Abutilion (ah-beu’-ti-lon). A genus of tropical or semi-tropical plants, shrubby, or less often herbaceous, known as Flowering maple.
Many species produce numerous, long-lasting beautiful blossoms – red, yellow, white or striped. Some species are erect, tree-like and handsome. Others resemble miniature maple trees in form and leaf, which explains the popular name.
These are grown as house plants, being treated like geraniums or fuchsias; that is, placed outdoors in the summer and brought indoors when the weather becomes cold.
The long-stalked, vine-like leaves are usually edged or mottled with white. The pendent flowers, 1 to 3 in. long, vary in color from red to yellow and white, with many intermediate hues and tints.
The profusion of handsome flowers, produced nearly all year around, makes the abutilon plant a favorite shrub for indoor bloom.
Valuable plants for the greenhouse, window box or conservatory, they are equally suited for use in hanging baskets, vases or the summer bedding garden.
Indoors they require a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees F., full exposure to light and frequent watering. They are easily grown from seed, and if started outdoors as annuals may be lifted, cut back and potted in the fall. So treated they will bear flowers during the winter, growing to a height of 3 to 4 ft. and making charming ornaments for the living room.
They may also be propagated from green-wood cuttings taken in autumn. From these new plants other cuttings may be taken and rooted any time during the winter.
Thus one plant will produce a large supply for planting outdoors the following summer. Young plants are likely to become spindling unless the tip shoots are pinched back frequently to induce formation of side branches.
A virus disease called “infectious chlorosis” causes a variegation or mosaic of the foliage, but since the variegated forms are considered desirable from an ornamental standpoint the disease is intentionally fostered and transmitted by budding or grafting chlorotic stock on normal green plants. One type of chlorosis may be transmitted by seeds.
Leaves showing irregular brown spots (caused by the fungus) should be removed and destroyed ; so should entire plants if they show signs of Fusarium wilt or Corticium stem rot.
For infestations of tortoise scale, mealy bugs and white fly, spray with neem insecticide or insecticde soap solution. Malathion should also clear up scale, white fly and young (not adult) mealy bugs.
Questions and Answers
Question: I have several small flowering maples in my that are growing too large to keep inside. If I set these plants out of doors this summer and they continue to grow accordingly, what will I do with them next fall? Can they survive our southern Michigan winters? Michigan
Answer: The flowering maple, abutilon, cannot survive the winter in your state. Set the plants outdoors and let them grow. Next fall take cuttings and start new plants, discarding the old ones. They are easily started from cuttings of the softer wood and if the cuttings are taken in August the new plants will be large enough to be attractive as indoor plants during winter.
Question: My neighbor and I have tried to start cuttings from a flowering maple but we never have any success. We tried putting the cuttings in water and in soil, but they would not root. Why?
Answer: The flowering maple (Abutilon) is an old-time plant, once very popular, and still lovely. Cuttings may be taken at any season of the year. They root easily in sandy soil and need little bottom heat while they are rooting. Keep the cuttings out of drafts and keep the humidity as high as you can. One should grow a flowering maple in about six months from a rooted cutting.
Principal Abutilon Species
Abutilon hybridium – Leaves slightly 3-lobed or unlobed and spotted; flowers of various colors. Actually a group of deVeloped types to which most garden forms belong.
Abutilon indicum – A shrubby perennial growing to 5 ft.; leaves entire or toothed, 4 in. across ; flowers yellow, 1 in.
Abutilon insigne – Leaves 4 in. long, wavy-toothed, not lobed; flowers white or rose with dark veins, 2-1/2 in.
Abutilon megapotamicum – Of drooping form with 3-in. unlobed leaves often arrow-shaped ; flowers 2 in. with yellow petals and red calyx ; stamens exserted as in fuchsias.
Abutilon mollissimum – Grows to 10 ft. ; leaves ovate, pubescent; 6 in. long, flowers yellow, 1/2 in.
Abutilon pictium – Three-lobed, toothed, leaves green or variegated ; flowers orange or yellow with crimson veins, 1-1/4 in.
Abutilon pleniflorum – Resembles pictum except that leaves are green and flowers double.
Abutilon theophrasti – An annual herb to 5 ft.; leaves pubescent, nearly entire or toothed, to 1 ft. across ; flowers yellow, 3/4 in.
Abutilon vitifolium – Leaves 3 to 7 lobed, to 5 in. across, the underside woolly ; flowers light blue, 3-1/2 in.