for ericaceous plants and apply it according to instructions from May until late July. Keep the plant’s roots constantly moist during this period and don’t forget to water it also in winter when the ground is not frozen. Then it will fully establish and will not suffer from summer droughts and will not need extra feeding as its roots will be deep enough to find their own food. Choose only sunny locations, possibly with winter shade that may be welcome in areas with long-lasting winters. BBB is hardy to about -27°C (USDA zone 5b).

Last update 27-07-2016

Magnolia grandiflora
Magnolia grandiflora (
Magnolia grandiflora
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

This site uses cookies to provide services and traffic analysis - here you can find details. I use this site for further use of this site ACCEPT.