The glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) grows as an evergreen in tropical locations but loses its leaves in areas with freezing weather. The shrub grows up to 10 feet in height with a width of 12 feet. It has long, arching branches that give it a graceful appearance. The shrub produces tiny, trumpet-shaped flower clusters from mid-summer to fall. The flowers appear pink and white and have a strong, sweet fragrance. The plant's lifespan averages five to 20 years.
Formation and Seed Formation
A hybrid, the glossy abelia was formed when the evergreen shrub Abelia uniflora and the deciduous shrub Abelia chinensis were crossed. In 1886, the glossy abelia was introduced to Italy, according to the Floridata website. The plant does not set seed because it is a hybrid and rendered sterile. Propagation is achieved only by soft wood cuttings.
Growth Region and Habits
The glossy abelia grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 6 to 9. It can be grown in zone 5 but dies to the ground during the winter months and then grows back from its root system. Due to the fact that the shrub continually dies to the ground in zone 5, it rarely reaches a very large size, normally standing only 3 feet in height. In zones 8 and 9, the shrub grows as an evergreen, maintaining its glossy foliage throughout the year. It averages 3 feet of growth per year until it reaches about 10 feet in height, and then growth slows.
The glossy abelia grows well in full sunlight or partial shade and tolerates a wide range of soils. It grows best in moist soil that is not water-logged but does not tolerate drought well. The shrub is often planted in regions that are prone to soil erosion because its ample growth and root system help to stabilize its surrounding soil. It is a popular border shrub and is often utilized in foundation plantings.
The foliage of the shrub appears a brilliant green and gradually takes on a deep, dark green appearance upon maturity. If the shrub does not receive adequate sunlight, the foliage development will be sparse. During autumn months, the foliage becomes bronze and purple. Its leaves fall in areas with cold winters, but the leaves remain and are replaced by new green foliage in tropical locations.
Pest- and disease-free, the glossy abelia is a low-maintenance shrub. It can be pruned in the spring to maintain its size and shape. Because it produces flowers on its new wood, care should be taken when pruning so that not too much new growth is removed.
Propagation is achieved by clipping 6 inches of a new growth tip and placing the tip of the stem into a moist starter soil with the leaves still attached so root growth can begin. The glossy abelia benefits from placement on a saucer of moist rocks to raise the humidity level around the cutting. It also enjoys light misting with a hand-held sprayer of water. The cutting quickly roots and takes in the starter soil.