Friday, January 20, 2012

Abutilon (Flowering Maple)

This plant has several common names, among them flowering maple and parlor maple. I usually call it Abutilon, because I like the sound of the word.
I do not know the actual cultivar of this flowering maple, but perhaps it is A. pictum'Thompsonii '. It seems to be the most numerous one pictured on the web. I have had this one (or cuttings of it) for several years. It is a tough thing and survives to bloom in spite of uneven and careless horticultural practices. This is it's current state of bloom, in a greenhouse where I try not to let the temperature fall below 40F. (It has gone into the 30's on at least one occasion this winter). This garden year, I plan to put a cutting of it into the ground and see how big it will get. This one is about 2 feet tall, not including the pot.

 This is an Abutilon that I grew from seed this past year. I had a nice color selection as you can see from the picture below with the floating blooms. On the stem of the above plant you can see what is the main trouble to me of growing Abutilon: mealy aphids. They are almost impossible to get rid of on potted plants, and will spread to nearby plants. This lead me to plant 3 of my seedling plants in the outdoor bed last summer, where they thrived. In fact, they held their leaves till the last time it went down to 23F. I am still hopeful that they will put out new leaves this spring. I read on the net that they are hardy to 26F, and this coincides with my experience. So keep your fingers crossed for me that they will regrow in the spring.
 Meally bugs do not seem to be as bad outside, although they do occur. Perhaps there are critters out there that prey on them or maybe rain and overhead watering washes them away, but whatever the reason, putting a plant outdoors that has mealy bugs will usually help it if not cure the problem.

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