Abelia chinensis
Common Name: Chinese abelia
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer

Culture

Easily grown in average, moist, acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9. May be attempted in protected locations in Zone 6. Plants usually die to the ground in the cold winter climates of Zones 5 and 6, but may send up new shoots from the roots the following spring. Typically does not require pruning. Flowers blooms on new wood, so any pruning deemed necessary should be done in early spring. Tolerant of heat and humidity. Deer resistant. Established plants have minimal watering needs. Foliage has semi-evergreen tendencies in warm winter climates.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Abelia chinensis, commonly known as Chinese abelia, is an upright-rounded, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub of the honeysuckle family that typically grows on arching branches to 5-8’ tall and to 3-5’ wide. This is an outstanding flowering shrub whose main claim to fame is a lengthy early summer to fall bloom of very fragrant tubular white flowers with showy soft pink bracts. Flowers may be the most fragrant found on any species of Abelia. This shrub is native to lower alpine areas up to about 6000’ in elevation in southeastern China. Branchlets are covered with soft reddish wooly hairs when young. Mature branches are grayish brown. Toothed ovate leaves (to 1 1/2” long) are sparsely hairy above. White flowers (each to 1/2” long) bloom in axillary and terminal clusters at the stem ends. Weight of the flowers often causes the stem ends to dip, thus giving the shrub a somewhat weeping appearance during peak bloom season. As the flowers finish bloom, the sepals turn from green to a showy rosy mauve and persist on the shrub with retention of that color until November. From a distance, the shrub appears to be in bloom well into fall even though the flowers are long gone. This shrub is well-known for being attractive to butterflies (adults butterflies seek flower nectar and caterpillars feed on the foliage).

Chinese abelia is a parent of the popular A. x grandiflora hybrids.

Genus name honors Dr. Clarke Abel (1780-1826), physician and naturalist, who collected seed and plants as part of a British expedition to China in 1817.

Specific epithet is in reference to this species being native to China.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Specimen, group or mass. Border, foundation or hedge. Site in areas where the flowers and fragrance plus the visiting butterflies may be easily observed. Straight species is infrequently marketed in commerce.