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Try This Abelia As a Replacement for Boxwood

A long bloom time and compact growth habit combine to make this hardy shrub a winner for foundation plantings, mixed beds and low hedges. It needs no pruning to maintain its tidy shape, furthering its value as a semi-evergreen, flowering alternative to boxwood (Buxus). Pollinator-friendly spring flowers and colorful fall foliage round out its appeal. It was named to the Philadelphia Horticultural Society's Gold Medal Plant list in 2022.


Common name: ‘Little Richard’ glossy abelia

Botanical name: Linnaea x grandiflora 'Little Richard', syn. Abelia x grandiflora ‘Little Richard’

Exposure: Full sun to part shade.

Flowers: Rounded clusters of tubular pink-tinged white flowers appear in spring to early summer, drawing butterflies and hummingbirds. The flower buds are produced on the year's new growth.

Foliage: Semi-evergreen, with a dark green color during the growing season. The leaves take on a pinkish orange tint in the fall and linger through much of the winter.

Habit: Grows to three feet tall and wide, with a mounded form.

Origin: 'Little Richard' is a cultivar of the hybrid Abelia x grandiflora, reclassified as Linnaea x grandiflora, which was developed by crossing two species from Asia.

How to grow it: Despite the delicate appearance created by this shrub’s dainty flowers and foliage, it is a tough grower that adapts to various soil types and can tolerate dry spells once established. Provide full sun to part shade. USDA Zones 6–9.

Image credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0