If I had to choose just one landscape shrub, it would be glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora). In USDA plant hardiness zones 6 though 9, abelia is semi-evergreen according to North Carolina State Cooperative Extension. Abelia grows in most of the continental U.S., exclusive of states with severe winters such as North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and northern Maine.
Why I prefer abelia
As a landscape shrub, the canes of abelia produce trumpet-shaped blooms of that are white to pinkish in color. Better yet, the blooms are fragrant and appear from early summer into late fall. The blooms attract bees and butterflies. Abelia grows 6 to 8 feet tall in full sun to part shade. In my area, USDA zone 7, the loamy soil proved to be the perfect setting for abelia. The shrub grew taller than 8 feet. It was one day when I found myself snipping the tops of the shrubs from inside the house through a second floor window that I decided it was too tall. I cut the shrubs to about 8 inches above the ground in mid-summer. The following year, the shrubs grew several feet high.
Plant abelia shrubs in early fall or early spring. Choose a sunny to partial shade location in the landscape to plant abelia, which grows well in most soil conditions without amending the soil. Abelia shrubs can grow 6 to 8 feet wide with a base narrower than the fountain-like top. Because of that, you can set the shrubs 3 to 5 feet apart. I planted my shrubs at one end of the porch to create privacy. Small leaves cover the canes of the shrub, providing a subtle screen while still allowing some light and breeze to pass through.
Dig the hole for the shrub twice as wide as the root ball (plant container). Dig the hole as deep as the root ball is tall. Remove the shrub from the container and place it in the center of the hole. The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding ground. Backfill the hole with the soil removed from the hole. Water deeply. Spread 3 to 4 inches of mulch, like pine chips or leaf mold, around the shrub to hold in moisture and help block weed growth.
|Faded blooms on glassy abelia.|
If planting in the fall, water about every 10 days if there is no rainfall and then stop watering at the first hard frost. In the spring the following year, and if planting in the spring, if there is no rainfall, water every two weeks in spring and fall. Water more frequently in the summer, which may mean watering every seven to 10 days. The following year, rainfall alone should be enough, especially since the abelia shrub is drought tolerant.
Prune to retain a shape by cutting back up to one-third of the shrub after it finishes blooming. Use hand pruners or hedge clippers. As mentioned above, cut the shrub almost to the ground for a fresh start if desired.