Information on the Glossy Abelia

Overview

Glossy Abelia (Abelia X grandiflora), a member of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae), is a hybrid cross between Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora. Glossy abelia is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9. Glossy abelia is named for Dr. Clark Abel (1780 to 1826), a British naturalist.

Form

An evergreen or semideciduous shrub, glossy abelia reaches 8 feet tall with a slow to moderate growth rate. It is a many-branched, rounded shrub with a spreading habit. Glossy abelia's 1 1/2 inch leaves are simple, with serrated margins and opposite or whorled around its stems. Its leaves may exhibit reddish color in cool weather and new growth is reddish. Glossy abelia has reddish-brown stems that peel with age. Its ¾-inch, funnel-shaped flowers are borne in loose terminal clusters of white blooms tinged with pink. Glossy abelia blooms abundantly throughout the spring and summer.

Uses

Use glossy abelia in pruned or unpruned hedge plantings, as a foundation plant, in borders or as a bank covering. It can be sheared and trained into topiaries. Glossy abelia attracts butterflies.

Cultivation

Glossy abelia prefers full sun to light shade. Plant glossy abelia 36 to 60 inches apart in nutrient-rich, moist soils. This shrub tends to grow "leggy" with age and requires regular pruning to keep it well-shaped. It is moderately drought tolerant once established and handles severe pruning. Propagate glossy abelias by leafless, hardwood stem cuttings taken in November through January.

Selected Cultivars

Cultivar Prostrata, with its low-growing habit, is often used as a ground cover. Sherwoodii, up to 3 feet tall, has small leaves and flowers, and turns purplish during winter months. Edward Goucher is a commercially popular cultivar to about 5 feet tall, with equal spread. It is a hybrid between A. x grandiflora and A. schumannii. Its purple-pink flowers are deep in color and its leaves are lighter green than A. x grandiflora. Edward Goucher blooms from June until frost. Confetti is a dwarf abelia with variegated leaves.

Problems

Glossy abelia requires rich soil. No serious insects or diseases affect this plant. Plants become thin if planted in the shade and will not flower. Aphids may be an occasional pest. Control aphids with insecticidal soap.

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About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."