It’s not your grandmother’s Abelia anymore. I have seen the varieties of Abelia explode during the last six years, and what a great thing! And what a summer star it is! I have three varieties in my garden, there are lots more out there.
Abelia used to be difficult to incorporate into a suburban garden because it just got too big. It would grow to over ten feet tall and wide. It’s leaves were lack-luster. But new varieties have changed all that, and Abelia is now available in dwarf and medium growth habits and in a variety of colors. It grows in clay or sand, will take full sun or partial shade. It requires no pruning or dead-heading, and has a lovely arching growth habit. It can be semi-evergreen, meaning that for one short month the plant will appear as a woody perennial with no leaves, but then it starts new, bright chartreuse green growth right away. It blooms from July through early November. It’s a wonderful attractor of all pollinators. It also comes in glossy, waxy leaved varieties.
I started with “Canyon Creek”. It has variegated green leaves, gets about 4′ tall, and has pale pink blooms on arching limbs. It’s semi-evergreen. It has tolerated truly horrible soil for me. I have some in full sun, partial shade and all-day dappled shade, and it all performs beautifully.
I then tried “Kaleidoscope”. It has pink edges to the variegated leaves, which are a combination of yellow, lime green, and deep green. It’s smaller, getting only 3′ tall. The blooms are white. It’s also semi-evergreen. This drift has tolerated super-dry soil, looking great planted under a River Birch tree, which is a hard thing to do!
I ran into a “Mardi Gras” variety at the State Farmers Market, and of course had to try some. More colorful even than “Kaleidoscope”, and slightly smaller, this variety has thrived in containers in partial shade. I planted it with some red Pineapple Lily, which contrasts nicely with the colorful, lacy foliage of the Abelia.
A new variety that my subdivision entrance will try is “Confetti”. It has dark green leaves with yellow edges that mature to white. It stays compact and full and is reported to be truly evergreen. We are using it to conceal a raised bed wall and add more color to the bed.
There are too many other varieties to list them all here. Google them for great sources and photos to select the one that fits in your garden.
So glad I planted it
I had no idea how much I would enjoy this perennial when I planted it. The blooms last such a long time. They are tiny trumpet-shaped blooms on arching limbs that bloom from the lowest bud to the tip of the branch gradually over the summer. They stay on the plant attracting bees, butterflies, humming birds, and hummer moths. They show more activity than even my bee balm. They don’t get out of control, staying right where you envisioned them. They are bright, bright green in the very early spring, maturing to bloom in the summer, and the blooms hang on in my garden until November. I’ve recommended it as a planting companion to Muhly Grass for a contrast of texture but cohesion of color.
The deer in my area mark their calendars for February 1st to take a stroll through my garden and munch to the ground day lilies, roses, any early hostas, and whatever else they can sample. Except for my Azaleas and my Abelia, my garden is flattened until I put some milorganite out and they move on to my neighbor’s yard. So yet another reason to love Abelia!
I invite you to try it in your own garden, it is available at all garden centers, and if you don’t see the variety you had your heart set on, just ask them to order it for you. This plant is a summer champion.