The Q&A Archives: Abutilons In Southern California

Question: On a whim I ordered 3 abutilon plants from Burpees, thinking they were "little guys" like nasturiums -- and now find they are akin to a small tree. How big can they get in Southern California? As we have hot summers, how can I best grow this "tree" -- full sun, part shade? And do they like ordinary garden soil or richer soil?

Answer: Abutilon is native to South America and will grow wonderfully well in your California garden. Abutilon hybridum is the most commonly grown, and is sometimes called flowering maple. These plants can grow to 8-10' with equal spread, becoming vining shrubs rather than upright trees. They grow rapidly and can become spindly so pinch out the growing tips regularly to produce an attractive, compact plant. You can also train yours into a single-trunked plant, or provide a trellis for it to climb. Give your Abutilons some shade from hot afternoon sun and plant them in average, well-draining soil. They'll need frequent watering during the growing season.

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