Q: I bought a ‘Little Richard’ abelia to avoid regular pruning because it only reaches two to three feet tall. I planted it two years ago. The shrub now has several four foot tall shoots in the middle. Why did this happen? If I cut them off at the base, will they come back yearly?
A: My colleague Dr. Michael Dirr notes that ‘Little Richard” is a selected sport of Abelia grandiflora ‘Sherwoodii’. It has dense, lustrous green leaves. He also mentions that ‘Sherwoodii’ occasionally sends up limbs that are reversions to the species abelia, which can grow to eight feet tall. With this in mind, my guess is that your ‘Little Richard’ has sported a couple of tall limbs like its ‘Sherwoodii’ parent does. If the rest of the plant is growing compactly just remove the sprouts at their origination point.