They’ll give you a profusion of small flowers late in the season...
What makes abelia's such valuable shrubs is that their small, but profuse, flowers are produced in late summer, long after most other shrubs have stopped blooming.
There are about 30 species of pretty summer and autumn-flowering abelia, native to Asia and Mexico. They can be evergreen or deciduous, but the evergreens tend to be rather tender. All have clusters of small, tubular, pastel-coloured flowers that are often fragrant. These blooms have large, showy sepals that are usually red or bronze. The most popular is A. grandiflora, a hybrid which, usefully, combines the hardiness of the deciduous Chinese A. chinensis and the rather tender but evergreen Mexican A. floribunda.
Abelias flower and grow best in well-drained soils, in full sun. Although A. grandiflora is hardy in most areas and is a good choice for coastal gardens, it’s worth planting it in sheltered places in colder areas. It makes a fine wall shrub and the mass of small, fragrant flowers attract bees and butterflies.
The smaller and less vigorous variegated forms are ideal for pots on the patio and can be planted at the front of borders. Plants can be lightly pruned after flowering, although this will remove the colourful sepals so it’s best to wait until spring to cut out a few of the older stems and tidy up the shrub. If they get very overgrown, they can be pruned hard in spring, but this will reduce flowering for a year.
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