The abutilon is a very interesting plant for the garden: it is in fact quite simple to grow and it flowers for a long time helping us to give color to our borders and flowerbeds.
Abutilon is an evergreen shrub native to South America; in nature these shrubs reach 2-3 meters in height, with a roundish habit. It has very branched stems, which form a dense crown, consisting of large, light green leaves, very similar in shape to the leaves of the maple; from late spring to the first cold it produces numerous large bell-shaped flowers, slightly pendulous, of red, yellow or orange color; there are also hybrids with pink or blue-blue flowers; the goblets of the flowers, the branches and the leaves are covered with a thin silky hair. The flowers are followed by fruits, small dark berries, which remain on the plant for many weeks during the winter months. These plants are also grown in the apartment.
ABUTILON IN BRIEFFamily, genus, species Malvaceae, abutilon, about 150 speciesType of plant Flowering shrubdimensions Up to 3 m x 3 mMaintenance Moderately demandingWater needs Medium-highExposure EasyGround Rich, well-drained, with a land of leavesMinimum temperature -5 / -10 ° C depending on the varietiesuse Bordure, isolated specimen, large vasePropagation Cutting, sowingAvversitа Snails, aphids, aleurodids, cochineal, red spider miteAbutilon features
The genus Abutilon consists of about 150 species of annual, lively or perennial plants. They are part of the large family of the Malvaceae and are mostly native to South America, in particular the tropical or subtropical regions of Mexico, Brazil and Chile.
They have a very varied bearing and size (from a minimum of 150 cm up to more than 500). The foliage can be persistent or transitory, but this aspect is strongly influenced by the climate. The individual leaves are lobed and are velvety to the touch. Their color is very pleasant and goes well with the nuances of flowers: it can in fact go from a light green to a gray-glaucous. There are also cultivars characterized by golden or silver variegations, suitable to give a touch of brightness to the shaded areas.
The very long flowering season (in favorable climates can go from the beginning of May until November) is one of its greatest strengths. The flowers, single or gathered in clusters, have a bell or cup shape. They appear from the leaf axil and are supported by a graceful long peduncle. The range of colors is extremely wide: pink, orange, yellow, white, red. Blue and mallow are rarer, but still present. Another pleasant aspect is represented by the beautiful stamens in evidence, white or yellow.
Watering and Irrigation
From March to October regularly water the Abutilon plants, avoiding excessively soaking the soil, and waiting for it to dry slightly between one watering and another, but checking that it maintains a certain degree of humidity. In winter it is advisable to sporadically water the plants that are grown in the ground during the hot days; the plants kept in the apartment must be watered even in the cold months, remembering to vaporize the foliage often with demineralized water.
In the vegetative period, provide fertilizer for flowering plants every 10-15 days, mixed with the water of the watering, in a slightly lower dose than that recommended by the fertilizer manufacturer.
The soil must always be fresh: especially during the summer it will therefore be important to irrigate frequently to prevent it from drying out completely. The ideal moments for this operation are early mornings or evenings, avoiding to wet the foliage. Also in this case a thick mulch based on sphagnum material can be a valid help to limit evaporation.
For a better development of this genus of perennial plant it is best to plant in a soil very rich in humus, soft and well-drained; the abutilons grown in the container remain fairly small in size, which remain so if the use of excessively large containers is avoided. To obtain a plant with dense foliage it is good to remember to prune too long branches at the beginning of spring.
This malvacea prefers fresh, deep and rich in organic substance soils. However, drainage must also be taken care of, in order to avoid excessive water stagnation in case of heavy rains.
The ideal is therefore to work the area well in advance (already in autumn) by incorporating a good quantity of organic soil conditioner. If the substratum still appears to be too compact, we can add a bit of woodland and peat, as well as creating a layer of gravel on the bottom.
Multiplication and propagation
The multiplication of Abutilon plants occurs by seed, in February-March, in a warm bed; the new plants can be planted in April-May. In spring and autumn it is also possible to practice semi-woody cuttings, which root quite easily.
Propagation by cuttings is the simplest and has very high success rates. It can be practiced from spring to late summer (for example to prepare new plants for years to come, especially if you live in the North).
Segments are taken in which there are at least 5 gems and are inserted into the ground up to the height of the third. It can be done in any substrate, although the ideal one must be draining, but always kept slightly moist.
You can proceed in the same way by taking the quotes.
THE ABUTILON CALENDAR
from March to June
|Sowing||From March to June|
|Flowering||May-October (depending on the species)|
Pests and diseases
The plants grown in the ground are very healthy: you only need to fear the snails that, thanks to the spring humidity, can seriously damage the development of the first shoots.
In pot, especially if we keep the plant inside (warmly not recommended) the problems are rather frequent: aleurodidi, red spider mite, cochineals, aphids. For each of us we use specific products, even if the best care is to move the sample outside in a well-ventilated area.
The plant is often affected by aphids and whitefly. In the event that the presence of these parasites is noted, it is necessary to intervene promptly with specific insecticide products that can effectively counteract the problem. It is also possible to use methods based on natural products, such as garlic or nettle-based preparations. To obtain them it is necessary to boil garlic in water; it must then be filtered and vaporized on the affected specimens to eliminate the problem.
The abutilon is not very rustic. The most resistant can withstand a maximum of -10 ° C, but many begin to suffer already at -5 ° C; this means that in the Center-South, cultivation as perennials in open ground is possible on the coasts and near the great lakes. The covering of the foliage with non-woven fabric can be useful (especially at the end of winter, to prevent frosts and sudden winds from burning the sprouts). A thick mulch is also highly recommended: the roots of the abutilon are in fact very resistant, if protected. It may indeed happen that the aerial part dries up completely, but then there are new underground jets.
In areas with a more rigid climate it is advisable to keep them in pots in order to shelter them (in a bright but not heated room); It is also possible to consider them as annuals, always obtaining new specimens from cuttings.
Planting and uses
The ideal time for transplanting is the beginning of spring, when the frosts are definitely over. The abutilon can be used both as an isolated specimen, or inside borders or flowerbeds, in the second or third row (depending on the final size to be reached). There are also varieties with climbing habit: however, they need support to be tied to. In this case we carefully avoid locations that are too windy. The long branches can be used however also as ground cover or decombenti.
Abutilon needs plenty of nourishment to support its long flowering season. It is therefore important to spread a thick layer of manure in the autumn to be incorporated into the soil at the end of winter. We can then further help the plant by spreading, in April, a granular for slow-release flowering plants and then supporting monthly with a liquid fertilizer with a high content of phosphorus and potassium.
Pot culture is not difficult. We choose a container at least 40 cm deep and as wide. After creating a good draining layer, insert the plant and fill it with a mixture of leaf mold, peat and sand. We can also add a few handfuls of flour or pellet manure.
The potted plants give better results using, weekly, a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants, from March to October.
In winter we move the pots in a little heated room (from 12 to 16 ° C): a period of vegetative rest is indispensable because the plant returns to produce buds when the warm weather arrives.
Being an extremely voracious plant it must be repotted every year, at the end of winter. Let us free the roots from the exhausted earth as much as possible and shorten them slightly.
Pruning and cleaning
A light annual pruning is essential to favor the renewal of the plant and will give us a well-balanced, harmonious and floriferous specimen. The abutilon blooms on the branches produced during the vintage: it then proceeds with pruning at the end of winter. All branches are shortened by about 1/3 and those that are sick, dry or poorly positioned are eliminated. As the plant grows it is then useful to practice topping.
Abutilon: Varieties and species of Abutilon
It is a shrub erected by light green foliage similar to that of maples. In warm climates it easily reaches 3 meters in height. Flowering lasts throughout the growing season: the corollas are bell-shaped, from yellow to orange with red streaks; even the stamens are very ornamental. The variety "Thompsonii" has salmon-colored flowers with dark red streaks. The leaves are stained or streaked with yellow instead.
Abutilon x hybridum
Horticultural hybrid; blooms from mid-spring to the first cold. Corollas are hanging, bell-shaped or round, in a large number of shades. It grows up to 2 meters, but is always wider than it is tall. The branches are soft and, in mild climates, the foliage is persistent.
Of large dimensions: it can reach a height / width of 3 m x 3 m. It blooms in full summer with beautiful and large open corollas, mostly in shades of mauve and white. The stamens, short and yellow, are extremely decorative and attract a large number of insects
It reaches a maximum height of 2 meters and has a very branched habit. The heart-shaped leaves have a velvety surface. The flowers are small, open corolla, yellow (sometimes with red spots in the center). Very used in the East as a medicinal plant.
Abutilon x suntense
Up to 3 meters high, it has vigorous growth and a broad and branched habit. The leaves are decorative due to their greyish coloration that goes well with the open corollas, in a beautiful light mauve. It blooms at the end of spring. Among the most rustic.
It has a climbing or decombing habit. The branches, thin and soft, reach 2 meters in length. It blooms from the beginning of summer to the end of the season. The corollas have the shape of a red lantern with yellow edges; beautiful even the long stamens. Also available a variegated leaf cultivar in gold. Rustic up to -10 ° C. If covered it lives well outside even in the North.