How about one that blooms for several months and attracts butterflies?
And while we're at it, how about one that has beautiful fall foliage but also keeps most of its leaves in the winter?
Believe it or not, there is such a shrub - the under-appreciated and often over-looked Glossy Abelia.
|Abelia 'Little Richard'|
Abelias bloom for several months throughout the summer and into early fall. Depending on the type, the trumpet-shaped blooms may be white, pink, or lavender and are clustered at the end of the branches.
|'Little Richard' Abelia sports white flowers.|
|Monarch butterfly on Abelia.|
|'Little Richard' Abelia in fall - many of the leaves have turned a reddish-orange color.|
You might not recognize those bushes under the trees, but they are Abelias. They've just been pruned into rounded lumps.
|Abelias pruned this way will not bloom.|
Well, as previously mentioned, Abelias do not do so well in colder climates. Some cultivars are hardier than others. Additionally, cultivars like 'Little Richard' and 'Sherwoodii' will occasionally send out abnormally tall shoots straight out of the middle, a reversion to the species.
|Abnormal shoots in the middle of 'Little Richard' Abelia. Notice that they are straight instead of arching.|
Pruning Abelias: Do not just take hedge clippers to Abelias and shear them - they will just branch there and look strange instead of arching gracefully (believe me, I've done it!) Instead, prune by cutting the oldest or straggliest branches way back to the ground. If the whole bush is starting to look really sad and leggy, you can try cutting the whole bush back to a foot or two high to rejuvenate it. Prune Abelias in winter, as they bloom on new growth.
Some popular Abelias varieties are Abelia x grandiflora (8 feet tall with white flowers), 'Edward Goucher' (pink flowers), and 'Kaleidoscope' (colorful, variegated leaves and white flowers). My Abelia 'Little Richard' get up to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide, despite being touted as a dwarf cultivar.
So if you need a sun loving shrub that will grow in challenging conditions, check out Abelias. They might be the shrub for you.