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30.9.07

Abutilon striatum- Flower Maple

Flowering Maple, Standard Topiary, Urban Gardening, Easy HouseplantAlthough commonly called Flowering Maple, Abutilon striatum, is not a Maple tree. This plant gets this common name because the leaves resemble the leaves of Maple trees. Flowering Maples are in the Mallow family and closely related to Hollyhocks, Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon and Okra. Another relative of Abutilon striatum is the weed commonly called Velvet Leaf, while the flowers on Velvet leaf are smaller and the foliage is different the seed pods are similar in both plants. This plant is commonly found throughout South and Central America but is thought to be native to Brazil. In the United States it is grown as a shrub in warm climates and as an annual or houseplant in colder climates.



Parlor Maples were brought to North America from Europe in the 19th century where they quickly became a popular houseplant because of the handsome foliage and attractive flowers. Unfortunately this plant isn't as popular as a houseplant today as it once was because of the availability of more exotic looking tropical plants. I commonly see small plants growing in planters around Chicago during the summer but rarely see it for sale in garden centers in the Chicagoland area. I wish Flowering Maples were more utilized and available for sale because they are far more interesting houseplants than the ficus or schefflera. When happy Flowering Maples can flower all year long and their wonderful flowers come in a red, pink, yellow and salmon colors. Indoors they like bright light and over the winter should get a minimum of 3-4 hours of direct light with cool nights and warm days.

I personally prefer the solid green leaves over the mottled yellow leaves that I may come across when I'm lucky enough to encounter a Flowering Maple in a garden center. The mottled leaves are a result of virus commonly called Abutilon Mosaic Virus that was discovered and spread in 1868. That year one seedling in a shipment bound for England was discovered to have bright yellow mottling on the leaves. Quick to recognize a money making opportunity the importers vegetatively propagated the unusual seedling and it quickly became a favorite among Flowering Maple growers. Abutilon Mosaic Virus can't be transmitted by contact between plants but it can be transmitted if you graft an infected plant onto another or grow from infected seed. The virus doesn't affect the plants health or ornamental value-if anything the virus actually enhances the aesthetic quality of the plant.

If you're tired of the usual houseplants and looking to add a houseplant to your home or office consider growing a Flowering Maple, they're easy to propagate from seeds or cuttings and aren't very fussy.

24 comments:

  1. Thank you for all thew information! I'm not much into house plants but this one is beautiful.

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  2. I read about this houseplant when I received my first house plant book. Never really gave it any thought because I thought it would be to hard to grow.

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  3. Occasionally I see Abutilon at seasonal garden centres here in Ontario to be included in outdoor planters. But I don't think I've ever seen a plant as large as yours.

    Easy to grow, you say? I just might have to try growing one next summer!

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  4. Beautiful plant! Did you have to train it to grow as a standard or it that it's natural growth habit?

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  5. Abutilon is grown as shrubs here in So Cal, but I had no idea they'd do well indoors! Terrific entry, Mr BT

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  6. Hi – this is an invitation to join the Garden Bloggers Retro carnival. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the concept of a Blog carnival – if not I’ve explained it in detail on my site today (Oct 1). But basically the idea is to revive an old post which you think is worth rereading, or which you think new readers might enjoy. Send me the link to the post, and in November I’ll publish a series of posts describing and linking to all the posts people have nominated.
    I hope you’ll join in and we have a fun carnival!
    Sue

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  7. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    @ Connie

    I didn't train it, I bought it that as it when it was being discounted at the end of season sale. But it isn't hard to train a standard topiary this way. But there isn't much evidence of side branches being trimmed so maybe it is the variety that grows more upright?

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  8. Wonderfully informative post, MBT: The only thing I would add is that Abutilons are somewhat susceptible to aphids, but of course a spray of water or insecticidal soap takes care of that. I have a nice salmon-orange one right now, and am about to bring it in for the winter. Not as large as yours by a long shot, though! And I'm with you on the mottling--it doesn't look healthy or attractive to me; the all-green leaves are nicer.

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  9. I love Abutilon's, However, I did not know they were easy to propagate from cuttings, Why have I not tried this before..? I know now!~Thanks to your not only beautiful site, but informative also!
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge & your beautiful photo's!
    Cat

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  10. I have several types of abutilon.
    I love them because they are always in bloom.

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  11. I've got several of these and love them!

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  12. Thanks for your message about participating in the carnival. Just send me a link to any of your old posts that you's like to revive by the end of the month - I'll set up the carnival at the beginning of November.
    Sue

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  13. I haven't had much luck with Flowering Maples indoors. There is a garden centre here that sells many different ones ... and I keep on trying them. Getting them through the winter is my problem. I don't water them enough I suspect.

    Yours is beautiful ...

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  14. I would love to have one of these, but right now the "cat that climbs" and I are at war over the few remaining plants I have :)

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  15. nancy in venice ca6:02 PM

    Thanks for the information. While I have several abutilon species and hybrids in the garden (hummingbirds love them!), I didn't know that they were also house plants. Thanks also for the tip about cuttings.

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  16. Hi again, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. And thanks to Jodi for the info on aphids.

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  17. Lovely!
    P.S. Your header image looks like a cookie. Yum!

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  18. Nice info...I would love to try one of these indoors! Lovely bloom...unusual color, I think.
    Happy GTS!
    Julie

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  19. Thank you for this post! I'm always looking for another houseplant! ;-)

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  20. Anonymous6:25 PM

    I am new to this site and i had a question for you can i keep my flowering maple in the ground or is there any special care that i need to over winter the entire plant i live in the Toronto area but so far i have just kept a bag on at night
    Liz

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  21. Anonymous,

    I'm not sure what the climate is like in Toronto in the winter but I'm in Zone 5 in the US and here these plants don't survive the winter outdoors. They have to be brought into a warmer area you can treat them like a houseplant for the winter and put them outside in the spring.

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  22. Anonymous7:42 PM

    This is not A. striatum. this is A. pictum 'Thompsonii' or probably a hybrid of it. striatum does not have variegated foliage, has orange flowers with strong red veination, and is much larger statured with much bigger leaves (up to 8 inches across).

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  23. Anonymous4:00 PM

    Hello I am looking for flowering Maple, Abutilon striatum. I lost mine during the flood and have had no luck on finding one to purchase. Can anyone tell me where I can purchase one? Dont have a problem buying from the internet.

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  24. Anonymous4:14 PM

    Where can I purchase one of these?

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