Abelia is an excellent choice for the landscape. It’s versatile and has many positive attributes making it an ideal selection for a variety of uses. This evergreen shrub has attractive leaves ranging from green to red with many cultivars to choose from- all with different unique attributes. Fine, small leaves make it a great contrast to other landscape plants.
Planting, Use & Care
Abelia prefers plantings in full to part sun in dry to moist, well-draining soil. It will tolerate shade but will not be as dense or as brilliant. Once established it is drought tolerant! Other fantastic attributes include it’s deer resistance and salt tolerance, making it a great option for the beach house as well. In addition, abelia is also highly resistant to insect and fungal problems. Abelia is a great no-fuss, easy going shrub! It’s perfect for foundation plantings, hedges, the butterfly garden or as a single specimen. Most plants will mature to 6-10 feet tall and wide but smaller, more compact cultivars are also available. Plants can be pruned to keep at a lower height. Abelia needs little fertilization but benefits from twice yearly applications of Holly Tone.
The appearance of abelia can vary by cultivar but mostly their leaves emerge with red-bronze shading that matures to dark green and then turns to an attractive red-bronze in winter. Flowers bloom June to frost and are white to lavender-pink. Individual small, trumpet-shaped flowers grow in clusters from sepals that are brick red and as show as the flowers. Blooms are lightly fragrant.
Abelia Cultivars We Love
Kaleidoscope – Beautiful variegated leaves are bright green and yellow in spring which transition to gold and dark green in summer. When cool weather comes, foliage turns a combination of golden yellow, orange, red and green! A great choice for multi-season interest! Leaves will not burn or bleach in full sun. Grows to 2 feet tall by 3 feet wide and is general compact in habit. Will need an occasional hair cut for “wild hairs”. Plants are perfect in mass plantings, small groupings and even containers. A customer favorite.
- Radiance – One of the newest introductions of abelia. Compact plants with mint green leaves variegated with creamy white margins from Spring until Fall. In winter foliage becomes tinted with hints of pink and purple. Also features sweetly fragrant white flowers from mid-summer through fall. Perfect for contemporary or traditional gardens and an excellent container choice.
Little Richard – Dark green leaves turn bronze in winter. Size is 3 feet tall & wide (or more if very happy) with white flowers. This introduction is local – being introduced by Richard Currin of Currin’s Nursery in Willow Springs, NC!
- Rose Creek– Small dark green leaves turn bronze in winter. Grows to 3 feet tall & wide. Flowers are pale pink to white with red-bronze sepals that persist well into winter and are as showy as the flowers!
- Pinky Bells – Features very large, pink flowers and green foliage that lasts year round.
- Canyon Creek – Features changeable leaves. New growth starts a beautiful copper-orange, ages to yellow and then to green. All three colors appear on plants simultaneously creating a unique display. Leaves revert to bronze in fall. Flowers are light pink and larger than most abelia blooms. Sepals are coppery-red and persist for months. This cultivar has a weeping habit – 4 to 6 feet tall & wide. Provide proper water and fertilization for the best leaf color.
Abelias contrast well in color and texture with plants with dark-green foliage such as hollies or ligustrum and as well as evergreens such as emerald arborvitae, Arizona blue cypress, and big, dark-purple loropetalums.