Twist of orange abelia

New Twist on an Old Favorite – Abelia

Clusters of tiny white flowers on abelia. Photo: Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS

Abelias have been a landscape staple in the Southeastern United States for over a century. Numerous types have been used over the years, but two of the oldest forms still used in landscapes are Glossy Abelia Abelia x grandiflora and Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’, dating back to the early 1900s.

Glossy Abelia is a large informal shaped shrub with ½ – 1 inch glossy green leaves and large clusters of tiny white flowers. It can grow to 8 feet wide and tall and tolerates tough landscape sites such as full sun, low moisture (once established), acidic or slightly alkaline soils. It blooms prolifically and is attractive to butterflies and pollinators. New stems are reddish colored which contrasts nicely with dark green foliage which may be evergreen if winters are mild. After blooms are spent the pink sepals remain on the plants carrying more color through the season.

‘Edward Goucher’ Abelia does not grow quite as large and is a good performer with pink flowers. It is smaller than Glossy Abelia, but can still reach 5’x5’ when mature. It is also tolerant of hot, dry spots in the landscape.

Over the past few decades there have been many new introductions of abelia cultivars to the market. A major goal of breeders was to offer abelias that would fit into smaller landscapes and there has also been a trend towards variegated foliage color. There are dozens of abelias in production, but a few listed below are usually easy to find in local garden centers and have proven reliable in Florida landscapes.

  • Abelia x ‘Rose Creek’ Rose Creek Abelia, low mounding growth habit reaching 2-3’ tall and 3-4’ wide, green foliage, new reddish stems, large clusters of white flowers
  • Abelia x grandiflora ‘Hopley’s Lemon Zest™’ Lemon Zest Abelia or Miss Lemon™ Abelia grows 3-4’ tall and wide, has yellow and green variegated foliage, light pink flowers
  • Abelia x grandiflora ‘Confetti’ Confetti® Abelia, matures at 3’ tall and wide, new foliage has pink, white, and green variegation and mature foliage is green and white variegated, pink and white flowers
  • Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ P.P.#16,988 Kaleidoscope Abelia, compact growth 2-3’ tall by 3-3.5’ wide, gold and pink new foliage that matures into gold and green variegation, white flowers

All abelias perform best in full sun to part shade and have low water requirements once established. They are not salt tolerant, so avoid planting in coastal landscapes or in areas where salts are an issue. Abelias have few pest problems, but aphids have been known to feed on new growth – avoid over fertilization.

  • Clusters of tiny white flowers on abelia. Photo: Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS

  • Edward Goucher Abelia has pink flowers. Photo: Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS

  • Rose Creek Abelia forms a compact mound. Photo: Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS

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Julie McConnell

UF/IFAS Extension Bay County Horticulture Agent
B.S. Horticulture, Auburn University

M.S. Entomology, University of Florida

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Rose Creek Abelia

Rose Creek Abelia is a small shrub with lustrous dark green leaves and fragrant white flowers. At each flower base, small pink leaves form that set the flowers off nicely.
The pink leaves remain long after the blossom has faded. This evergreen shrub looks great all year long and this little shrub quickly grows to full size, filling in its space in the garden nicely. The growth habit is nice and dense, forming a nice mounded shape. The flowers will keep appearing until frost.
This plant gives you a wonderful look with very little maintenance and fuss. It is adaptable and beautiful as well as easy to grow.

Landscaping Ideas For The Rose Creek

Rose Creek Abelia is perfect for foundation plantings or mass plantings around the yard. They look lovely next to a fence or as a specimen plant.
This shrub is small enough that you can plant them in containers around your deck or patio for a beautiful look. Add this decorative plant to any mixed border for a wonderful combination.
This is a terrific plant if you have deer problems. They don’t like to eat this shrub, so you can enjoy both the deer and the flowers. Keep the shrub somewhere you can enjoy the fragrance of the flowers.
It also attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. This shrub has a place in everyone’s garden somewhere. Its compact habit allows it to fit neatly into any corner that may be available.

Care And Planting Tips

Rose Creek Abelia is easy to grow. Plant it in moist, well drained soil and water it frequently until it is well established. Once established, this abelia is drought tolerant. Shearing can be done in late winter to keep the plant neat and tidy.
Feed the plant in the early spring before new growth begins. This plant is fairly maintenance free.
For the best results, plant it in full sun or partial shade. The red stems and burgundy tinges on the leaves will look best if it gets enough light. This hardy shrub will give you many years of enjoyment in the garden.

Abelia Information

  • Scientific Name: Abelia x ‘Rose Creek’
  • Best Soil: Moist, well drained soil
  • Light: Full sun or partial shade
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Foilage: Dark green
  • Fall Color: Purple-green
  • Bloom: White fragrant flowers from spring through summer
  • Mature Size and Shape: Grows to 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide in a low mound
  • Hardiness Zone: 6 to 9
  • Plant Spacing: Plant 2 feet apart in a mixed border

All Seasons Nursery & Landscaping

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia foliage

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 3 feet

Spread: 4 feet


Hardiness Zone: 6

Brand: Garden Debut


This attractive compact shrub has glossy green leaves with a twist of orange variegation; tidy, mounded habit and tubular white flowers make this shrub a welcome addition to smaller spaces

Ornamental Features

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia features dainty clusters of lightly-scented white tubular flowers at the ends of the branches from early summer to early fall. It has attractive buttery yellow-variegated dark green foliage with hints of orange. The glossy oval leaves are highly ornamental and turn an outstanding burgundy in the fall. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. The indian red stems can be quite attractive.

Landscape Attributes

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia is a multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with a mounded form. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season’s flowers. It is a good choice for attracting birds, bees and butterflies to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 4 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn’t necessarily require facer plants in front. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This particular variety is an interspecific hybrid.

Twist of Orange™ Glossy Abelia makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its height, it is often used as a ‘thriller’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag – this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

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