Abutilon megapotamicum [a-BEW-tih-lon meg-uh-poh-TAM-ih-kum] aka flowering maples are graceful, fast-growing plants with trailing stems.
It often blooms throughout a large portion of the year, offering extra color from spring to fall and possibly winter.
It is frequently referred to as the flowering maple. Other common names include:
- Trailing Abutilon
- Brazilian bell flower
- Chinese lantern
Brazilian bell flower is native to warm, semi-tropical Southern Brazil and neighboring regions. However, it makes a lovely addition to an enclosed porch or sunroom.
Abutilon Flowering Maple Care
Size and Growth
The flowering maple features thin stems and slender leaves. The willowy stems tend to hang, making it a perfect hanging plant or train stems on a trellis or hoop.
It also grows quickly growing up to four feet in a single season.
Flowering and Fragrance
The colorful flowers are the main highlight of this plant. The lantern-like, colorful bell-shaped flowers bloom in the early spring and last through the fall.
Under the right conditions, the flowers last into the winter.
The flowers dangle from long stalks and include a large, bulbous calyx.
From the red-orange bud, the yellow corolla appears resembling lanterns, upside-down vases, or balloons.
The flowers have no scent but are pretty to look at throughout the year.
Light and Temperature
This native Brazilian plant enjoys full sun and grows in most regions. But, recommended for USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10. However, it doesn’t tolerate the frost.
When planted outdoors, give it partial shade in the summer. Strong direct sunlight, especially the midday sun, may be too much for this plant to survive.
Besides direct sunlight, the flowering maple doesn’t do well in strong winds and drafts. If possible, try to shelter it by growing it on a trellis.
When grown indoors, plants thrive in normal room temperature throughout most of the year.
In the winter, it enjoys slightly cooler temperatures but never below 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering and Feeding
Abutilon requires plenty of water during the warmer months. From March to August, check the plant daily. Plants quickly start to wither after drying out.
In the winter, the plant doesn’t need as much water. Just make sure the soil never dries out.
When fertilizing, feed the plant once per week during the active growing season.
Soil and Transplanting
The flowering maple grows just fine in regular well-drained soil grown indoors or outdoors.
If grown in containers or a pot, repot each spring. This encourages new growth during the warmer months. If you skip this step, the plant may not bloom.
In the early spring, cut back the older stems to allow new stems to appear.
If the plant starts to get too long or you want to grow in a specific shape, it’s also possible to trim the stems to the desired size.
It’s typically best to perform the grooming in the spring when repotting. This provides many months of active growth for the plant to recover from the stress.
How To Propagate Abutilon ‘Chinese Lanterns’
Propagating is possible with cuttings or seeds. In most cases, it’s easier to propagate from stem cuttings.
Take the cuttings in early in spring before the growing season starts. Take the cuttings when transplanting or repotting the plant while following these steps:
- Take three-inch to four-inch cuttings with several leaves.
- Dip cutting in hormone powder for rooting
- Pot the cuttings in three-inch pots.
- Water the new plants and cover with plastic.
- Cut holes in the plastic to allow ventilation.
- In several weeks, the cuttings should take root.
- The young plants should be fine in their three-inch pots.
- Some plants may need repotting by the following spring.
- This plant requires a good-size pot to support the delicate root system and prevent crowding.
Pests or Disease Problems Of Abutilon Plants?
This easy plant to care for has no significant threats or diseases. It’s also not known to be toxic to people or pets.
However, whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites may still pose a problem.
Spider mites are the hardest to get rid of. Try to catch the infestation early and treat it with a miticide.
Get rid of aphid attacks by washing them away with water or treated with an insecticide like a foliar pesticide neem spray oil.
With whiteflies, an insecticide is often the best solution.
NOTE: When using insecticide or miticide on younger plants, dilute the spray mixture to protect the delicate plant.
Suggested Abutilon Uses
This light, airy plant can easily help freshen any room getting plenty of light throughout the summer. It also grows as a hanging plant when grown indoors.
If grown outside, consider training the stems through a wire hoop or a trellis. The delicate stems may not survive strong winds and weather.