Growing the Abelia and the Abutilon

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The Abelia is a half-hardy flowering shrub, which is both evergreen and deciduous.

The abelias are extremely graceful shrubs flowering in late summer and early autumn. The species Abelia chinensis and Abelia Schu-manni are deciduous, while Abelia floribunda and Abelia grandiflora are evergreen. Of these Abelia grandiflora is probably the hardiest.

In terms of cultivating the Abelia, all thrive in a well-drained loamy soil and are not in the least difficult to grow providing they are not unduly ex�posed to severe frosts during the winter. For this reason they are most suited to the milder parts of the country. Around London, in the Midlands, and in the North abelias should, if possible, be given a sheltered position, as, for example, a border protected on the north by a wall or hedge. They appre�all the sun they can get, and regular pruning is not necessary, but it is advisable to remove the old flower-heads when they have faded, while an occasional thinning in March to prevent overcrowding will do good.

The deciduous abelias may be planted at any time from late October till early March, but the evergreen should, if possible, be planted rather earlier or later, as the case may be, than this. The ideal timing for them is early October and late April.

Propagating abelias can be done by cuttings about 3 or 4 inches in length of firm young growth will root readily if inserted in very sandy soil or even pure sand in a close frame during July. If in pure sand it is necessary to water very freely until rooted. Alternatively cuttings 9 inches to 12 inches in length prepared from well-ripened young growth can be rooted in a cold frame or even outside in a sheltered border in September.

The Abutilon are greenhouse and half-hardy ever�green shrubs.

One species, Abutilon vitifolium, may be grown outdoors without protection in the milder parts of the country. In exposed districts it will require some shelter, and even so is liable to be cut to the ground in very severe weather. The other species are grown as greenhouse shrubs or small climbers and are also used for sub-tropical bedding out�doors from June to September,but they still must be in a warm place free from cold winds.

In terms of cultivation the Abutilon vitifolium should be planted in well-drained soil, preferably of a light, loamy character. It must always be given a sunny position. If possible, plants should be purchased in pots so that they may be established with as little root disturbance as possible. October and April are suitable months for transplanting. If allowed to grow naturally, this abutilon is apt to get rather leggy and bare at the base, so to correct this the younger shoots should be shortened by about one-third in February.

The greenhouse species and hybrids thrive in a compost of two parts good fibrous loam, one part peat, and a little sand. Abutilon megapotanicum, another vigorous kind, may be planted out in the greenhouse border and trained against the back wall or around one of the roof supports. The less vigorous kinds are best grown in pots and treated as small specimens. The two most important points in the successful culture of abutilons are the provision of adequate drainage and an abundant water supply during the summer months. In winter a temperature of from 45 deg. to 50 deg. should be maintained, but during the summer no artificial heat will be necessary. Plants that are to be used for summer bedding should not be put outdoors until the first week in June, as they are susceptible to frost. During late spring and early summer regular applications of weak liquid manure will improve the plants.

The species, including Abutilon vitifolium, may be readily increased by seeds sown during early March in light sandy compost and germinated in a green�house in a temperature of 60 degrees. The garden hybrids do not breed true from seed and must be propagated during the spring or early summer from cuttings of fairly firm side shoots inserted in very sandy soil and rooted in a propagating box with steady bottom heat.

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Author: Ian SG Smith
Ian has a great interest in gardening and writes occasional articles. Come and visit his newest website at www.krupscoffeepods.com, and look particularly at the www.krupscoffeepods.com/coffee-pod-machine.html

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