Abelia x grandiflora ‘Cardinal’ has mint-green leaves with a narrow white edge and new foliage is pinkish brown. The tiny flowers are snow white. It makes a great candidate for a pot and can form a lovely dense shape if lightly trimmed regularly. It has a mature size of about 1,5 x 1,5 m.
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 and the soil drains well.
Water: irrigate regularly. Although abelias don’t like long periods of drought, they aren’t really water guzzlers. Water new plants every day until established and then reduce the frequency. The soil can be allowed to dry out between watering without the plants suffering damage.
Fertilizing: a handful of ordinary garden fertilizer per shrub, once a year in spring, is more than enough to keep them happy.
In a nutshell
* Easy to propagate, not too fussy about soil type.
* Attractive to bees and butterflies; unlikely to succumb to diseases and pests.
* Dramatic winter foliage.
* Suitable for pots in sunny gardens and on balconies.
* Medium water user.
* Softly scented flowers throughout summer into autumn.
* All varieties are suitable as low and medium hedge plants – either formally trimmed or left natural