What Is a Glossy Abelia?

Rebecca Cartwright
Rebecca Cartwright
Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Glossy abelia, or Abelia xgrandiflora, is a horticultural hybrid in the the Caprifoliaceae family, sometimes called the honeysuckle family. The species is a cross between Abelia chinesis and Abelia uniflora. It is a shrub, and can be either deciduous or evergreen depending on the climate it is grown in. Glossy abelia has attractive flowers throughout much of the summer and visually appealing leaf color in the fall. It is often recommended as a landscape plant in regions where it grows well.

The shrub can grow as tall as 6 to 7 feet (about 1.8 to 2.1 m) tall, though in colder climates it may be closer to 3 feet (about 0.9 m) tall when full-grown. It spreads as it matures and has a graceful arching shape. Glossy abelia splits and shreds as the stems mature.

Small oval leaves with a glossy, dark green top are the basis for the plant's popular name. The underside of the leaves is a paler green. In fall the leaves turn a deep maroon-red to purple color, often with a bronze or copper overtone.

From May or June until the weather becomes cooler, glossy abelia continually sets clusters of small tubular flowers. Individual blossoms are each slightly less than an inch (2.54 cm) long and a soft pink to white color. The sepals, the papery coverings at the base of the petals, are light to dark purple and are often said to add extra visual appeal during the flowering season.

Glossy abelia is recommended as a landscape choice in a wide range of climate areas. In warmer areas, the plant grows as a broad leaf evergreen or partial evergreen. The tree will drop all of its leaves in the fall in cooler climates. This dual character is due to its hybrid nature, as one parent species is evergreen and the other deciduous. If temperatures fall below 0 degrees F (about -17 degrees C) the plant may die to the ground but will usually return from the root and flower the following summer.

This shrub will grow in partial shade but flowers best in full sun. It requires well-drained soil that remains moist and often does best in acidic soil conditions. Moderate watering is usually recommended for this plant. Flowers appear on each year's new growth so the plant may be pruned as needed without reducing the number of blossoms.

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      Woman with a flower