Abutilon





The plant Abutilon, member of the Malvaceae family. Also, known as Indian mallow or velvetleaf, it is distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia. People around the world make different associations with the flower, though it has no relation to the maple tree, it is called the flowering maple too. It is because of the maple-like palmate leaves. You can spot a similarity to mallows and hibiscus. The genus name is an 18th-century New Latin word. Plants of this genus include herbs, shrubs, and trees. They range in height from about 0.5 to 3 meters. The herbage is generally hairy to woolly or bristly. The leaf blades are usually entire, but the occasional species has lobed leaves. They are palmately veined and have wavy or serrated edges. Flowers are solitary, paired, or borne in small inflorescences in the leaf axils or toward the branch tips. The calyx is bell-shaped with five lobes. The corolla is usually bell-shaped to wheel-shaped, with five petals joined at the bases. This beautiful plant share the ability to produce dozens of flowers. If you're careful and pay attention your Abutilon can flower almost the whole year. But it's blooming season is from April to June. The flowers of wild species are most often yellow or orange,but can be red or pink, sometimes with a darker center. 
The stamens are fused into a tube lined at the mouth with anthers. Inside the tube is the branching style with head-like stigmas. The fruit is a rounded or hemispherical schizocarp with up to 20 segments, each containing a few seeds. Some hybrids have smaller flowers with more of a trumpet shade. They seem to bloom the longest of the varieries. Abutilon hybridum is also commonly known as a Chinese Bellflower or a Chinese Lantern. It is mostly grown as a houseplant and taken outdoors in the warm season. It is a sun lover, but also can develop good in partial shade. If the sun rays are enough it will continually bloom in an impressive way. The fact that Abutilon is a houseplant and it is grown in a container means that it is a specimen plant. It suits very good with clematis or salvia, because of its rich colors.
The soil of the plant should be always wet and it needs a drainage. Re-pot every year. 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" tip of a branch while the branch is still green and somewhat tender. Leave 3 leaves, but cut off excess leaves and any flowers or buds. The usual houseplant pests will affect Abutilon, including: whiteflies, spider mites, scale and mealybugs. Scout for problems while watering. The diseases affecting Abutilon include: root rot, rust, Alternaria and Cercospora leaf spot. If you grow your Abutilon at home , you need a condidarable amount of room in which to grow. If left unrestrained, they may grow to ten feet in height and spread, so it is important to not provide too large of a planter, nor to feed this plant too well. 
When your plant has reached a suitable size you can control the growth somewhat by pinching, pruning and keeping it slightly root bound. Flowering maples should be pruned to the desired shape in early spring or late fall. They can be trained into a hanging plant growth pattern by pinching back each stem tip every time is grows out two or three inches. To create a more vertical tree like structure, allow only one main stem to remain, and remove all side shoots from it until it reaches the desired height. Then pinch the main tip to force lateral bushiness at the top of the plant. 


Available at Flora Holland: From March to September.

 sources: Wikipedia, The garden helper and Gardening About;

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