How to Prune Abelia
Abelia is a flowering perennial shrub that throws sweetly fragrant white and pink blooms throughout the summer and fall. Abelia’s glossy semi-evergreen foliage makes a dramatic backdrop to the blooms, and changes from rich green to bronze in the fall creating winter interest. Hardy in USDA zones 6 though 9, abelia thrives in full sun to partial shade exposures and will grow well in a woodland garden with at least some dappled sunlight. It is very low maintenance and requires little and infrequent pruning.
Hard prune your abelia in the spring if needed after the last hard frost. Cut away any damaged or potentially diseased branches. Look for any branches that cross or abrade one another, and prune them to prevent the invitation of disease and pests to a wound site in the cambium. Though abelia rarely requires pruning, overgrown or misshapen shrubs can be pruned of up to one-third of their bulk to create a new architecture for the plant. Bloom performance in that current season will be affected, but the shrub will recover for bloom the following season.
Maintenance prune your abelia lightly as needed throughout the growing season. Routinely inspect for and remove damaged or diseased foliage and lingering spent blooms. Abelia blossoms are long lasting and when they fade tend to fall easily off the plants in a self-cleaning fashion. Any blooms that are stuck on the plant foliage can simply be plucked off or brushed away with your hand to maintain a neat appearance.
Water and feed your abelia to minimize the shock after pruning. Keep the soil at the roots evenly moist at all times. Fertilize your abelia in the spring before the buds break open with a good quality general purpose and water soluble fertilizer, such as MiracleGro. Apply according to the manufacturers dosing instructions over pre-watered soil to prevent burn and speed nutrient uptake.
Develop a plan for annual pruning of abelias
Question: What’s the best way to prune a hedge of overgrown abelias?
Answer: Careful pruning of an abelia makes the difference between a twiggy mess and a handsome shrub. If your abelias are left unpruned for several years, they will produce large numbers of weak, short, thin stems and much poorer flowers in terms of both size and quantity.
According to “The Pruner’s Bible”by Steve Bradley (Rodale Press), remedial (note, this is remedial) pruning in summer consists of removing from the base up to one-third of the weakest and thinnest shoots to prevent overcrowding. Follow up next spring by cutting all the stems back to within 6 to 8 inches of ground level. This will encourage new shoots to develop from the plant’s base.
Develop a plan for routine annual pruning after flowering. Cut out about one-quarter of the existing stems (choose the ones that look the oldest). Either cut them back to a healthy pair of buds or down to ground level.
Lycoris bulbs popping up in the landscape
Question: We recently moved to an older home. Earlier this week, a stalk (no leaves) sprang up almost overnight and produced a showy cluster of flowers. Petals are pinkish, very narrow, only slightly united into a tube where they’re attached at the base, curve backward, have wavy margins and while five petals are in one plane the other is “out of place.” Any ideas?
Answer: Your description matches the common name of your plant. It is commonly called magic lily, surprise lily or naked (nekkid lady in Mississippi).
Its botanical name is Lycoris squamigera, and it is better adapted to areas north of here than other lycoris bulbs. It is usually found in older or shade gardens. Many consider this plant to be an amaryllis (it’s in the amaryllis family) and use the names you indicated.
L. squamigera has numerous other common names including cluster amaryllis, hurricane lily, pink lycoris, pink magic lily, pink spider lily and surprise lily. While most of the “surprise” lilies bloom in September and October, L. squamigerablooms as early as July.
Try a different soil mix
Question: Whenever I plant a succulent, it dies.
Answer: Use less water and mix sand and a little Osmocote into the potting soil, according to Fine Gardening magazine.
Staking sometimes traumatizes trees
Most young trees do not need staking to hold them upright. In fact, staking trees can traumatize trunks, causing more harm than good. Support your young tree only if it is exposed to strong winds or, for reasons of its own, it insists on leaning sideways.
A short stake no longer than one-third of the height of the tree, produces a tree that is free to flex its trunk in the wind and encourages thickening near the base of the trunk. This results in a tree that is able to fend for itself when the stake is removed.
From the Lafayette Garden Clubs 2014-15 Yearbook.
Nature and Garden Exposition today
The Lafayette Parish Master Gardeners will sponsor a Nature and Garden Exposition today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sugar Mill Pond, Youngsville. Attendees will be able to shop for unique and interesting plants, garden accessories, nature themed pottery, art and a signature poster for sale created by the Cajun Picasso.
There will be a variety of children’s activities and plant-related demonstrations. Musicians will play throughout the day. Local food trucks and restaurants will have food for sale.
A Master Gardener representative will be on site to assist with plant questions. Admission and parking for the Plant Sale and the Nature Exposition are free. Detailed information can be found at plantfest.org.
Know to Grow to open fall series
Guest speaker Mary Courville, former KLFY “Plant Lady,” will open the Know to Grow Fall Seminar Series at 10 a.m. Sept. 27. Courville will speak on Louisiana Natives, Naturalizers & Cut Flower at All Seasons Nursery, 2974 Johnston St. Seminars are held on Saturday mornings and are free and open to the public.
Earthshare Gardens to offer locally produced Sunday Brunch
A fundraiser on Sept. 28 will support the diverse efforts of Earthshare Gardens, including donations of fresh food to local food banks and soup kitchens, our CSA, and Community Roots projects to get gardens into neighborhoods and communities. For tickets and other information visit bit.ly/ESGbrunch.
To send questions or comments to Acadiana Gardening, email [email protected] Ann’s books, “Ornamental Gardening in Acadiana,” and “Blooming Trees and Shrubs of the Coastal South,” are available at local plant nurseries and from Amazon.com.