|Abelia subsp. var.|
Abelias are popular garden shrubs from 1-6 m tall; the species from warm climates are evergreen, and colder climate species deciduous. Graceful, arching branches which are densely clothed with oval, usually glossy leaves 1/2 to 1-1/2 in. long; having bronzy new growth. The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three, ovate, glossy, dark green, 1.5-8 cm long, turning purplish-bronze to red in autumn in the deciduous species. The flowers appear in the upper leaf axils and stem ends, 1-8 together in a short cyme; they are pendulous, white to pink, bell-shaped with a five-lobed corolla, 1-5 cm long, and usually scented. Tubular or bell-shaped flowers come in clusters at ends of branches or among leaves. Flowering continues over a long and continuous late spring to fall period. The small, plentiful blossoms are enough to be showy, mostly during summer to early fall. After blooms drop, they usually leave purplish or copper-colored sepals that give color into the fall.
Abelia is a genus of about 15-30 species and many hybrids in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae, in the part of that family split off by some authors in the segregate family Linnaeaceae. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group considers Linnaeaceae to encompass such genera as Linnaea, Abelia, Dipelta, Kolkwitzia, and Zabelia. Named after Dr Clarke Abel, a British physician and plant collector.
Abelias are adaptable in the garden, useful in shrub borders, as space dividers and visual barriers, and near house walls; lower kinds are good bank or ground covers.
Plant in well-drained, moderately fertile soil, in a sun. Moderate frost hardiness, prune selectively in winter to keep the shrub's graceful form, removing some of the basal shoots to make room for new growth, plus the cane ends. Take care to preserve the plant's naturally arching habit. Don't shear, the more stems you cut to the ground in winter or early spring, the more open and arching next year's growth will be.
The cultivation of abelias presents no special difficulties. They do best in sunny, sheltered positions and prefer a well-drained soil enriched by peat or leaf- mold. A. floribunda is sometimes grown in pots and kept during the winter in the cool greenhouse; in this case a sandy compost of loam and peat or leaf-mold will be a suitable mixture.
Soft-tip cuttings in spring to summer, or half-hardened cuttings in late autumn to winter. Seeds are not often obtainable; they are sown in spring and germinate after a month or two; the seedlings begin to bloom usually in their third year.
Pests and diseases
Anthracnose, Cercospora leaf spots, powdery mildew and fungal root rot. Abelia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera which feed on Abelia.
- Abelia x grandiflora, Glossy Abelia, Hort. ex. Bailey. The most widely grown Abelia is this hybrid of 2 parents from China (Abelia chinensis x Abelia uniflora). This is a rounded, spreading, multi-stemmed shrub with gracefully arching branches to 1-1.8 m tall, with ovate, glossy, dark green semi-evergreen leaves to 2-6 cm long, and clusters of white-tinged-pink, bell-shaped flowers to 2 cm long.
- Sunset National Garden Book. Sunset Books, Inc., 1997. ISBN 0376038608
- Barnes, P. 2001. Looking at Abelias. New Plantsman 8(2): 78-92 (clarification of nomenclature, history, and cultivars with an excellent key and photographs).
- w:Abelia. Some of the material on this page may be from Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons license.
- Abelia QR Code (Size 50, 100, 200, 500)
- Flora of China: Abeila species list
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Abeila
- Mexican Abelia
- Abelia page
- Two new species of Abelia