Growing Abelia Shrubs
Abelia is a semi-evergreen shrub in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae and has been used in gardens and landscapes around the world for centuries with great success. An old fashioned shrub, it deserves a second chance to be included in our landscape due to its easy maintenance requirements and beautiful late spring to fall flowering habit. Tiny trumpet shaped flowers in white to pink with purple tints appear in late spring and continue until fall when the foliage turns a beautiful bronze, red or purple color, furthering the appeal of this lovely shrub. Once established, this hardy shrub can be left to its devices and just enjoyed for its often glossy green foliage and lightly scented delicate flowers.
Abelia is native to Eastern Asia and Mexico where it can handle weather extremes fairly well, depending on the species. Hardy from Zones 4 and up, each species has its own tolerances. Generally speaking, though, it is a semi-evergreen shrub in Zones 8 and above, and can be deciduous in Zones 7 and below, depending on location and protection from harsh winter conditions. Some popular varieties of Abelia include Glossy Abelia, Edward Goucher and Kaleidoscope Abelia.
With oval shaped pointed dark green leaves that can be variegated in some varieties, and hundreds of tiny trumpet shaped flowers that cluster on the ends of gracefully arching branches, abelias have found a place in the home landscape as a stand alone specimen shrub for taller varieties like Ruby Anniversary, Sweet Emotions or Canyon Creek Abelia, or in containers for shorter, more compact varieties like Pinky Bells or Sunny Anniversary Abelia. Whether you want a short compact hedge or a privacy screen, there is an Abelia that will fit the bill and reward you with year around color and interest.
The Best Way to Use Abelia Shrubs
Abelias can bring colorful foliage and hundreds of tiny delicate flowers to the home landscape. Whether massed out in hedges or privacy screens, or combined with smaller shrubs in an attractive specimen garden, they are a perfect addition to your landscape. Compact varieties grow well in large containers, giving your patio or deck a privacy screen without having to sacrifice ground space.
While Abelias are hardy in Zones 4-11 in general, the majority of varieties perform best in Zones 6-9. Winter protection may be needed in harsh winter regions, and some afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer sun regions. Once established, these delicate looking shrubs can take it from there and put on a show nearly year around. Plant them in full sun when possible, a Southern or Western exposure is best in most cases, and give them a location with well draining rich soil for best results. Frequent watering will enhance the flower production and result in a healthier plant.
Grow Abelia for their year around appeal and for their ability to attract pollinators to your garden or landscape. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds will be frequent visitors to your shrub.
Landscaping Tip: Abelias are available in several varieties, giving the home gardener and landscaper the ability to choose the size that will give the most versatility, whether as a hedge, privacy screen or windbreak, or as a specimen in the garden bed or container.
Abelia Companion Plants
Abelias look great in multi-species hedges. Sun-loving shrubs with an upright habit and colorful flowers and/or foliage such as lilacs, viburnum, flowering quince and spirea come to mind and would look wonderful in combination with Abelia.