This beautiful and comparatively hardy plant was introduced from Brazil in 1837 by Dr. Hook a renowned botanist.

Abutilon (aubūtīlūn ), is commonly called flowering maple since  some species these plants have maple-like leaves, although the genus is not related to the true maples). These plants are very decorative for the summer garden. Common hybrid forms arise from crosses between the two parent species, Abutilon darwinii and Abutilon pictum.

The plants includes annuals, perennials, shrubs, and small trees from 1-10 m tall, and is found in the tropical and subtropical regions of all continents. The leaves are alternate, unlobed or palmately lobed with 3-7 lobes. The flowers are conspicuous, with five petals, mostly red, pink, orange, yellow or white.

It is an evergreen Shrub which can grow up to 3m by 3m. It is hardy and suitable for warm climates. It normally does shed leafs and is evergreen throughout the year. It flowers for nine months out of the twelve months. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).

Today a large number of hybrids of this plant are available but the best are -  Anna Crozy (the flowers lilac-pink, veined with white); Chinois (flowers large, pale orange-shaded red); Darwini compacta (bright rose, reticulated with crimson); Le Grelot (rose shading to magenta); Louis Marignac (delicate pink); Princess Marie (rosy lake); Prince of Orange (orange-red, veined with crimson); Reine d'Or' (clear gold yellow); Seraph (pure white); Vesuvius (brilliant red). The best of those with variegated leaves are Darwini tesselatum, Niveum marmoratum, Sellowianum marmoratum, and Vexillarium variegatum.

SOIL CONDITIONS:The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils which are well drained. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It requires moist soil and can die out if the soil is left dry for over 3 days.

LIGHT REQUIREMENT:Requires a sunny location in the garden but can do well in partial shade.

FRETILISATION: Any good garden fertiliser is recommended but a low urea and high phosphorus and potash mix goes well with these plants. Addition of bone meal and farmyard manure is also necessary once a year.

PROPOGATION:These plants can be grown from seed or nursery grown plants can be purchased for transplantation in your garden.

Sow the seeds in seeding boxes or pots in early February. Germination should take place within 15-21 days. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out and transplant them into individual pots.

PESTS: In these plantsno significant insect or disease problems have been noted. However watch out for whitefly which sometime do attack them.

WHERE TO GROW: Beds, borders, pots, window boxes or containers.

The seeds are available with most nurseries or seed suppliers. You can also procure these from M/s Krishendra Nurseries, Banglore. Their email is: knursery@blr.vsnl.net.in