The abutilon plant, also called the flowering maple, Chinese lantern or Chinese bellflower, is an evergreen shrub. It can grow from a couple of feet to more than 10 feet high. Abutilon leaves resemble those of maple trees and come in a variety of colours, from pale pink to bright red, yellow and orange.
You can grow new abutilon shrubs from seeds or propagate them from stem cuttings planted in a mixture of perlite and moist peat in the spring. Cover the pot with a plastic bag and secure it with a rubber band to help hold moisture in. Place the pot in indirect sun or under a fluorescent light until the plant is well established, then transplant into a regular potting mix.
Water and Fertilizer
Use warm water and keep the soil evenly moist. Soil must be well-drained; use a container with a hole in the bottom and set it in a tray to catch excess water. Use a liquid-soluble fertiliser on your abutilon every two weeks during the growing season in spring and summer, and don't feed it during the fall or winter. Alternatively, use a granular slow-release fertiliser once a year in early spring.
Pruning and Transplanting
Cut your abutilon shrub back if it starts getting leggy, and prune back by 30 per cent in late winter to stimulate flowering and new growth. You can also train your abutilon as a bonsai to shape it and create a beautiful display. Transplant into a bigger container when the roots start growing out of the bottom of the current one.
Abutilon plants grow best in warmer climates and will need to be brought indoors in the winter in colder areas. An indoor abutilon will require bright indirect sun from a south- or west-facing window. Keep an eye out for spider mites, mealy bugs and scale, and inspect all new plants for these and other pests and diseases before bringing them into the house.