Abelia ×grandiflora Cultivar Checklist

                                                                      Michael A. Dirr

                                                                      Plant Introductions, Inc.


Abelias have been part of the garden our entire married life (now 44 years). In Urbana, IL, a dieback shrub yet back to 3’ high and wide with flowers in late summer-fall. Typically a 3 to 6’ high deciduous (north) to often semi-evergreen (south) shrub, but at Keith Arboretum, Chapel Hill, NC, a 70-year-old plant was 18’ by 20’. Without question, plants do not read books when it comes to size. Many growers and gardeners were tired of the old, creaky, green leaf, everyday A. ×grandiflora. With 70 years under my belt, much has changed, and for the better.


Nursery growers, retailers, and gardeners have numerous superior choices. Variegated foliage is the current rage and bronze, ruby, red, orange, cream, yellow, and green permutations are available. Breeders and selectors have elevated (my belief) this antiquarian garden species to modern day respectability and interest.


Many of the cultivars are described in the Dirr Manual, 2009, Dirr Encyclopedia 2011, and can be sourced therein. For the newest cultivars a brief synopsis is presented. Patent numbers are listed and the reader seeking complete history and profiles can visit uspto.gov. I read all the patented Abelia descriptions and, to be clear, there is ambiguity relative to exact parentage.


Kelli and I thought this Checklist concept would serve as a portal for the exchange of timely, useful information. An example is the borderline insane rebranding/renaming of an existing/older cultivar that was not protected. ‘Hopley’s (‘Aghop’), a pretty variegated cultivar from England, with PBR in Europe, was not protected in the United States. So ‘Hopley’s’ = Twist of Lime™ in Garden Debut® = Lemon Zest™ in Southern Living Plant Collection, 2014. Perfectly legitimate, but confusing to growers and consumers.

Additional introductions are in the evaluation pipeline. Dr. Carol Robacker, University of Georgia, has at least five. They are described in Nursery Management at http://www.nurserymag.com/nursery-1210-new-use-abelias.aspx?List_id=6&email=%255B~email~%255D&key=%255B~key~%255D


At Plant Introductions, Inc., Abelia parvifolia, ‘Rose Creek’, Eternal Sunshine™, and Kaleidoscope™ seedlings are being evaluated along with several variegated (green/white, compact habit) sports. In September 2013, at Nova Flora/Conard-Pyle and Green Leaf-Aris Horticulture Inc., PA, I observed Abelia trials with only breeder coded (#) accessions. Nothing overwhelmed!


Abelia umbrellas ~30 species with a new white-flowered taxon reported from Japan. Seismic taxonomic upheavals portend major revisions in the genus. Work at Kew Gardens, England, suggests four genera, Abelia, Diabelia, Vesalea, and Zabelia, will be delineated from the current Abelia. The origin of A. ×grandiflora, A. chinensis × A. uniflora, was shrouded in a taxonomic fog. What is A. uniflora? Although in plain view, most horticulturists had no concept. Appears A. uniflora is the correct taxonomic home for A. shumannii, A. engleriana, A. macrotera, and A. parvifolia.


Nursery Management invites your constructive thoughts for improvement and will update the information on a timely basis. Checklists of other prominent ornamental taxa like Loropetalum, Hydrangea, and Spiraea will be forthcoming.


Abelia ×grandiflora and closely-related cultivars

*Award of Garden Merit

**Royal Horticultural Society Plant Finder (available online)


Anderose (‘Minaud’) PBR


Bella Donna™ (‘WEV02’ PPAF) – White margins, green centers


‘Brockhill Allgold’ (RHSPF*, 2013)


Bronze Anniversary™ (‘Rika1’ PP20,568) (Dirr) Proven Winners


‘Canyon Creek’ (AGM**, 2011) (Dirr) – Named by Mark Griffith


‘Cloud 99’ (Dirr)


‘Compacta’ (Dirr)


Confetti™ (‘Conti’, PP8,472) (Dirr) PDSI


‘Copper Glow’ (Dirr)


‘Dwarf Purple’ (Dirr) – Probably not A. ×grandiflora; similar to ‘Edward Goucher’, at least the plant I evaluated.


Eternal Sunshine™ (‘PIIAB-II’ PPAF) – Seedling of ‘Golden Fleece’; copper-orange emerging shoots, turn bright yellow maturing green; no burn in Zone 7/8; semi-evergreen, abundant white flowers, pinkish calyces, 2-3’ by 4’; Plant Introductions, Inc./First Editions® release in 2014.


Fairy Dance™ (‘Minedward’ PP22,360) – Soft lavender flowers, 3-5’ by 3-5’; semi-evergreen, suspect ‘Edward Goucher’ genes are involved; Proven Winners.


‘Flat Creek’ (Dirr)


‘Francis Mason’ (Dirr)


‘Frosty’ – White margins, green center; observed only once; pronounced variegation; not sure how stable ; from Richard Currin, NC.


‘Garden Star’ – Yellow margins, mature to ivory.


Gold Dust™ (‘Goldenglossy’ PP13,285) (Dirr)


Golden Anniversary™ (‘Minipan’) (Dirr) – Golden foliage; selection of ‘Compacta’.


Golden Fleece™ (‘PIIAB-I’) – Selection by author from A. chinensis seed collected at Planting Fields Arboretum, NY, in 2007. Bronze emerging leaves, maturing yellow-green; deciduous; abundant pink-white flowers; 5’ by 5’; introduced by Plant Introductions, Inc.


‘Golden Glow’ (Dirr)


Goldsport™ (‘Costin’) (Dirr) a.k.a. ‘Gold Spot’, ‘Aurea’, ‘Mason’s Gold’?


Golden Panache™ (‘Minpan’) RHSPF 2013


‘Hopley’s’ (‘Aghop’) (Dirr) PBR in Europe – In author’s opinion, in top two variegated Abelias; I seldom observe a branch reversion; glistening green-white variegated leaves on low mounding plant; evergreen to semi-evergreen in Dirr garden; continues to be rebranded in the U.S. Twist of Lime™ and Lemon Zest™ are other names for the plant.


‘John Creech’ (Dirr)


Kaleidoscope™ (PP16,988) (Dirr) – I estimate the most popular variegated cultivar; sport of ‘Little Richard’ in 1997; Panoramic Farm introduction.


‘Lake Maggiore’ AGM, 2011, RHS Trials 2004-2009 – Glossy dark green leaves; glossy red stems; white tinged light purple flowers; pinkish brown calyces; 6’ by 10’.


Lucky Lots (‘WEV02’ PPAF) RHSPF 2013 – Concept plants; can be viewed on YouTube; same as Bella Donna™.


‘Lavender Mist’ (PP18,945) (Dirr)


‘Little Richard’ (Dirr)


Mardi Gras™ (PP15,203) (Dirr) – From Hawksridge Nursery, Hickory, NC. Variegated green-white-pink; several additional variegated sports arose from this; none to my knowledge yet introduced. Sport was discovered on a selection of open-pollinated A. chinensis seedlings.


‘Margarita’ (Renamed as Twist of Orange™)—Bright golden yellow leaf margins; red stems; white flowers; does not develop wild, splaying shoots, 12-year-old plant was 18-24” by 4’; from Clark’s Liner Farm, Oxford, NC.  


Petite Garden™ (‘Minedward’) – Appears to be the same as Fairy Dance™ (q.v.). The nonsense cultivar name is the same.


Pinky Bells™ (‘Lynn’ PP20,604) – Large pink flowers, 2-3’ by 4-5’; -10°F; A. parvifolia × ‘Little Richard’; Proven Winners.


‘Pleasant Surprise’ – RHS Trials 2004-2009. Listed only as Abelia without species affiliation or description.


‘Plum Surprise’ (PP18,835) (Dirr)


‘Prostrata’ (PP1,431) (Dirr)


‘Prostrate White’ – Listed on WEB


‘Radiance’ (PP21,929) – Sport of Kaleidoscope™; discovered in 2006; green center, white margin.


‘Raspberry Profusion’ (PP18,834) (Dirr)


‘Really Pink’ (Dirr) – Believe the same as ‘Edward Goucher’; no discernable difference.


‘Rose Creek’ (AGM, 2011) (Dirr) – Compact green leaf introduction; profuse flowering; mauve-rose sepals; named by Mark Griffith.


Ruby Anniversary™ (‘Keiser’ PP21,632) – Resulted from cross pollination of two A. chinensis; burgundy-tinted leaves and stems; white fragrant flowers; selected in 2002; Proven Winners.


‘Semperflorens’ – WEB without description.


‘Sherwoodii’ (Dirr)


Silver Anniversary™ (‘Panache’, Minier) (Dirr) – White margins, gray-green centers, sport of ‘Compacta’.


‘Sparkling Silver’ – White margins.


Sunny Anniversary™ (‘Minduol’ PPAF) – Yellow flowers with splashes of pink and orange; 3-4’ by 3-4’; Proven Winners.


‘Sunrise’ (PP9,698) (Dirr)


Sunshine Daydream™ (‘Abelops’ PP20,961) – Tricolor variegation of pink, golden yellow and green; flowers described as white; photo in 2014 Ball catalog shows lavender coloration; 3-4’ by 3-4’; also rebranded as Scented Blush™ by HGTV, 2013 catalog; Ball Ornamentals introduction.


‘Tanya’ – WEB without description.


Twist of Lime™ (‘Hopley’s) – See description under ‘Hopley’s’.


Twist of Orange™ (‘sPg-3-069’) – Pretty with green, gold, orange, and red foliage, finally white margined, have observed and appears similar to Twist of Lime™ in habit; Garden Debut®, Southern Plant Group. A rename. See ‘Margarita’. Note how descriptions do not jibe. Have observed the plant and wonder how two seemingly disparate descriptions can evolve. Such is marketing.


White Marvel™ (‘Jackpot’ PP13,430) (Dirr) – From Katsuya Sakaue, Japan; Introduced by Hines Nursery.



Epilogue: Four additional names surfaced: ‘Little Gem’, ‘Short and Sweet’ (like ‘Compacta’), ‘Snowdrift’, and ‘Mei-fu-hana-tsukubane-utsugi’ (variegated). None have crossed my path.


The AGM refers to Award of Garden Merit given by The Royal Horticultural Society, England. The Abelia trial was conducted from 2004 to 2009. Criteria for the award are:

·       Excellent for ordinary garden use

·       Available

·       Reasonably resistant to pests

·       Of good constitution

·       Essentially stable in form and color

·       Reasonably easy to grow


Worth noting that two of my unpatented Georgia introductions, ‘Canyon Creek’ and ‘Rose Creek’, both named by Mark Griffith, received this noteworthy designation. Do AGM’s help to sell plants? I don’t know! They do provide a measure of confidence for the consumer.