abelia has formed a colorful hedge in front of
this Chinese snowball viburnum.
did I think I would see the day that abelias were making
my list of must-have plants. I wrote about some of the
new abelias in the spring of 2014, and now four years
later, they are real performers. At the Coastal Georgia
Botanical Gardens we got Kaleidoscope, and Miss Lemon
for evaluating and trial purposes from the Southern
Living Plant Collection.
two abelias have been nothing but stunning, and now, I
am plant lusting, if you will, over Confetti. This
abelia also part of the collection is compact yet
vigorous with shades of hot pink, creamy white, and
green. It is unbelievably cold hardy to minus 20 and is
recommended from zones 5-9.
many people have never heard of an abelia and others,
perhaps Edward Goucher that was pretty doggone good. But
these new varieties with glossy variegated foliage would
thrill even if they never bloom.
for instance which is cold hardy to zone 6 produce
foliage that is glossy and variegated seemingly to be
ever changing in shades of green golden-yellow, red and
orange giving it year-round interest. It 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. Most of you who read
my columns know I place great importance on whether
blooms bring in the pollinators. I am happy to say that
these abelias which may be the longest bloomers in the
market produce lightly fragrant, funnel-shaped flowers
that have proven to bring in swallowtail butterfly
species, honeybees, and hummingbirds.
colorful foliage and arching habit makes the abelia a
nice contrasting combination plant among evergreens. At
the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, ours were near
Soft Caress mahonia and spreading yew, while others are
planted ever so picturesque in front of Canary Island
date palms and Chinese snowball viburnums.
abelias you choose, consider planting in odd-numbered
clusters 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,
repeat the process and apply mulch. The wide holes allow
for the quickest acclimation to your bed.
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 it is
considered to have a dry to average moisture
requirement, maintaining an even supply of water during
prolonged dry spells pays dividends as it makes for an
incredible showy plant.
Confetti, and Miss Lemon are among the showiest
selections you will find at the garden center. Keep your
eyes open however for Radiance which is brand new to the
Southern Living Plant Collection group. It too is
compact and vigorous and produces variegated foliage
with crimson stems. You’ll find the leaves beginning
green with creamy margins aging to silver green and
cream for a dramatic contrast. Believe me when I say you