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David Beaulieu

How to Care for Abutilon Plants

By September 19, 2008

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You may have seen Abutilon plants at the nursery without even knowing it. Abutilon plants are the ones that appear to be dwarf maple trees, except that they bear mallow-like flowers (thus one of their common names, "Indian mallow"). Marie Iannotti tells you how to care for Abutilon plants in this article, in case you'd like to try growing one. If you live in a cold climate, you'll have to keep this sub-tropical specimen in a container, growing your Abutilon plant outside in the summer, then moving it inside for the winter.


January 3, 2009 at 10:58 am
(1) Jen Franklin says:

I have a salmon flower abutilon and have just pruned it back from 6′ tall. It was in a pot wneh I bought it, but didn’t do too well. The last 3 yrs it has been in the garden all through winter, I live on the south coast. Many gardeners have said it is the best Abutilon they have ever seen. I am very pleased with it and the profuse flowers give me and friends a lot of joy in the summer. The only fault it seems to have is that the blooms do fall off when fully open, is this o.k?.

April 8, 2009 at 6:11 pm
(2) Liliane says:

I have a plant the same whic his about 6 feet tall – can I cut that back down to 6 inches and will it grow back – it is very sparse of leaves for the first 3 – 4 feet and now it’s growing fast but will probably fall over. So if I cut it down to 6 inches, will it regrow again.

August 8, 2009 at 2:50 am
(3) Renee says:

Abutilon can be cut back harshly, but I’ve never cut mine to 6 inches. I cut it back every spring to about a foot tall and it comes back quickly and beautfully. Harsh pruning seems to make it grow wider and stronger, so it’s less apt to fall over.

April 14, 2010 at 12:22 am
(4) NeliTreahreet says:


Just saying hello while I read through the posts

hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read and then a lot to wright

October 23, 2010 at 10:24 am
(5) Sandra says:

I’m just thrilled to discover (THANK YOU GOOGLE) that the cuttings I just liberated from an overgrown abandoned garden are abutilon, yellow and red lantern style. Very beautiful and I plan to try and propagate, even though it’s late October, it might work. I have not seen may plants with such an interesting flower and will be ecstatic if they take.—Sandra

October 24, 2010 at 8:46 am
(6) landscaping says:

Thanks for posting, Sandra, and good luck with the abutilon. We bring ours in every winter and keep it in a south-facing window.

January 31, 2012 at 11:34 am
(7) gina says:

Nice work you have got going on here. I like it. Keep it up please.

April 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm
(8) P. Hillyer says:

Which fertilizer should I use for my Abutillon?

April 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm
(9) landscaping says:


My wife uses a general-purpose fertilizer on her abutilon, and the plant always performs well for her.

June 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm
(10) Betty Smith says:

Hello – I have one of the red and yellow lantern type abutilon which I left in the garden all winter – thank goodness it has survived. I would like to know how and when to take a cutting in case it doesn’t survive next winter as it is one of the most beautiful flowers I know. Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks

June 27, 2012 at 7:16 am
(11) landscaping says:


There’s a discussion here of how to propagate Abutilon via cuttings.

June 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm
(12) Hazel says:

I had a pair of beautiful abutilons, one I cut back slightly in May but it is now completely bare, no leaves whatsoever, should I cut it back in the hope that it will recover or have I killed it?

June 19, 2013 at 7:25 am
(13) landscaping says:


I’d take a sharp knife and make a small incision in a branch of the abutilon in question, looking for green under the bark. If you find none, that branch is dead and can be removed. Continue checking other branches; stop when you find green — which means the plant is alive.

August 7, 2013 at 12:59 am
(14) Margaret Beyer says:

Hi David,
I live in Central Victoria and have a variety of Abutilons in my large garden – dark red, apricot, orange and yellow – all quite different in the shape of the flower and height.. We have quite savage frosts here and they all travel very well through the winter. I only cut them back when they get a bit leggy. We are on acreage and quite exposed to the elements – on the side of a hill and facing due North. We do now have a few large trees in and around the garden but most of it is open.
If they are as sensitive as you say, I can only think that they must be protected by all of the others plants and trees around them.
If there are people who love them and want them in their garden, I’d at least give it a try.

August 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm
(15) landscaping says:

Hi Margaret,

Thank you so much for contributing your report. I’m actually not surprised that your Abutilons survive the winter just fine. Your region is a lot warmer than some of us here in the states may realize. You can grow all sorts of plants that we can’t!

October 1, 2013 at 1:44 am
(16) Lorraine says:

Purchased a pretty pink abutilon today and already have a red/yellow and a yellow one. When can I take cuttings for friends? They are such lovely shrubs. I live in Mildura; it’s frosty, after a very hot in summer. What do I fertilize them with?

October 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm
(17) landscaping says:


Marie’s advice (see article linked to above) is to take a cutting “while the branch is still green and somewhat tender.” While I haven’t taken abutilon cuttings, myself, I imagine that if you meet this requirement, you can perform the operation any time of year. As for fertilizing, an all-purpose fertilizer is fine.

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