Abelia is a semi-evergreen shrub found in many gardens. It is appreciated for its small, glossy leaves, its round or sprawling form and its little, trumpet-shaped flowers. Abelia is easy to grow and is an abundant bloomer. Not a heavy feeder, abelia still benefits from proper fertilization to ensure regular growth and consistent flowering.
Abelia is reliably hardy in USDA Zones 6 to 9. Plant in full sun or part shade in moist, well-drained soil. Soil should be amended with compost to improve drainage and contribute natural nutrition. If abelia is cut back after flowering, it will grow fuller and produce more flowers the following year. Irrigation is needed during drought. Depending on the variety, abelia will grow 3 to 6 feet tall and wide.
The nutritional needs of abelia are average for flowering shrubs. Nitrogen helps produce green, leafy growth. Phosphorus aids in flower production. Soils rich in organic matter, such as composted manure, naturally fertilize abelia and reduce the need for fertilization.
Abelia soils should be slightly acidic to neutral--about pH 6.5. Proper pH ensures good nutrient uptake. Acidify alkaline soils with iron sulfate or aluminum sulfate. Alternately, increasing organic matter in the soil will neutralize slightly alkaline soils. Highly acidic soils can be modified with lime.
Use a balanced garden fertilizer. Balanced fertilizers contain roughly equal amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). N-P-K ratios should be about 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. Apply the fertilizer in early spring, after the last frost. Gently scratch it into the soil or apply 1 or 2 inches of mulch to keep the granules from washing away in rain. If faster growth is desired, a second feeding can be applied in mid-summer.
Increase organic matter by top dressing the soil with compost in the spring. Replenishing mulch each spring contributes nutrition as it breaks down. Bone meal, scratched into the soil, slowly releases phosphorus to increase flowering. Fish emulsion, seafood compost and blood meal are natural nutrient products. Use them according to label directions.