Graceful, arching branches densely clothed with oval, usually glossy leaves 1/2–1 1/2 inches long; bronzy new growth. Tubular or bell-shaped flowers in clusters at ends of branches or among leaves. Though small, blossoms are plentiful enough to be showy, mostly during summer and early fall. When blooms drop, they usually leave purplish or copper-colored sepals that provide color into the fall months. Leaves also may take on bronzy tints in fall.
To keep the shrub’s graceful form, prune selectively; 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. Abelias are adaptable plants, useful in shrub borders, as space dividers and visual barriers, and near house walls; lower kinds are good bank or ground covers.
Abelia x grandiflora
This cross between two Chinese species is the best known and most popular of the abelias. To 8 ft. or taller, spreading to 5 ft. or wider. Loses most of its leaves at 15°F/9°C. Freezes to the ground at 0°F/–18°C but usually recovers to bloom the same year, making a graceful border plant 10–15 in. high.
This dwarf, easy-care evergreen shrub flowers and provides year-long color; it is as versatile as it is colorful. Its chameleon-like foliage changes with the seasons from golden yellow in spring, to orange-red in fall. From the Sunset Western Garden Collection.
Dwarf (to 2–3 ft. high and 4 ft. wide) with shiny dark green leaves that hold on for a long time even in cold winters. White flowers.
Grows 2–3 ft. high and 4–5 ft. wide, with leaves edged and splashed with pink and creamy white. Pale pink to white flowers.
Low grower to 1 1/2–2 ft. tall, spreading 4–5 ft. wide. Useful as groundcover, bank planting, and foreground shrub. White flowers.
Dense, compact, refined growth to 3–4 ft. tall, 5 ft. wide. Lavender flowers.
Densely branched, with bronzy green leaves that turn red and purple in fall. To 3–6 ft. tall and wide. White flowers.