How to cultivate the Abelia
The Abelia is a genus of plants of the Caprifoliaceae family that includes 15-20 evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubs, originating in China, Japan and Mexico. Among these, the species normally cultivated for ornamental purposes in parks and gardens is the Abelia grandiflora which is a hybrid with a roundish habit that can reach a height and width of 100-120 cm, with long stems, scarcely branched, reddish in color that tend to arch and lengthen.
It has oval, serrated, small leaves, with a leathery texture and a dark green and glossy color; the new leaves are bronze colored, a color that in autumn takes on the whole plant. It blooms during the summer with small white-pinkish trumpet flowers, which persist until the first colds; the fruit is a woody achene, which contains a single seed. In this sheet we will see how to cultivate the Abelia with the most appropriate agronomic techniques and tricks.
For the choice of the area where to cultivate the Abelia, consider that the plant prefers positions in full sun or, at the limit, in partial shade; it is a species that tolerates the cold well even if it is better to locate positions sheltered from the cold winter winds. However, it is a rather rustic shrub that can adapt to different situations. To give greater protection from winter cold, you can choose to drastically prune the plant at the base, during the autumn to favor a more compact and vigorous development the following spring.
As far as the type of soil is concerned, consider that the abelias grow without problems in any soil, but to obtain greater vigor and more abundant flowering it is necessary to supply the plant with good quantities of organic substance or soils particularly per se rich in humus. Another characteristic to note is the good drainage of the soil.
Before planting the young seedlings it is therefore necessary to prepare a large hole, placing on the bottom coarse sand, good balanced soil and well-mixed organic fertilizer, in order to favor a rapid rooting.
Moreover in the vegetative period (already at the beginning of spring) it is necessary to provide organic fertilizer to be mixed in the first layers of soil. As for the planting period, the most suitable period is that of the months of October and November even if it is possible to proceed in other moments but avoiding scorching heat and frost. In mountainous areas or at higher latitudes, where temperatures drop below -10 ° C it is good to plant at the end of February or early March, waiting for the end of winter frosts.
Irrigation is then necessary for young plants; the adult plants can instead endure some days of drought without problems; for this reason, in the period from March to October it is possible to irrigate sporadically, once a week; with the arrival of cold weather watering can be drastically reduced, without however suspending it completely, in the case of prolonged drought, as the abelia is an evergreen plant.
As far as propagation is concerned, we can also start from seed, in the spring period with an exception regarding the Abelia grandiflora which multiplies instead by cutting, taking portions of stem in spring, which must be rooted in a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts; new plants should be grown in a container for at least a couple of years before they can be planted.
We see the form of farming and pruning; in general pruning is not necessary except to eliminate the driest parts; or, in the autumn period, resort to a more drastic pruning to allow the plant to renew itself. Furthermore, as for other shrubs, always eliminating dry and damaged branches it is advisable to let the plant take on its spontaneous shape. If we also want to create an Abelia hedge, we need to leave 50 to 100 cm of distance between one plant and another depending on the final size of the cultivar.
Finally the phytosanitary question. These plants are usually very hardy and are not frequently attacked by pests or diseases, but can be affected by aphids or mealybugs, especially in conditions of excessive vegetation and if, wrongly, you have made nitric fertilizers that make plant tissues particularly appetites to these insects. to counter them it is advisable to use natural methods with an infusion of garlic to be sprayed on the leaves.