Abelia x grandiflora, often called Glossy Abelia, is a multi-stemmed, bush-like shrub with arching branches and studded with small, glossy, deep-green leaves which are evergreen to semi-evergreen. This fast-growing, dense shrub is best used as a barrier or hedge due to its spreading nature and towering height of 6 feet. From mid-summer to fall, Abelia showcases small, lightly fragrant, bell-shaped blooms in white to light pink. Considered the hardiest of the Abelia family, it prefers a location that has part shade to full sun and acidic, well-drained soil.
Classified a semi-evergreen hardwood shrub, Glossy Abelia is best propagated by stem cuttings in early spring or late summer. Notwithstanding colder temperatures in areas north of Dallas/ Ft. Worth, it is best used in Zones 7 to 9. Abelia is rated for zone 6, but if it is grown outside the preferred zone, it will need protection from the cold. This is a shrub that can be used both in the Houston and Dallas/ Ft. Worth areas if you are creating a cottage look for your landscape. Its rounded form serves as a barrier and hedge as well as an accent shrub. It is also in the same family as Honeysuckle and very appealing to butterflies. Its hardiness allows it to withstand salt spray from coastal areas, attracts bees, and it is not attractive to deer.
There are many varieties of Abelia, but the more interesting varieties currently used as landscape shrubs in the Houston and Dallas areas include Canyon Creek, Twist of Lime and Kaleidoscope.
Abelia x grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’ is very similar to the standard Abelia with the exception of its flowers and leaves. Canyon Creek’s leaves emerge in early spring a coppery rose color, then mature green to yellow green before going back to a deep copper color in the late fall. While the flowers of this hybrid are primarily white, the sepals (the parts that surround and protect the flower bud) hang on, giving the appearance that the plant has both rose- and white-colored flowers.
Abelia x grandiflora ‘Gretol’ is a striking, dark green and yellow variegated form of Abelia with light pink flowers and is more commonly known as the Twist of Lime Abelia. It grows in hardiness zones 6-10 to a more manageable shrub height of about 4 feet, and it is considered more versatile in its application in the landscape. Twist of Lime Abelia can be used in pots, borders, and masses in the garden, and also serves as a great accent and background hedge.
Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ is the show stopper of all the hybrids, boasting beautiful leaf color and seasonal interest. In early spring, the small leaves emerge on red stems painted in yellow and green and offers red fall and winter color. Kaleidoscope is also the most compact of these hybrids with a height of 3 feet.
Abelia is an enduring, versatile addition to any Texas landscape, bringing low-maintenance seasonal interest nearly all year long.