Originating from South America, the Abutilon belongs to the large mallow family (Malvaceae). Native to Chile, Uruguay and Brazil, there are now approximately 150 species of this shrub growing in the wild all over the world. This rewarding patio plant comes in a wide variety of colours and has many attractive features. Admire the striking, bell-shaped flowers which usually hang down and notice that some species actually have very decorative leaves. Some variants have green leaves while others have spotted leaves. Did you know that the Dutch name for the Abutilon ‘Big Bell’ means ‘Belgian Flag’? That is because the colours of the flower produced by this Abutilon are the same as those of the Belgian flag, namely black, yellow and red.
Where to put the plant on your patio or balcony
The Abutilon is easy to care for. It should be placed in a warm spot but not in direct sunlight because the leaves of the Abutilon will curl in such conditions and eventually drop off. The plant should also be placed in a spot which is sheltered from the wind on your patio or balcony. Do you have a conservatory? If so, the Abutilon will thrive here too. Place the Abutilon in a brightly coloured pot on a patio or balcony. Do not plant directly in the soil or border, otherwise it will be at risk from unwelcome guests.
Caring for your Abutilon
The Abutilon needs a lot of water and therefore you should water it regularly. Don’t let the potting soil dry out! You should also feed the plant once every two weeks. As a result, your patio plant will continue to produce beautiful flowers throughout the spring, summer and autumn. Faded flowers should be removed in order to encourage the plant to produce new flowers. The flowers are rich in nectar that may drip from the flowers.
It is a good idea to prune your Abutilon several times in order to help it retain its shape and ensure that it remains compact. Prune young shoots without touching the old branches.