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Glossy Abelia

(Abelia x grandiflora)

Gracefully arching branches with small evergreen to semi-evergreen leaves and clusters of delicate mid- to late-summer flowers make this a fine-textured shrub. Leaves are dark green sometimes tinged with maroon in summer, turning bronzy-red in winter. The pinkish-white flowers begin developing in early summer and continue till frost. Habit is multi-stemmed and dense. Mature size is 3 to 6 feet high and wide, but it usually grows taller in the South. Zones 6 to 9. Treat as an herbacious perennial in Zone 5.

How to use it: In masses, on banks and as hedges. Looks good with other broadleaf evergreens — for example, giving a pleasant textural effect against the stiffer hollies.

Cultivation: Give abelia a moist, well-drained acid soil in partial shade to full sun. Given those conditions, abelia usually requires little care. A full-grown hedge, unpruned except for the occasional wild branches and routine thinning, can be quite lush and beautiful. To maintain vitality and reduce density, remove a third of the old wood in late winter, cutting each can at the base. Less than perfect conditions can lead to legginess, so prune back for a bushier shrub.

'Sherwood' in spring (Photo by Marie Hofer)

Notable Cultivars

'Sherwood' — Height is 3 to 3-1/2 feet high and 4 to 4-1/2 wide. Leaves are smaller than the species and turn dark purplish-green in winter. Flowers are slightly more pinkish than those of the species. Semi-evergreen in USDA Zone 6.

'Sunrise' — Leaves are edged in creamy yellow to gold, turning orange, yellow and red in fall. Mature height is about three feet.

Abelia 'Edward Goucher' — The result of a cross between A. x grandiflora and A. schumannii, the leaves are lustrous green and the flowers are lavender to rosy-pink. Mature height is five feet high and wide.

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