Friday, September 16, 2011

Flowering Maple

Abutilon hybrid
Flowering maple, or Abutilon is a beautiful container plant. It is a profuse flowering plant, as long as it has plenty of sun. The papery bells hang down and look beautiful with the light shining through them. They can grow to be quite sizeable plants if allowed to, but can be controlled with pruning, which has the added bonus of making the plant flower more. They look great in a mixed container planting in the summer, or as a single specimen. They make great houseplants, as long as you can give them enough light.

When bringing it in for the winter, if it has been outside for the summer, make sure to check  for unwanted guests. This plant is a whitefly magnet. It also can be a host for scale, spider mites, and mealybugs. Treating it with a systemic insecticide is a must. Keep checking it for a month or more after bringing it in to make sure all generations are killed.
Of course, the name would imply it is a maple, but it isn't related to the genus Acer. They do have maple-like leaves, though, thus the common name. Abutilons are in the mallow or Malvaceae family. They like to be kept evenly moist, but in my experience, can be revived, even after wilting from thirst. This isn't the best way to keep track of when to water.
The flowers of the abutilon are so papery and beautiful. They seem like they would be fragile, but really aren't. The veining on them makes them unique and stunning. They come in many colors, including the orange seen here, (my favorite) and also in yellow, pink, and white. 'Thompsonii' has variegated foliage, while megapotamicum, or trailing abutilon, has bi-colored flowers on long hanging branches.
No matter which color or variety chosen, you won't be disappointed. Flowering maple or Abutilons are wonderful plants.

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