Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) is valued for its clusters of bright blooms and pleasant rounded shape, and is an especially good choice for butterfly gardens, as butterflies will love the sweetly-scented flowers. Once established, abelia is nearly maintenance-free, and will thrive and stay green all year in USDA zones 8 and 9. Although abelia will grow in zones 5 through 7, the shrub will be smaller, and may die back in the winter and regrow in spring. Plant abelia in full sunlight or partial shade.
Spread 2 to 3 inches of organic material such as compost or manure on top of the soil. Use a tiller or a spade to work the organic material into the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. If the soil drains poorly, add up to 6 inches of organic material.
Dig a hole in the prepared area, using a shovel. The hole should be only as deep as the shrub's root ball, but two to three times wider. The shrub should be planted at the same soil depth at which it was planted in the nursery container, as shrubs planted too deeply are vulnerable to root rot.
Remove the abelia carefully from the nursery container. Place the shrub in the hole and fill the hole with the same soil. Water the shrub immediately to settle the soil around the roots. If necessary, add more soil.
Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the shrub. An organic mulch such as pine needles or bark chips will retain moisture and keep the soil temperature even. As the mulch decomposes, it will enrich the soil.
Water abelia deeply, saturating the soil whenever the soil feels slightly dry to the touch. Although abelia is drought-tolerant, the soil shouldn't be allowed to become either soggy or bone dry.
Fertilize abelia once every year in late February. Use a fertilizer for rhododendrons and azaleas, applied according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
Trim abelia any time of year, if needed, using pruners. Although abelia rarely requires pruning, a light trim can rein in a plant outgrowing its boundaries.