Abelia x grandiflora ‘Francis Mason’ is also known as the golden abelia. The leaves are often the colour of pure gold, and sometimes speckled yellow and green. You can expect noticeable bronze colours during low temperatures. The slender branches of beautifully coloured leaves last well in the vase, making them popular with flower arrangers. In towns in the Little Karoo, this shrub is often used to form medium-sized hedges. The flowers are the same as those of A. x grandiflora.
In the colder gardens in particular, and even in ‘difficult’ climates such as coastal gardens, you can depend on Abelia x grandiflora (glossy abelia). This garden hybrid is an evergreen shrub that grows to about 2 x 1,5 m, with long lateral branches that spread elegantly to form a rounded, bushy shape. Its small, oval-shaped leaves are dark green and glossy, but it is quite normal to see a bronze tint on both new and older leaves. (Some newer hybrids have lovely variegated leaves.) It produces bunches of bell-shaped, white flowers with a soft pink tint, and the calyces are almost rosy pink to light purple. Although there is no shortage of flowers when abelia is in bloom, it is not planted primarily as an exceptionally attractive flowering shrub, but rather as a very reliable grower that holds its own as a background shrub amongst other plants. It willingly grows in both full sun and light shade and, even more importantly, it performs particularly well as an informal hedge.
When do they bloom?
Abelias flower from the start of summer until rather late in autumn. The shrubs can be trimmed back in late winter or spring to encourage new, bushy growth.
Most suitable climate
Abelias are hardened against cold and frost, and the colours of those with variegated leaves deepen even more during winter. They are relatively wind resistant and will flourish in coastal gardens if they are planted in a slightly sheltered area.
What they need
Location: A. x grandiflora will grow and bloom in full sun and light shade. Full sun is best for bringing out the colours of the latest variegated hybrids, although morning sun and afternoon shade is fine and they will grow successfully in small city gardens with changing sun and shade patterns.
Soil: all soil types are good, provided the planting holes are enriched with compost a