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Native to China and parts of Mexico, the abelia genus of shrubs are any of more than two dozen species that most botanists consider members of the Caprifoliaceae honeysuckle family. Several cultivars of this genus' cornerstone species, the Chinese Abelia chinensis, have become popular landscaping choices across the globe, no doubt due to the plant's long-blooming flowers and mostly evergreen leaves. Rose Creek Abelia is one such cultivar, with white flowers set in tiny pink sepals and deeply green leaves.
The Rose Creek Abelia species may not exist without the work of a British botany enthusiast and doctor, Clarke Abel, nor would it be named abelia. At the beginning of the 19th century, Abel was returning from China on a ship that sank, destroying the plants he was bringing home to chronicle academically. Abel survived, sent for more plants, and ultimately became the western namesake of Abelia chinensis. A few centuries more of further discoveries and hybrid cultivars have yielded at least 30 more species of abelia bushes.
Other types of abelia shrubs may be better suited for freezing temperatures than the Rose Creek Abelia. This plant is suitable for mostly hot climates; for instance, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones seven to nine, encompassing much of America's Deep South. For the plant to thrive, its soil should be kept moist, with full or nearly full sun overhead. Rose Creek will bloom lightly in the spring, then get thick with white flowers through most of the summer and fall. Some gardeners protect these plants with wind screening during any short periods of freezing cold.
Hybridization has led to new species in recent decades. Aside from the Rose Creek Abelia, another popular hybrid is called Abelia x grandiflora, or glossy abelia. This latter plant is a mix between A. chinensis and A. uniflora. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Linnaeus Teaching Garden cultivated a range of abelia hybrids in 2011 — plants with names like Canyon Creek, Gold Dust, Hopley's Variegated and Kaleidoscope. This trend continues to swell the ranks of the genus, which is sold in nurseries around the globe.
The climate largely determines whether Rose Creek Abelia is evergreen. In cold weather, foliage might get sparse in the winter, particularly without weather protection. During warmer weather, winter might trigger a darkening of the leaves to a deep shade of purple, but not much shedding. This plant can grow as tall as an adult human in the warmest weather.
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