Abelias & Spireas, Cont...
REHABILITATION WORK, TO MAKE IT LOOK BETTER FOR NOW. For people
whose abelias or other mal-pruned plants have a bad case of 'the fright',
I have developed the following technique. Like much of pruning,
it goes counter to people's natural inclinations, which are, in this case,
to cut off all the stuff that sticks up too far. The goal is to make
the plant more uniform in appearance by modifying the top which is all
straight branches, and the bottom which has all pretty curving branches.
Step 1: Thin up a portion of the skirt that touches the ground.
Step 2: Take out some of the nicest curving branches from the lower portion
(I know this is hard to do since these are often the prettiest).
Step 3: Then modify the top portion of mostly straight branches. Remove
a few of the longest, most upsetting branches, but leave the vast majority
in place. You may head back some branches to a promising bud, cut
some off inside the shrub where they join a stem, and remove some stems
at ground level. In this fashion, the shrub becomes more uniform
in appearance (uniformly uglier), but it seems to calm the homeowner long
enough for all the shoots or branches to age, arch out and assume
the characteristic pleasing habit of the plant. One cannot force
branches to become more arching and beautiful. Only the aging
process does that.