Abutilon, commonly known as flowering maple, is a group of tropical and subtropical plants admired for their vibrant, bell-shaped flowers and attractive foliage. Their diverse forms, from low-growing shrubs to tree-like species, offer myriad garden possibilities.
- Habit: Abutilons vary greatly in size and habit. Some cultivars form compact, rounded shrubs perfect for borders or containers, while others can become quite large and tree-like. The leaves, which resemble those of maples, are often heart-shaped or palmate and can be variegated in some species.
- Hardiness: Depending on the specific species, abutilons typically grow best in USDA zones 8-10. In cooler climates, they can be grown as annuals or overwintered indoors. Abutilons prefer a sunny to partially shaded location with well-drained soil. They are tolerant of various soil types, from loamy to sandy.
- Flowers: Abutilon’s most striking feature is its flowers. They produce an abundance of pendulous, bell-shaped blossoms from spring until fall. The flowers come in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and white, sometimes with veining or a contrasting center.
- Uses: Abutilons are versatile plants. Their vibrant colors and long blooming season make them excellent specimens for containers or mixed borders. They can also be used as houseplants, providing a sunny indoor spot. Some taller varieties can serve as informal hedges or privacy screens.
- Benefits: Abutilons are not just eye-catching but also beneficial to pollinators. Their blossoms attract hummingbirds, bees, and beneficial insects, contributing to a healthier garden ecosystem. They are also relatively low maintenance, requiring only moderate watering and occasional pruning to maintain their shape.