You want flowers? Glossy abelia (Abelia xgrandiflora) will give you flowers–plenty of them over a long period of time. This hybrid (A. chinensis x A. uniflora) originated in Italy before 1866 and has been in cultivation for more than a century. It remains as one of the most popular shrubs for gardens. White, flushed pink tubular flowers emerge from May until frost. When you look at the flowers individually, you’ll say, “Yeah, so what.” Step back and look at the flowers smothering the leaves and you’ll find yourself saying, “Holy cow!” This cast-iron shrub is not fazed by heat or drought; sun or shade is acceptable although full sun results in the best floral display. It has not significant insect or disease problems.
The typical height of the species is 3 to 6 ft. high and wide (18 to 20 ft. high specimens at the Keith Arboretum in Chapel Hill, NC), but you should consider cultivars that offer a range of sizes, forms, and flower colors. My current favorites are ‘Canyon Creek’, ‘John Creech’, ‘Kaleidoscope’, ‘Little Richard’ and ‘PIIAB-I’ Golden Fleece™.
While other shrubs and trees go in and out of bloom, count on glossy abelia to charm you with a seemingly never-ending floral display.
© Bob Polomski 2015