The Q&A Archives: Atypical Indoor Trees

Question: I am looking for an indoor tree that is unique. The location will be in New York City. The setting will be next to a large window (5 feet wide by nine feet tall, starting at one foot from the floor and rising to ten feet from the floor). The apartment has tall ceilings and is facing north on a block with relatively good light. The block is typically one of four and five story townhouses on a wide residential street.

I have always been fond of Maples (had one in the front yard when I grew up in Eagle Rock, CA). What I am looking is something unique, something special and atypical. I do not wish a common as indoor container tree nor am I looking for the typical plants or furns found so common in southern California. Is there any form of Maple that would do well in my setting? I am also wish to preserve the light passing through the window, so I do not wish a large bushy tree. Something like a weeping birch would also be great. My preferences do not seem to fit as an indoor tree. Do you have any suggestions. Thanks,

Answer: Flowering maple is the first tree to come to mind given your preferences. Abutilon is the botanical name. The leaves are very maple-like and the blossoms are intensly colored and quite striking. You can train Abutilon into a tree form or into a bush (by pinching out the growing tips. Some of the best hybrids include 'Bartley Schwartz', with orange-yellow flowers, 'Clementine', producing red-orange bell shaped flowers, 'Crimson Belle' with deep red flowers, and 'Thompsonii' with variegated green and creamy white foliage and pale orange bells veined with red. Enjoy your new tree.

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