Abutilons are the ideal solution if you're after a plant with an exotic look, while being vigorous and easy to grow.
The bold leaves are similar to those of maples, and together they create a fine foil for the shrub's colourful flowers over a very long season.
Abutilons are sun-lovers. None are fully hardy in the UK, but most will grow beautifully in a large conservatory. Where these half-hardy shrubs really excel is on sunny fences and walls in large patio pots, providing plenty of summer colour.
Some, including varieties of the relatively hardy Abutilon vitifolium and Abutilon x suntense, are particularly good choices for new gardens as they grow strongly, flower impressively, then decline as longer-term plantings come into their own. However, they're not hardy in cold areas.
Other abutilons are best treated as half-hardy, grown in summer containers or as seasonal wall shrubs and overwintered in a conservatory or on an indoor windowsill.
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Check out some of our favourite abutilons to grow.
Abutilon 'Ashford Red'
Abutilon 'Ashford Red' is a tall, evergreen shrub needing frost protection. It blooms from July to October.
Height x spread: 3m x 2m.
Abutilon x suntense 'Jermyns'
Abutilon 'Jermyns'. Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images.
'Jermyns' is a dramatic, quick-growing shrub, hardy to -5ºC, with masses of large showy flowers from May to July. It has been given the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
H x S: 4m x 2.5m.
Abutilon 'Souvenir de Bonn'
Abutilon 'Souvenir de Bonn'. Photo: Getty Images.
'Souvenir de Bonn' has pretty, maple-shaped, variegated leaves and veined bells. It flowers from June to August, and isn't frost hardy. AGM.
H x S: 2.5m x 2.5m.
'Nabob' bears bowl-shaped, deep crimson flowers and rich green foliage. Not frost hardy. It has a long flowering period from June to October. AGM.
H x S: 3m x 3m.
Abutilon 'Kentish Belle'
Abutilon 'Kentish Belle' has gorgeous apricot flowers nestled in red calyces, which dangle from purple shoots. It's hardy to -5ºC. Flowers from August to November. AGM.
H x S: 3m x 3m.
How to grow abutilons
- Outside, best in rich, free-draining soil on a sunny south-facing wall or fence
- Better still, grow abutilons in large patio containers of John Innes No. 3 potting compost and move them into a conservatory in autumn
- Pinch out abutilon shoot tips in spring to increase their bushiness
- Some varieties are hardy in sheltered areas and milder climates, but all abutilons need protection from frost