Overview and Description:
Abutilon are free flowering plants with leaves like maple trees and pastel flowers that have the look of crepe paper. Although Abutilon is no relation to the maple tree, it is frequently referred to as the "flowering maple". Abutilon does have maple-like palmate leaves. You may also notice a similarity to mallows and hibiscus. These are cousins of Abutilon, and in addition to similar flower shapes, they share the ability to produce dozens of flowers.
In fact, a happy Abutilon can flower almost non-stop, in shades from white to pale yellow to deep coral and red.
- Growth Habit: Abutilon are small, upright shrubs with arching branches that bend under the weight of all the flowers.
- Foliage: The leaves are palmate and can be deeply lobed and/or serrated.
- Flowers: Most have flowers that start off cup shaped and eventually unfurl to almost flat, with a downward drooping habit. Some hybrids have smaller flowers with more of a trumpet shape. These seem to bloom the longest of the varieties.
Abutilon x hybridum
Flowering Maple, Parlor Maple, Indian Mallow
The mature size depends on the variety being grown. In the ground, Abutilons can reach 8 ft. tall and wide.
They tend to be much smaller, when grown as potted plants.
All Abuliton plants repeat bloom. They can bloom continually , if given warm temperatures and lots of sun.
Because of Abutilon’s arching habit, it’s a nice choice for an entryway arbor. I’ve even seen them trained as espaliers. If you’re growing yours in a pot, you might consider training it as a standard. Many varieties also do well as hanging plants.
- Abutilon ‘Kentish Belle’ - A two-toned, bell-shaped flower of apricot-yellow with purple stamens. (Zones 8-10, 8' x 8')
- Abutilon ‘Canary Bird’ - Rounded growth habit and extremely long flowers, with yellow trumpet-shaped flowers. (Zones 9-10, 10' x 10')
- A. pictum ‘Thompsonii’ - Attractive mottled yellow leaves offset by salmon colored flowers. (Zones 9-10, 15' x 6')
Abutilon Growing Tips:
Abutilon aren’t too particular about soil, but they will react to water extremes or water. They do not do well with prolonged dry periods, but they also don’t want to sit in wet soil.
The soil pH should be in the neutral range, but more importantly, it needs to be well-draining. Re-pot container Abutilon’s every year or two and change the potting soil.
Feeding: Abutilon can be heavy feeders, probably because they do so much blooming. This is especially true when they are grown in containers. Feeding every other week with a dilute, water soluble fertilizer will keep them blooming.
Pruning: Abutilon takes pruning well. Tip prune young plants, to spur new growth and get a fuller shape. If yours starts to become tall and gangly, snipping it back to a leaf joint will encourage it to send out new branches. Abutilon can also be pruned back hard in the spring, if you want to control its size.
Propagating: Propagate by cuttings. Snip about a 4 inch tip of a branch while the branch is still green and somewhat tender. Leave 3 leaves, and cut off excess leaves and any flowers or buds.
Problems & Pests:
Diseases: Diseases affecting Abutilon include: root rot, rust, Alternaria and Cercospora leaf spot. These can be controlled by providing good air circulation, keeping the leaves dry, and using a fungicide, if necessary.
There is also Abutilon mosaic virus, but the leaf discoloration or variegation is usually considered a feature.