How to plant and care for abelia
All you need to know about growing, planting and caring for abelias, in our Grow Guide.
Abelia is an attractive shrub with many appealing qualities – it’s long flowering, scented and is often evergreen. It has arching branches with pretty flowers that are usually pink, white or a reddish pink with glossy green leaves.
These shrubs are native to the Himalayas, East Asia and Mexico and are popular in the UK for their foliage and scented flowers. Many abelias are evergreen or semi-evergreen, although some like Abelia chinensis are deciduous and lose their leaves over winter. If you’re looking for year-round interest, choose an evergreen variety such as Abelia x grandiflora, which keeps its leaves for much of the year and has small, pale pink flowers. Other evergreen varieties include Abelia floribunda with bright pink flowers and Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’, which is semi evergreen lilac pink flowers and bronze autumn colour
Abelia will grow to between 2.5m to 4m tall, depending on variety, over a period of around 10 years.
How to grow abelia
Abelia are fairly low-maintenance once planted. They do best in a warm position out of cold winds and suffer in wet, waterlogged ground. Water regularly after planting and prune after flowering. In autumn mulch around your shrub to keep moisture in the soil.
Where to grow abelia
Grow abelia in a sunny spot in well-drained soil. Choose a planting site where your plant will be sheltered from cold winds. If you’re planting a species that isn’t very hardy, choose a spot next to a warm wall.
How to plant abelia
The best time to plant evergreen shrubs is in either autumn or spring, when the soil is warm. For deciduous abelia varieties, plant them any time between autumn and spring, but avoid planting when the ground is waterlogged or frozen. If you buy a shrub in a container, you can plant it any of time of year but between autumn and spring is the best time, and avoid planting during hot weather.
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To plant a shrub, first dig over the soil, removing any weeds and stones. Dig a hole that's a bit deeper than the plant’s pot and three times its width. Use a garden fork to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole. Carefully remove your shrub from its pot and tease out the roots if they have been tightly packed in the pot. Plant abelia at the same level that it was in the pot. Fill in around the plant with soil and firm in well. Water well.
How to care for abelia
Water newly planted abelias regularly until they are established. Keep them in shape by cutting back after flowering (see pruning). The best time to feed shrubs is in spring. Mulch between autumn and spring to keep moisture in the soil.
How to propagate abelia
You can make more abelia plants by taking cuttings, either softwood cuttings in early summer or hardwood cuttings in late summer.
How to take softwood cuttings
1. Remove a shoot from your shrub, just above a leaf on the plant, longer than your finished cutting will be
2. The cutting should be no longer than 10cm – trim your cutting just below a leaf joint and remove all the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting
3. Cut off the top halves of the leaves that are left on the cutting. This reduces water loss from the cutting
4. Push cuttings into a 7cm pot of cuttings compost, keeping the lower leaves just above the compost. Cover with a polythene bag and place in a sunny spot until the cuttings have rooted
How to prune abelia
Cut out any dead or damaged wood in the spring. Then deadhead regularly to encourage more flowers through summer. After flowering, in late autumn, tidy up the shrub by trimming any flowered shoots to tidy and reshape the shrub. If you live in a particularly cold area, this job can be done in spring. If you have an old, overgrown shrub, you can rejuvenate it by pruning some of the oldest, thickest stems from the base using a pruning saw or loppers. Remove up to a third of the stems and cut back any crossing branches.
Growing abelia: pests and diseases
This is an easy to grow shrub, as it isn’t affected by any particular pests and diseases. To keep abelia healthy and less susceptible to pests and diseases, plant it in a location that suits it – sunny with fertile soil.
Advice on buying abelia
- Autumn and spring are the best times to plant a new shrub, while the soil is warm. Avoid planting while the ground is waterlogged or frozen
- Inspect your plant before buying – check for pests and diseases and that there is no damage such as broken branches
- You should be able to find abelia in good garden centres and nurseries but there is also a good choice online, especially if you are looking for a specific variety