The dog days of summer can rough up a garden’s annuals. That’s why gardeners need a few plants like trailing abutilon (Abutilon megapotamicum), a subtropical Brazilian shrub that comes into its own in the heat of the summer and keeps flowering until frost. Its cute, 2-inch blooms of red and yellow hang down like tiny lanterns all over the plant. And though trailing abutilon is technically a perennial, it grows so fast in a single season that it makes a fantastic annual in most of the United States.
Common name: Trailing abutilon, flowering maple, candy corn plant
Botanical name: Abutilon megapotamicum
Plant type: Shrub, but typically grown as annual
Zones: 8 to 10
Height: 3 to 6 feet tall, depending on site
• Sun: Full sun to part shade
• Soil: Average to rich, well-drained
• Moisture: Average
• Mulch: Add a layer of mulch to help preserve moisture in the soil.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By seed and cutting
Pests and diseases
• Rust, mosaic virus, and leaf spots can be problems.
• May attract mealybugs, spider mites, or whiteflies when grown inside.
• Hummingbirds love the flowers of trailing abutilon.
• Trailing abutilon looks good in hanging baskets.
• This tender perennial can overwinter in a container if you bring it inside. In fact, many flowering maples are grown as houseplants.
All in the family
• Although one of its common names is flowering maple, the trailing abutilon is not in Aceraceae, the maple family. It’s called flowering maple because the shape of the leaf resembles a maple leaf.
• Trailing abutilon is in Malvaceae, the mallow family, which also includes okra, jute, cotton, and hibiscus.
Where to buy
• Almost Eden, Merryville, LA, 337-375-2114, www.almostedenplants.com
• Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, NC, 919-772-4794, www.plantdelights.com
• Sweet Nectar Nursery, Battle Ground, WA, 360-624-4901, www.sweetnectarnursery.com
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of Abutilon megapotamicum by Tracy Walsh)