Colorful, dramatic leaf and flower combinations. Easy to grow and maintain. It likes most South Texas soils. It will produce leaves year-round and flowers in spring and summer in our area of Texas. What are you waiting for?

Abelia shrub

Let me tell you about abelia.

  • Grows well in South Texas environment

A member of the honeysuckle family, they grow well in our warm, humid climate. There are two varieties at Victoria Educational Gardens at Victoria Regional Airport. One is the Edward Goucher and the other is Rose Creek.

As a Victoria County Master Gardener, I was maintaining these plants for some time at the gardens when I finally looked at the identification label and discovered these were abelias. And by the way, you can identify nearly all of our thousands of plants at VEG by labels if and when you visit. VEG is open free to the public, dawn to dusk.

  • Shrubs grow in containers; best in ground in dry times

I now have two of these shrubs at my home in containers. I nearly killed one of them because of letting it dry out. Due to the wet spring we had, I failed to water the shrub when the dry spell came. By the time I realized what was happening, I had to prune off most of the growth to let the plant regenerate. If it comes back, I will plant it in the ground in my landscape. Plants in the ground are much more likely to handle dry times than container plants.

  • Prune in winter, not in spring or summer for blooming

Abelias are popular for their abundant blooms and dramatic foliage. Two common gardening practices that are normally good rules of thumb may actually hurt abelia blooming.

Pruning in spring or summer can reduce blooms. To keep the plant the size you want and remove inferior foliage, pruning in winter is best. Too much nitrogen fertilizer can produce lots of green foliage but will not help make blooms.

Most gardeners enjoy plants that are attractive, easy to grow, disease- and bug-resistant as well as drought-tolerant. Abelia fits that description, although they do like plenty of moisture, so they are not really altogether drought-tolerant.

As with most plants they enjoy well-drained soil and could suffer root rot and other plant diseases if the soil is constantly wet. If drainage is a problem, try planting in raised beds. Ideal soil ph is 5.0 to 7.5. Most garden soil is 6.0 to 7.0.

Honeysuckle family has various species of evergreen and deciduous plants

As a member of the honeysuckle family, abelia is of 30 different species of evergreen and deciduous plants.

  • Have attractive leaves/foliage; fragrant blooms

The leaves change color from green to reddish-yellow to purple as temperatures change. Full sun to part shade with six hours minimum direct sun is recommended for best density and color. They also have fragrant blooms.

  • Can be 6 to 10 feet tall by 6 feet wide

The larger varieties can grow 6 to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide at maturity. Some of these are listed below with additional descriptive information about each printed with this article. A couple of the smaller, compact species are included here as well.

Varieties

According to “Backyard Landscape Ideas,” several varieties of abelia shrubs are:

  • Chinensis or Chinese abelia – Branches are covered with green leaves with a maroon tinge
  • Edward Goucher – Semi-evergreen with graceful arching branches that have small pink flowers
  • Grandiflora – Deciduous and semi-evergreen in our region. Tall, arching branches are densely packed.
  • Mosanensis – Also known as bridal bouquet or fragrant abelia and is extremely fragrant. Kaleidoscope – Very colorful shrub for any location.
  • Rose creek – Small shrub with dark green leaves and white flowers.
  • Mardi Gras – Dramatic coloring with leaves of green, white and blush pink.

Two other popular varieties currently in bloom in our area are canyon creek and twist of lime.

Compact varieties

Two of the newer abelias are compact and require less pruning.

  • Lavender Mist – Gray green foliage that is purple-red to deep purple in cooler weather.
  • Plum Surprise – Finely-textured foliage that colors with seasons and fewer, single flowers that are purple and yellow. This glossy variety is more drought-tolerant once established.

Good choice for any location

At not much over 6 feet tall, the large and small varieties make it easy to choose a shrub for any location. They make good container plants, borders or mass plantings depending on which species you choose. The blossoms on these shrubs do attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Consider the regular or compact fragrant-blooming abelia for our South Texas area.

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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