Planting Abelia Bushes – Tips For Growing And Caring For Abelia Plants
Abelmoschus obliquus (Ablia) is a genus of evergreen trees native to Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. The species are found from southern France in the Ile de la Cité region all the way up into Spain and Portugal.
They grow to heights of 25 m or more, making them one of the tallest plants in their family. They have long, slender branches which reach down to the ground. Their leaves are opposite, oval shaped and very large. These plants produce clusters of small white flowers in spring followed by a short flowering period in summer. The fruit is a seed pod containing several seeds that germinate after being exposed to sunlight for 2 weeks. After they sprout, they take 3 years before they begin producing fruits again.
The name ‘abelia’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘little tree’. The Latin name is Obliquus which means ‘of the soil’, referring to its origin in the soil.
It was first described by Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia in 1543. Abelmoschus obliquus is a member of the Rosaceae family, a group of evergreen trees related to ash, birch and poplar.
Abelmoschus plants are native to southern Europe, North Africa and western Asia. They grow wild in the Ile de la Cite region of southern France, parts of Spain and Portugal, Morocco, Cyprus and Syria.
They can also be found in some parts of North America and the Caribbean where they are grown as ornamental plants. In these places they grow wild near rivers and streams, rocky hillsides and mountain slopes. They are sometimes found growing wild in the mountains of Madeira and the Azores, a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They can also be found in the Canary Islands.
Abelmoschus plants prefer dry, sunny locations with well-drained, sandy or gravelly soil. They grow best in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11.
In cooler zones, they can be grown in containers and moved indoors during the winter. They can grow well in full sun but prefer afternoon shade in hotter climates. They are quite tolerant of drought and only need watering every 2 or 3 weeks. They do best when fed with a general purpose fertilizer once a month during the growing season and fortnightly all year round.
The abelmoschus plants produce large, flat seed pods that contain several seeds. The pods are green when young and turn brown when they are ripe.
They tend to split open when ripe, and the top half turns upwards. They can be harvested and dried on the plant. The seeds inside need to be scarified by soaking them in water for 24 hours and then stratifying them (keeping them cool and moist for several months) before they will germinate.
The plants can be propagated from seed or by division. They should be planted in holes 30 cm deep and 45 cm apart.
The seedlings should be well watered until they are established.
During the Middle Ages, abelmoschus plants were grown in monastery gardens from France to Italy. They were used as a food source and for making wine and oil.
The leaves can be eaten either cooked or raw in the same way as you would use lettuce. The fruits are eaten raw, and the oil can be used for cooking.
In the 16th century, French and Italian gardeners developed a range of new varieties with more showy flowers and different colored fruit. These were grown in the Medici’s gardens in Florence and later in the gardens of Versailles in France.
They became very popular in North America during the 19th century, but were then replaced by other flowers and shrubs. They again became popular after World War II, and new varieties were bred.
These plants can be grown as an ornamental plant in frost-free areas. The flowers are fragrant at night, and the leaves have a fruity smell.
They attract bees and butterflies to the garden when in flower.
The oil from the seeds of the plants can be used in cooking and has a peppery taste. It is used to add flavor to cheese, salads, eggs, meats and fish.
The leaves can be eaten in the same way as lettuce. The fruits can be eaten when ripe and have a sweet, melon-like flavor. They can be pickled or made into jam. They are high in vitamin C.
They can also be used in herbal medicine as they have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to treat disorders of the skin and digestive tract.
Cultivation of “A. moschus” is also spreading in India and China.
The crop is not very popular in the West, but is gaining popularity in other parts of the world for its oil production, and its young fruits which can be eaten.
The plant is also known as musk melon, Java apple, wild cantaloupe, and fragrant cucumber.
The plant is grown for its fruit and its oil. The young fruits are edible, however the older fruits have a musky smell which gives the plant its name.
They have been eaten for centuries in Asia where they are thought to be an aphrodisiac. They can be eaten both raw and cooked and have a sweet melon flavor. In the West, the fruits are eaten in the same way as watermelons and cantaloupes.
The seeds have a high fat content and edible oil can be pressed from them. The seed oil is used in cooking just like other vegetable oils.
The leaves and stems of the plant can also be eaten. They are cooked and eaten as a green vegetable especially in Asian countries.
The essential oil can also be used for cooking, in soaps, and for perfumes. It is also used in herbal medicine.
The leaves are used in the treatment of coughs, colds, and stomach aches. In Java, they are used for skin complaints.
The flowers from this plant have a weak bees attracting smell.
The plant grows up to 3-4 meters in height. It has large heart-shaped leaves with deep green veins.
It also has a light green stem. The plant produces lovely flowers which are pink, purple or white. The fruit is oval shaped and may be green or yellow when ripe. When the fruit is ripe it has a sweet, melon flavor and is eaten in the same way as cantaloupes and watermelons.
It can be grown in large gardens or in a greenhouse in frost prone areas. This plant does best in wet soil with lots of organic material in it.
It can be propagated from seeds, seedlings, or by dividing the rhizomes.
The seeds must undergo a process called stratification before they will grow. This involves first drying the seed for three days, then storing it in moist sand at 5C for 90 days, and then a further three days at 15-30C.
Then sow the seeds into trays of fine sand, cover with glass or plastic to keep the humidity high. It may take up to a year for them to germinate. It is best not to disturb the seedlings until they have their first pair of leaves.
Cucumbers, pumpkins (?), melons (?), and snake gourds (?
) are all related to “A. moschus” and can be planted near them to help provide support.
It can be grown around other plants to help protect them from insect attack.
The leaves and stems of the plant are rich in Vitamin C, and the seeds are rich in oil.
The plant can be grown all year round but will grow best if there is plenty of water and the soil is well drained.
The plant is not affected by many diseases, but watch out for powdery mildew which usually affects plants that are too crowded or are in damp conditions.
When growing “A. muscossum” for its oil production, allow 5-7 plants per person.
When growing for food, allow 10-20 plants per person.
The plant produces a very strong scent which some people find unpleasant.
The scent can be masked by planting it near mint or chives.
The fruit can be eaten by humans and animals.
The ripe fruit can be eaten fresh and has a sweet melon flavor, but it is not as tasty as other varieties of melons.
The fruit can be pickled, or made into preserves or wine.
The fruit is high in vitamin A and C, and also contains some vitamin B complex.
It contains minerals including copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
It is high in sugars, but the sugars are not easily metabolized by the body. This causes a sharp rise in insulin levels and may even lead to diabetes.
The plant is also used for herbal medicine in many countries. It is used as an aphrodisiac and a treatment for impotence in men, as well as being used to treat colds, coughs, stomachaches, urinary disorders and infections.
It can be applied externally to wounds and sores.
The leaves are used to make herbal tea with a strong cucumber flavor.
The seeds are used in the manufacture of perfumes.
The oil is used as an illuminant and in soaps, paints, and varnishes.
The root can be used as a substitute for galbanum, a resin used in perfumes.
The dried sap can be used to waterproof cloth.
The dried flowers can be used as incense and insect repellent.
The plant is also grown as an ornamental because it has large, stunning flowers.
“A. muscossum” contains a toxin called muscarine which attacks the nervous system and can lead to death through paralysis of the respiratory system.
The toxin is destroyed by cooking however.
It also contains a chemical called scopolamine which can cause delirium, delusions, and hallucinations.
The ripe fruit can cause nausea, drowsiness, and paralysis if eaten.
It is also toxic to animals and can kill goats, sheep, and cows that eat it.
The leaves contain a toxin that can cause skin irritation and rashes.
Although it contains several toxins, it also has several medical benefits. It has been used to treat stomach and urinary problems, colds, coughs, and other illnesses.
It is used in herbal medicine to treat sexual disorders in men, and to increase fertility.
It can also be applied externally to soothe rashes and sunburns.
“A. muscossum” is listed as an endangered species in Victoria, Australia and also listed as endangered in the states of New South Wales and Queensland.
The main cause of its endangerment is habitat loss. It grows best in dry, open, grassy areas and these areas are being destroyed as farming and development takes place.
It is also eaten by animals such as goats and cows, which destroys the plant faster than it can regenerate.
This can be combated by fencing the area off or keeping animals out.
Sources & references used in this article:
Abelia x grandiflora by EF Gilman – EDIS, 2004 – journals.flvc.org
Abelia× grandiflora plant named ‘Abelops’ by RA Van Opstal – US Patent App. 12/380,332, 2010 – Google Patents
Abelia plant named ‘Kaleidoscope’ by RD Lindsey – US Patent App. 11/053,533, 2006 – Google Patents
[FP001-minor] Abelia x grandiflora by EF Gilman, RW Klein, G Hansen – EDIS, 2017 – journals.flvc.org
Frances Mason Glossy Abelia by AR Lamborn, EH Agent – sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu
Abelia X Grandiflora’Edward Goucher’ by EF Gilman – 1999 – hort.ufl.edu