Cutting Back Abelia Plants: How And When To Prune Abelia

by johnah on November 21, 2020

The following information was taken from the book “Cutting Back Abelia Plants” by David J. Givens (Alfalfa Books).

Prune Leggy Abelia With Care!

When pruning leggy abelias, it’s best to do so at night when they are least likely to climb up your arm or reach into your pocket. If you have a large enough space, then you could even put them in a box and leave them out overnight.

You don’t want to cut off all their branches since some will grow back anyway, but if they are getting too big for your taste, just trim them down to the point where they no longer look like a giant tree. You may need to remove one branch at a time until it looks like an ordinary abelia again.

If you really must keep them all the same size, then you can use a pair of scissors to trim off any extra branches. Just make sure not to get any of the roots in the cutting!

It’s always better to let them grow out than trying to cut them down later. They’ll probably come back around eventually. You might consider keeping some as houseplants instead if they’re going to stay small for long periods of time.

I hope this helps. Let me know how things work out for you.

Renovation Pruning

I don’t have too much experience with renovation pruning, but I have heard of it being used on other plants. The theory is that you prune off everything down to the ground and hope to get smaller (but bushier) plants with more blooms next year.

It sounds like it would work on anything and has the possibility of working particularly well with older plants. I don’t think it’s necessarily better than normal pruning, but I guess it might be worth a try if you don’t want to keep dealing with pruning them every year.

Good luck with your abelias!

Happy Growing,


Kaleidoscope Abelia Water Shoots

I’ve never grown these, but if you want them to bloom more then you might want to try keeping them evenly moist. Really wet or really dry soil won’t contribute to more blooms. I also recommend feeding them a high phosphorus fertilizer. You can find some at your local garden center designed for flowering plants. Hope this helps!


Abelia Grandiflora Varieties

I’ve never grown this species before, but I know the plant tends to bloom less as it gets older. It’s always best to keep it evenly moist and make sure it isn’t in too much sun or shade. If this doesn’t help then you might need to do some renovation pruning on it. This means that you cut everything off down to about a one inch stub and then let it grow back as it will. It’s always best to get the okay from a local gardening center if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

I hope this information helps. Have a great day!

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Abelia Grandiflora Pruning

My sister had an abelia grandiflora in her yard and it never bloomed for her. She was told by an arboretum that the plant was probably over 5 years old and needed to be renovated pruned. Apparently this is a common practice with this type of plant. They prune everything back to an inch off the ground every few years to keep them from getting leggy. The theory is that it forces the plant to branch out more and produce more blooms.

She pruned it back and it did cause more blooms, but they were all at the top and it lost its nice bushy shape.

I hope this helps!


More on Pruning:

At this point, I’m a little concerned. Just cutting off everything to the ground seems like it would cause the whole thing to die. Maybe I have misheard them.

Still, before I call them, I do some research on the internet and find that many people seem to be doing renovations on their Abelia. I also see that it doesn’t just create more blooms, but also causes the plant to bush out more and generally become fuller.

I decide to call the arboretum before I make any drastic changes.

Arboretum: ” Arbor what?”

Me: “Arboretum.”

Arboretum: “Are you trying to pronounce ‘arborvitae’?”

Me: “Yes.”

Arboretum: “Then why don’t you just say ‘arborvitae’?

That’s what everyone else calls us.”

At this point, I realize that this conversation is going nowhere. Apparently the arborvitae people are very sensitive about their name. I try to explain what I’m calling about, but they don’t seem to understand, and we go in circles for a while. Finally, they tell me that they can’t help me and that I should call a nursery.

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Nursery: “Yeah, you’ll have to cut it all back. That’s the only way to get it to re-bush out.” Me: “I was concerned about that. The internet says that it will re-bush and that it will make the plant fuller, but none of them say that it will kill the plant.” Nursery: “It shouldn’t if you do it right.

Look, you probably don’t want to hear this, but you don’t know what you’re doing. I think it’s great that you want to save a little money, but get a degree in horticulture first, then come talk to me. Until then, I’d suggest you just buy one because you’re going to kill this poor plant. I’ve got to go. Some of us have real jobs to do. Bye.

Once again, I realize that I’ve insulted the person I’m talking to, so I apologize and say goodbye.

I’m starting to get a little frustrated with the sudden feeling that everyone is against me and trying to make my life harder. However, none of them really said I couldn’t do this myself. The lady at the arboretum said that renovations were best left to professionals, but she never said I had to hire someone.

I decide that instead of following their advice, I’m going to do the opposite. I’d rather kill my own tree and learn from my mistakes than follow advice from people who assume I can’t handle it.

The next day, I take my little shovel and get to work. As others have mentioned, it’s really just digging out the center of the plant so there is a hole big enough to step into. The part I didn’t anticipate is how deep it is. I must have dug down at least a foot before hitting bottom.

Once I’m done digging the hole, I have an idea. I call up my friend Travis who just happens to have a pick up truck and ask him if he can help me with a project. He’s free so he comes over right away.

While we are waiting for him to get here, Mr. Worthington comes outside and sees what we’re doing. He doesn’t say anything, but I can tell he’s not very happy about it.

Travis arrives with a pick up truck full of rocks. On the way over, I explained to him about my idea to line the hole with rocks so that they absorb the water and funnel it down to the roots. He thought it was a great idea.

We start throwing rocks in the hole. It’s really hard work, but I feel really good about it as it starts to take shape. The hole is maybe 3 or 4 feet deep and the rocks reach from the top of the hole to within an inch or two of the bottom.

We finish just as Mr. Worthington comes outside again. He watches us throw a couple more rocks in while discussing how to best arrange them so that they can drain properly. He doesn’t say anything mean this time.

So, we’ve dug a hole and lined it with rocks.

Now what?

Well, Travis went to all this trouble to help me, so I figure the least I can do is buy him some dinner. While were at the restaurant, I bring up the topic of what to plant in the tree. I won’t say what he suggests, but let’s just say that it would be a really bad idea.

Instead, I suggest that we plant flowers. Nothing big like a tree, but something that will give the city a bit of color and something for people to look at and be happy about. Travis agrees.

We go to the nursery since it’s close by and I need to pick up some things there anyway. I ask the lady if she has any ideas for a tree that wouldn’t take up to much room, but would bloom in the spring or something similar.

Cutting Back Abelia Plants: How And When To Prune Abelia |

I didn’t expect her to come back with a cactus.

I was expecting something more like a shrub that would bloom every once in awhile. Travis and I are both taken aback by the odd choice of gardening, but after a few questions, she explains why it’s a good idea. The thorns act as protection for the plant so that it can grow without being smothered by other plants or having animals eat from it.

I can respect the idea of survival. I’m certainly trying to survive high school at this point. So, we get our one and only cactus. We need to pick out a pot, some soil, and something to cut through the soil to make room for the cactus’ roots.

After the lady wraps up our order, we head back to the park. On our way, Travis and I come up with a name for our project. The ‘Survive High School’ garden, or just ‘Survival Garden for short. It has a nice ring to it.

We spend the rest of the day putting all the materials in the hole, adding the rocks layer by layer, and then planting the cactus. We don’t finish until late in the day, but it was completely worth it.

Our first citizen is born! Or cultivated…cultivated…which one is it?

Mr. Worthington is still outside doing his yard work while we’re putting the finishing touches on our project. At first he’s confused by the changes, but as Travis and I explain it to him, he smiles for the first time and gives us both a thumbs up. We feel really good about what we’ve accomplished.

Our first day of November begins with a trip to the grocery store. I’ve never been in there by myself, but I manage to get everything on the list. Mr. Worthington pays me again, and Travis and I head home.

The week goes by really fast. Between class and work, I don’t have a whole lot of spare time, but it’s going by really fast. I’m having fun with Travis and making good money.

One night I’m in the middle of doing my homework when my mom comes and sits next to me. She has a serious look on her face.

“Bobby, honey. I know you’ve been staying with Mr.

Worthington for the past few days, is everything okay?”

I haven’t been home since Tuesday, so I wasn’t sure if she knew what was going on or not.

“Yeah, I’m fine mom. Mr. Worthington just needed help with some stuff around the house and yard.”

She looks relieved, but continues with a serious look.

Cutting Back Abelia Plants: How And When To Prune Abelia |

“Bobby, I want to tell you that you doing things like this shows that you are a wonderful and caring person. You’ve obviously made a really good connection with your neighbor, and that’s a good thing. But…”

Here it comes…

“I’m not sure how safe it is. I mean, you’re so young and all. I want you to keep helping him, but please be careful.


She gives me a hug which I return.

“Okay, mom. I will.”

I don’t bother telling her that Mr. Worthington has a gun and let’s me use it sometimes. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t like that. I’ll be careful, though.

The next morning, Travis and I are up early. We get ready for school and meet Mr. Worthington at his car. He’s loaded it up with the beer cans again. He hands us the key, and we’re off.

At school, we go right to the backpacks and get to work. It goes really quickly now. We’re already getting good at it. After we finish filling up the cans, we take them to the recycle bin and get straight back to the garden. Today we’re going to plant some flowers.

As we’re finishing up, I hear a familiar voice call out.


What are you doing?”

It’s Lisa. I completely forgot that she’s in most of my classes this year. I can’t let her find out about all this.

What would she think?

I walk over to the fence and motion for her to come over.

“Hey Lisa, I can’t talk long. I’m helping Mr. Worthington with some yard work today.”

She looks at me suspiciously.

Why are you helping him all of a sudden?

You used to talk about him all the time, but you never seem to go near his house.”

Shit. Should’ve thought of that…

“Heh, well I was over there a few times and he paid me, but then I lost the money because my mom took it. When I went back he didn’t have anything I could work off, so he offered to pay me daily so I could buy things for school. He’s really nice.”

She seems to be buying it.


Because Mr. Worthington doesn’t seem like the type to do that. He always looks grumpy.

Did he even ask your parents if it was ok if you could work for him?”

Well, she’s got me there…

“Heh, um…no. But I’m only gonna be helping him until I get enough money to buy the things I need for school.”

Lisa doesn’t look convinced, but she drops it.

“Alright, well don’t over do it. See ya later. Sheesh, your mom must really suck as a parent if she’d rather you work for an angry old man over her.

I watch her walk away.

I’m doing the right thing, right?

I finish up the garden and take one of the cans inside for Mr. Worthington. I find him in his office and hand him the can. He looks at it, and then at me.

“You’ve been here nearly four hours now. This is enough to cover it.”

He hands me a twenty dollar bill. I can’t believe it. That’s more money than I’ve made in a really long time. I think I’ve found a new way to help mom.

Cutting Back Abelia Plants: How And When To Prune Abelia - Picture

We make our goodbyes and I head home. Travis is in the front yard playing with his trucks like normal. I call over to him and he comes to the fence.

You wanna help me with something, and there’s money in it for you?”

he looks at me expectantly, so I explain my new plan.

“I need you to go to the grocery store, but don’t tell mom. Get six cans of green beans. They should be in the jelly aisle.

Just six, got it?”

He nods and I hand him the money. He takes off and I’m finally able to relax.

I have no idea how mom is going to react to all this, but I know she’ll at least be happy that I’m trying. Now, all I can do is hope Travis follows the instructions I gave him exactly.

About an hour later, mom gets home. She looks like she’s been crying the entire way.

Where’s Travis?”

are her first words.

Oh great, here we go…

“He stayed after school for a program and then went to Jim’s house to play.”

She looks at me skeptically.

Are you sure that’s the whole story?”

I can’t lie to her anymore. I’m going to take that leap of faith and trust that she’ll help me after I explain everything.

“No, I sent him to the store to buy some things because I needed the money. I’ve been working for Mr. Worthington after school and on weekends and he pays a lot, but I needed more.”

She sits down and puts her head in her hands. She stays like that for a while, then glances up at me.

Cutting Back Abelia Plants: How And When To Prune Abelia at

“I can’t do this anymore…”

I jump a bit because I wasn’t expecting that to come out of her mouth.

What do you mean?”

I’m genuinely scared of her answer as she stands up and starts pacing.

“I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I had the talent and drive, but never got the chance to pursue it. When I had you, it was all taken away from me. It was taken away from me again when you needed proper care and medicines that I couldn’t provide for you.”

Now I’m feeling bad for her. This is the most she’s talked about herself to me. I can’t remember the last time she hugged me.

Why are you telling me this now?”

“Because it’s no fair. When I had you, I had to make the decision of whether your life would be filled with luxury and comfort, but no freedom of expression or a simple life with lots of freedom to do what you want.”

She pauses in her story and finally looks directly at me.

“I regret the decision I made for you everyday.”

I don’t know what to say. I’ve never heard her say anything like this before, but the feeling behind her words is genuine. I believe her.

“But it’s too late now. You can’t go back and redo everything. You have to live with the consequences of your own decisions.”

She sits back down on the sofa and covers her face with her hands again. I know she’s crying, but she tries to stifle the noise. She doesn’t want me to know how much this is hurting her.

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I sit next to her and lean my head on her shoulder.

“It’s going to be OK.” are the only words I can think of.

I’ve never seen her like this before, but I know I’ve caused it. She’s sacrificed so much for me and I can’t even help her when she needs it most. I feel like a failure.

She takes a deep breath and turns to me with a forced smile.

“Let’s not do this now. I want to hear all about your new job.”

She sits up straight and looks at me expectantly. It’s obvious she doesn’t want to discuss it anymore, but I will eventually find a way to repay her.

I start from the beginning and tell her everything that’s happened so far. She listens intently as she plays with my hair.

Once I’m finished, she has a few questions.

So he’s only hired you because he feels sorry for you?”

I nod my head while saying “yes”.

“I see.”

She gets up from the sofa and starts putting away the dishes from breakfast.

“Well, at least you get to do what you want everyday.”

This catches me off guard.

What are you going to do now?”

She looks out the window and sighs.

“I have to go apologize to Mr. Frank for leaving early.”

She heads to the door, but turns around before she opens it.

“Don’t you dare leave this apartment today.

You hear me?”

“Yes, mom.”

She smiles a bit at that and leaves. For the rest of the day, I think about what needs to be done.

I need to make some money so I can get my own place and help mom out.

I don’t know how long she’s planning on staying here, but I can’t imagine it will be too long. This situation is just way too awkward for us.

I have a week to come up with a plan.

Chapter 3

It’s been a few days and I’m no closer to finding a new job.

Cutting Back Abelia Plants: How And When To Prune Abelia |

I’ve pretty much tried every place in a five block radius with no luck. It’s looking really bad and I have to come up with something quick.

There’s some small shops on the edge of the district that are open, but they mostly just sell basic supplies, so nothing that would really interest a thief.

There are two places left that I can think of going to. One being an old shop front a couple blocks from here and the other being the palace.

The shop isn’t really a shop, so much as it’s just an open front room stacked with boxes with various items. It’s run by an older man who seems to be there all the time. I remember seeing people go in and out of the place when I was younger and trying to listen in on their conversations when they came out. Most of them complained about how the prices were too high or the merchandise was faulty in some way. I don’t know how he’s kept the place open with such terrible feedback, but maybe his high prices keep the troublesome folks like me out of his hair.

The palace seems like a riskier prospect, but the rewards could be much higher. There’s always security around valuable items and nobles tend to have rich tastes.

Either way, I need to get out of this apartment…

I pack up my tools and make my way to the shop.

When I arrive, I see that it’s smaller than it looked from the outside. The only thing in the store is a single candle on a small table in the center of the room. It’s very dim, but there are some small windows near the ceiling that let in enough light to see by.

The shopkeeper is an older man, seemingly in his late sixties or early seventies. His graying hair is tied into a short ponytail and he has a gray beard reaching to his mid-chest. He’s a little shorter than me and his body type betrays his age, as even lifting the boxes of merchandise must be a chore for him.

His face brightens when he sees me.


What brings you here?”

“Just looking around.”

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He stares at me with a confused look.

“But, there’s nothing here to look at.”

I point to the candle on the table.

“There’s that.”

He breaks into a big grin.

“Ah, yes. There is that.”

We both stare at the candle for a few moments.

“So…how much is that one?” I ask.

Which one? The white one, the black one, or the translucent one?”

“The white one.”

“That’ll be three gold.”


He gives me a stern look.

“I don’t mean to offend, but that candle isn’t even that good. It smells bad and it’s way too thin.”

“It’s special.”


He gives me another stern look.

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“It just is.”

I hand him three gold and he hands it over. I pocket it and pick up the candle, wondering what makes it so special as he speaks again.

You see that shelf over there?”

I look over to where he’s pointing and see a series of wooden shelves stacked with various items.

“Yes,” I answer.

“Go over there and bring me back whatever you pick out.”

What is all this stuff?”

“It’s what’s left of my business. Now, bring me something.”

I look over at the shelves and wonder what to get him. I spot a box of matches and some candles that look like they might be made out of animal fat. There are also several rolls of parchment and bottles of ink.

“Hurry up!” he says, breaking me from my thoughts.

I pick up a roll of parchment, a box of matches, and three candles. I walk over to him with my selection and place it on the table.

Anything else?”

he asks.


He hands me the key to my new business and stares at me with those beady eyes as I leave.

“Come again,” he says, though I’m sure he doesn’t mean it.

I walk out of the shop and begin my walk back home. I have a lot to do in preparation for tonight’s meeting. I need to stock the shop, and do some light cleaning.

As I walk through the city gates, I look up at the tall buildings and wonder if I should risk going to the palace. I’ve never been much of a cat burglar, but it’s possible. Maybe I could find something valuable. It’s not like I’m going to get anyone else in trouble as the guards don’t have any idea it was me. I might be able to use one of those candles to mask my scent and slip in after everyone else has gone to bed.

I’ll worry about that later, though. For now I have to stock my shop…

You gain access to your shop!

You also obtain the “shop” quality.

Current Quality: Shop

You head to your shop and begin placing the candles on shelves and arranging the parchment. You stock the ink and match boxes on the counter for now, although you’ll need to find a better solution for those. You place the key under one of the candles, where you’re less likely to forget about it later.

You finish your work and are satisfied with what you’ve accomplished. Your shop is ready for operation. All that’s left is to wait for nightfall and pray your plan goes through.

You have a few hours to kill before then, though.

Cutting Back Abelia Plants: How And When To Prune Abelia |

Current Quality: Shop

As night falls, you begin to feel a nervous energy. You haven’t got much time left and everything is relying on this plan succeeding. Your whole life is on the line and you can’t afford to mess up. You pace around the room for a bit and try to relax yourself but that only makes you more anxious. You go out onto your balcony and look off into the distance.

The sun has almost completely set and it won’t be long before you begin. You take one last look around to make sure everything is in order and then enter your room again to get into costume.

You put on your black cloak and pick up your pack, making sure the items inside are in the right place. Once you’re positive that you have everything, you open up your window and climb onto your roof. You walk slowly along it to the left, towards the back of the inn. At the corner you find a pipe fith enought for you to grab onto. You slip off your shoes and hook your legs around it, then begin to shimmy over to the next building.

You can’t see any guards up here, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It’s possible that they’re just especially good at hiding.

You slowly pull yourself across the gap, moving from one sturdy pipe to another. You don’t get too high off of the ground, but you’re high enough that if you lost your grip and fell, you’d at least break a few bones. As you move along the side of the building you pass a window that’s open just a little and peering out of it is the head of a guardsman. He doesn’t notice you as you quickly pull yourself behind the cover of another pipe.

Sources & references used in this article:

Mid-season Pruning Affects Cold Tolerance of Abelia Cultivars in Central Georgia by M Chappell, C Robacker – HortScience, 2006 –

Pruning leads to increased incidence of freezing damage in Abelia hybrids by M Chappell, C Robacker… – Journal of …, 2006 –

Basic principles of pruning woody plants by GL Wade, RR Westerfield – 2009 –



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