Mr. D's Plant of the Week Series: Glossy Abelia

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When you’re trying to decide what type of background or massing plant to use, for your commercial or industrial landscape, that will highlight the forms and colors of companion plants; the low-growing Glossy Abelia dense shrub is ideally suited to get the job done.

The Abelia x grandiflora, (its scientific name; pronounced: uh-BEEL-ee-uh gran-dif-FLOR-uh), from the family of Caprifoliaceae, and though it is not a native of North America it is not known to be an invasive type plant. The Glossy Abelia has two other names: dwarf glossy abelia, and 'Sherwoodii' glossy abelia. It will grow 3-4 feet tall and have a spread from 4-6 feet across. The compact form of this shrub does compliment taller shrubs planted around it that have larger and coarse leaves.

How to care and manage a Glossy Abelia

The robust Glossy Abelia is a year-round planted shrub found all throughout Tallahassee and Leon County. It prefers to be in moderately fertile, moist and well-drained soil. It has excellent drought tolerance and is ideal for full sun or lightly shaded areas. A quick note about shaded areas; this plant will become thin and unattractive, and will not flower if it gets planted in a heavily shaded location.

The foliage will darken throughout the winter, but the shrub typically remains full during the colder months. Its growth rate does fluctuate between slow to moderate throughout the year. That gives you more control and eliminates fast overgrowth and two clippings per year is all it will need.

You can shape it into a traditional hedge or an ornamental shape. However, when you prune in this style, make sure the bottom of the plant is much broader than the top. If you attempt to trim vertically, the lower branches are shaded and often lose foliage. That will give the shrub a dark, leafless and ugly bottom.

A few things to note about planting the shrub: if your landscape’s plan was to have foundation planting, then plant on 4- to 6-foot centers. However, if your layout is to look more hedge-like, then bury the shrubs closer together. Either way, it’s a perfect fit when bordering a sidewalk or driveway.

Mr. D’s Glossy Abelia landscape design tip

When designing a landscape that will have plant masses in large areas, choose shrubs that have similar characteristics that blend well with your Glossy Abelia. The small leaves of the dwarf glossy abelia and its fine texture will blend well with plants of contrasting features, i.e., coarse texture, dark green in color, broad leaves and thick stems.

The same applies to its different size and shape. To emphasize the upright, urn shape of the 'Sherwoodii' with a sprawling, mounding form go with a low-growing groundcover. Along with that design, you would choose similar plant appearances. That includes other vase-shaped, small-leafed shrubs, grasses of arching forms with clumping and thin blades.

If you found the Glossy Abelia interesting, then check out The Firebush material and let us know your thoughts!