Abelia (Glossy abelia) is a fragrant shrub, which originated in Mexico, the Himalayas, and East Asia. It was named after Dr. Clarke Abel, who was a member of an expedition to China in 1817. The modern shrub is actually a hybrid produced in the 19th century.
Growing on gracefully arching branches, this plant can reach a height of 3 – 6 feet (0.9 – 1.8 m). I like the fact that it has a long period of flourishing. That means that you can enjoy the fragrant, bell-shaped, white-tinged-pink, 0.75 inched (1.9 cm) long blooms from May to September.
The Most Popular Variation of Abelia
Abelia is a plant of choice in landscape design. Wherever you plant it, this bush will beautify every piece of your garden. Use them to form formal hedges, organize colorful borders, or cover the slopes.
No matter what type of this exotic plant you choose, it will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. That will make Abelia an ideal choice for your theme garden, including the butterfly and hummingbird ones.
Even in the period when this bush doesn’t bloom, it is attractive thanks to its dark-green, glossy foliage covering elegant arching branches.
The most popular varieties of Abelia
|Edward Goucher||Lavender-pink flowers||Glossy, dark-green leaves||
3 to 5 feet (0.9 – 1.5 m)
|Pale pink flowers||Lance-shaped, gold-yellow leaves||3 to 5 feet (0.9 – 1.5 m)|
|Sherwoodii||White – flushed pink flowers||Small, fine-textured leaves, which turn purplish in winter||
4 feet (1.2 m)
|White flowers||Glossy, vivid green leaves||3 feet (91 cm)|
|Compacta||White flowers||Evergreen leaves||
3 feet (91 cm)
|Pink flowers||Green leaves that turn purplish in fall||3 feet (91 cm)|
|Sunrise||White flowers||Yellow leaf margins with the dark green center||
3 feet (91 cm)
|White flowers||White-pink-green leaves||2 to 3 feet (61 – 91 cm)|
|Kaleidoscope||White flowers||Golden-yellow and green leaves||
2 feet (61 cm)
|Pure white flowers||Leaves are margined white and become pinkish in winter||2 feet (61 cm)|
|Prostrata||White flowers||Green pointed leaves||
1.5 feet (76 cm)
How to Plant Glossy Abelia in Your Garden
There are two types of cuttings of Abelia you can propagate. Early summer is a period for planting softwood cuttings, while semi-hardwood ones are better planting in late summer.
Planting Abelia in the garden
Dig a hole at least two times wider and deeper than the root ball, and fill it with the native soil. If the soil in your garden is impoverished, you should mix compost or high-quality organic matter to enrich it.
On the other hand, if the ground is very sandy, you should add peat moss to keep it well-drained and moist.
Remove your cuttings from the pot and gently loosen their feeder roots. Set a young shrub in the hole and take care to leave the top edge of the root ball slightly above the level of the ground. Fill the hole with the rest of soil mixture and tamp gently to remove remained air pockets.
Water it abundantly. If you need to stimulate root formation, add a solution of root stimulator before filling the hole. Finally, apply a 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) thick layer of mulch around the plant, but take care to avoid direct contact with a stem to prevent rot. The best options for this purpose are pine straw and chipped wood.
Planting Abelia in a container
If you decide to grow Abelia in a container, you should provide the well-drained, but moist soil. Keep in mind that keeping the ground too soggy will probably cause root rot and fungal diseases. Therefore, purchase the pot with enough drainage holes.
You will need a quality mix for your new plant, but you can also mix it with the regular soil at the 50:50 ratios. Adding some Perlite is a good idea if you need to improve the drainage of the ground.
Don’t forget to pick out the container large enough for two to three years of undisturbed growth. Consider the pot-size of 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter for a start. If you want to get full atmosphere, choose the right color of it to fit the style of your house.
Put gravel on the bottom and add the soil. Set Abelia on it the way that the top of the root ball is at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the rim of the container. Then fill it with earth to the top.
Water thoroughly, add more soil mixture if necessary, and apply a 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick layer of wood chips to the surface to keep the ground moist.
How to Care Glossy Abelia
Abelia can grow in different types of soil but prefer well-drained sand, chalk, or loam. Try to keep the ground moist, but be aware that soggy soil can cause fungal diseases and root rot. Therefore, it is crucial to get the soil tested.
The process of testing is not too complicated but requires some time. Grab a garden shovel, dig a hole 12 x 12 inches (30.5 x 30.5 cm) in the planting area, and fill it with water.
After letting it drain, you should add water again. This time you need to determine how long the soil takes to drain. The average time to get an empty hole is 1 inch (2.5 cm) an hour if the ground is well-drained.
Loose, sandy soil will have a faster rate, which means that it will require more often control of the level of humidity. The problem is if the ground in your yard has a slow rate, which means that it has poor draining abilities.
The other thing you should test is the pH of the soil. It is not a big deal nowadays, and you just need a soil pH tester probe. If you need to make the ground more alkaline, solve the problem by adding limestone.
On the other hand, apply sulfur, chelated iron, or aluminum sulfate if you should increase acidity. Or simply add a layer of compost as mulch, and solve the problem on an organic way.
You can also grow Abelia in a pot, but it needs regular pruning as well as repotting every two to three years.
Abelia will grow best if you plant it in full sun, but it can tolerate part shade as well. My advice is to provide at least six hours of direct sunlight a day to get a plant with abundant blooms and dense, green leaves.
The well-established plant is quite tolerant of drought and heat during hot summer days. However, when the temperatures are below 0 F (-18 C), you may find significant damage to its stems. Therefore, avoid growing Abelia in a region with extreme winters.
At planting time and during the first season after planting, your flower will need frequent watering. It will stimulate a proper formation of the root. Keep in mind that your young plant can dry out quickly left without a necessary amount of liquid.
The well-established shrub is drought-tolerant and doesn’t need too much water. On average, it will need one deep watering once a week throughout the blooming season. Reduce watering in winter to avoid root rot.
As you probably know, your plant growing in containers will require more watering. Water it as soon as the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the ground becomes dry.
Abelia is not a demanding plant if we are talking about fertilizing. It will be enough to add granulated, slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer in late winter to encourage its healthy and vigorous growth.
In some regions, it is recommended applying water-soluble fertilizer once a month throughout the blooming season. If you grow this plant in a pot, feed it more often throughout spring and summer.
Mulch your Abelia in late winter, after fertilizing. Another period for this activity is late spring, but you need to check if the ground is moist enough. Mulching over too dry land won’t give the desired results. If you do it appropriately, mulch will protect your plant from weeds and drying.
Pruning and deadheading
Abelia doesn’t require regular pruning, but regular cutting woody or damaged branches at least once in three to four years will be beneficial. Plus, this is an excellent way to help it keeps its formal shape, rejuvenate itself, or reduce its size.
An ideal period for pruning is in early spring. However, if you want to get plenty of flowers on your shrub, you shouldn’t prune it extensively. Avoid this action two months before the first frost in the region you live in.
You should also cut spent flowers. That way, you will encourage abundant blooming and shape your plant at the same time. Plus, you can prune back stray branches with hand pruners at any time.
If you want to shape Abelia as a hedge, you need a hedge trimmer to prune it a few times throughout the growing season. From time to time, you should rejuvenate your shrub. Do it in late winter during the period of dormancy.
In that case, you should cut it to a height of 6 to 12 inches (15 – 30.5 cm) above the surface of the ground. In spring, you will see new shoots growing from old branches. Keep in mind that you can kill a weak plant if you cut it too severe.
Glossy Abelia Pests and Diseases
Fortunately, Abelia is highly resistant to most pests and diseases. I will list you some issues you may face with.
Water excess or deficit
Inappropriate watering is the most common cause of damaging gardening plants. If you water your plant too often and the soil is poorly drained, you will get inadequate airflow.
The results are reduced flowering and fading foliage, which will start wilting over time and die eventually.
The deficiency of essential minerals will cause chlorosis or necrosis on the tip of your plant. Consequently, you will get a shrub full of faded, discolored, spotted, and distorted leaves.
The most common reasons are the deficiency of iron or nitrogen. The problem is a lack of these minerals in the soil. Also, it may happen than the roots are not adequately developed, or the ground is waterlogged. In these cases, the plant will have no ability to use nutrients available in the soil.
Excess of minerals
Applied incorrectly, especially in excess amounts, salt, many nutrients, and most pesticides are toxic to your plant. One of the main problems is that one mineral in excess concentrations usually reduces the availability of the other one.
The results are dieback of leaves and branches, as well as problems with pests. Avoid possible problems by providing excellent drainage of the ground, applying adequate fertilizer, and preventing root diseases.
These roundworms feed on the roots of Abelia and cause distinctive galls (swellings) of the affected roots. You can’t get rid of these creatures, but you can prevent the damage.
Choose to grow the right variety of the plant suitable for the region where you live and rotate crops regularly. The timely application of the sanitary measures can also help.