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Abutilon

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  • Indoor Plants
Abutilon hybridum 'Savitzii'
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

Abutilon is a small shrub in the hibiscus family, native to the South American tropics and subtropics. It grows to several metres in its native habitat, but rarely exceeds 1.5 metres when grown as a houseplant. Abutilon bears bell-shaped flowers and has downy, maple-like leaves. The purple-veined orange flowers form in summer. Some variegated-leaf cultivars produce very few blooms.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Abutilon pictum 'Thompsonii' has yellow-spotted foliage and purple-veined salmon and orange flowers. Abutilon x hybridum is a cross between various species. Hybrids have solitary white, yellow, red or orange flowers. Abutilon megapotamicum has narrow trailing stems. It has long bright red calyces around the base of the yellow flowers. Abutilon vitifolium has lavender blue saucer-shaped flowers and slightly downy leaves.

Common name

Abutilon / Flowering maple / Parlor maple

Latin name (genus)

Abutilon pictum

French common name

Botanical family

  • Malvaceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

Abutilon requires bright light, and even a few hours of filtered direct sunlight every day. Place it in a sunny room, preferably near a south- or west-facing window. Normal room temperatures (20°C in daytime, and slightly cooler at night) are suitable. While it benefits from a period in winter with cooler temperatures (12 to 15°C), this is not essential. Never expose it to temperatures below 10°C. In summer, it can be grown outdoors as a patio plant. Although abutilon tolerates dry air, it does best with fairly high relative humidity. This plant is sensitive to sudden temperature changes and cold drafts.

Easy to grow?

Abutilon is quite easy to grow, although it tends to get leggy. It will bloom regularly from year to year, especially if kept properly pruned.

Watering and fertilizer

Abutilon must never lack water. During the growing period, water it regularly, but do not allow water to stand in the saucer. In winter, water it only enough to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Abutilon quickly absorbs soil nutrients, so it is best to fertilize it once a month during the growing period. For best results, use indoor plant food or an all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20, alternating with flowering plant food (high in phosphorous) like 15-30-15. Stop fertilizing in winter.

Pruning and maintenance

Prune leggy plants in early spring.

Remove any weak shoots and cut all stems back by one-third.

You can also pinch back young shoots in summer to encourage the formation of new flowering stems. Deadhead regularly.

Repotting

Repot in spring each year. Potting soil for houseplants or a blend of sphagnum moss, potting soil and compost is suitable.

Propagation

Woody cuttings (hormones)

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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