{Almost} Wordless Wednesday :: Flowering Maple (Abutilon)

Posted on: February 4th, 2015 by Trillium Art

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Even though there has been more shoveling this week than all winter, I am encouraged to think that spring is really not that far away! It’s time to start thinking about different container arrangements since these usually include more tropicals than perennials. Tropical plants have me feeling warmer already! What colour scheme should I try this year? What are the new and exciting annuals and tropicals that will inspire me this year? Succulents are definitely going to play a big part of my sunny table centrepiece and the miniature ferns will be included on the shady front porch.

I like to keep my eye out for ‘thriller’ or focal plants that give height and drama to the vertical aspect of container design. The ‘filler’ and ‘spiller’ plants help to finish the design and are used to compliment the tallest plant. The Flowering Maple is a great one to help add the ‘wow factor’ to containers. It is not actually related to the maple tree, although the leaves bear a resemblance to our familiar maple leaf. The Flowering Maple is however, related to mallows and hibiscus, due to the similar flowers shapes and their abundance.

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Flowering Maples are small, upright shrubs with arching branches that tend to arch more with the continuous blooms. This plant is native to southern Brazil and is also found throughout South and Central America. They were very popular during the 19th century and could be found in many Victorian conservatories, hence the name ‘Parlour Maple’. Don’t be fooled, this is not an old-fashioned houseplant! I think the Flowering Maple is making a come-back wth different varieties now available and the opportunity to include them in different plantings.

When used in containers, be sure to plant Flowering Maples trained as a standard (a shrub trained to have one central leader or stem with a rounded head of branches). This gives more height and allows for more room for plants around the base (the filler plants). Depending on the variety, the flowers are available in many different colours. The lantern-like buds open to bell-shaped flowers with five overlapping petals and staminal columns that are typical of the mallow family (ie Hibiscus).

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Snipping back on some of the plants’ tips will help the Flowering Maple bush out and keep it blooming! Be sure the plant doesn’t dry out and stays well fed with a fertilizer every two weeks or a slow-release fertilizer.

Have you started to think of spring yet? I hope I’m not the only one starting to plan my gardens…isn’t that what winter is for? 🙂 What flowers are you looking forward to?

Zone: 9-10

Light Conditions: full sun to part shade

Soil: rich, well-drained soil

Height: can grow in a container up to 4’

Flowers: most flowers start off cup shaped and eventually unfurl to almost flat in colours of red, pink, yellow, white and pastel shades

Leaves: lobed, light green leaves, sometimes variegated with white and yellow

Tips: can be grown inside during the winter and taken outside for the summer

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