Kaleidoscope abelia and purple beauty berry makes
for a wonderful complementary partnership.
over Edward Goucher, there is a new abelia in town.
Actually there are several abelias that will absolutely
take this from a ho-hum shrub to one that is dazzling in
the landscape. All of a sudden you will find yourself
looking at abelias for their colorful foliage, and
flowers that will bring in both butterflies and
there is a lot to be said for Edward Goucher, who
developed this hybrid for the USDA in 1911. This abelia
named after him has stood the test of time for more than
100 years. Now, however, there’s a new generation with
mesmerizing foliage like Lemon Zest, Kaleidoscope and
Mardi Gras. Each one offers great garden attributes.
Zest, also seen in the trade as Hopley’s Lemon Zest,
and Miss Lemon in the Southern Living Plant Collection,
is simply stunning. Today I watched honey bees hitting
on the light pink flowers. Plants that bring in bees,
butterflies and hummingbirds are already winners in my
book, but these leaves have the ability to really put on
young leaves start off lemon yellow with a green center,
and as they age the yellow gives way to a creamy white.
So all growing season you have lemon, cream, green and
pink flowers always showing out. Lemon Zest reaches
about 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. It is recommended for
plant hardiness zones 6-9 and will be everything from
evergreen to deciduous, depending on your zone.
the name suggests, Kaleidoscope has glossy foliage that
seems to be ever changing in shades of green,
golden-yellow, red and orange. This would make it a
winner even if it never bloomed. It is reaches 36 inches
tall with a 4-foot spread and is environmentally
friendly due to its pest-free nature.
do bloom, however, almost non-stop, and many experts
consider these to be among the longest blooming in the
market. The lightly fragrant, funnel-shaped flowers will
prove to be a popular stop in the garden for
hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
colorful foliage and arching habit makes Kaleidoscope a
thrilling partner with beautyberry. The bright purple
berries intermingled with the golden-yellow variegated
foliage is a real attention grabber at the Coastal
Georgia Botanical Gardens in Savannah.
other one we are growing that seems to always be worthy
of a photo is Mardi Gras. It, too, has leaves that
command your attention. They are a combination of cream
and green variegation and flushed with rose pink in the
fall. The flowers, like those of the other abelias,
offer a delightful fragrance.
matter which abelias you choose, consider planting an
odd-numbered cluster in full to part sun. Prepare the
bed by incorporating 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and
2 pounds of a 12-6-6 fertilizer per 100 square feet of
planting area, tilling deeply.
the planting hole two to three times as wide as the
rootball but no deeper. Place the abelia in the hole and
backfill with soil to two-thirds the depth. Tamp the
soil and water to settle, add the remaining backfill,
then repeat the process and apply mulch.
your plants are established, there is not much required.
Feed in late winter with a light application of a slow
released 12-6-6 fertilizer equaling about 1 pound per
100 square feet of planted area. Even though the abelia
is considered to have a dry to average moisture
requirement, maintaining an even supply of water during
prolonged dry spells makes for an incredibly showy
addition to Lemon Zest, Kaleidoscope and Mardi Gras, you
may also want to consider Mardi Gras look for Sunrise.
It has white flowers and green foliage with margins that
are gold to creamy yellow. The Sunrise name comes into
play because of the change in fall leaf color. The
leaves turn shades of yellow, orange and red. I hope you
will give abelias a chance in your landscape. The bees,
butterflies and hummingbirds will thank you.