Abutilon menziesii (Ko'oloa'ula)

Scientific Name

Abutilon menziesii Seem.

Common Names

Ko'oloa'ula, Red Llima

Scientific Classification

Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Malvoideae 
Tribe: Malveae
Genus: Abutilon

Flower

Color: Maroon to pink
Bloom Time: Throughout the year

Description

Abutilon menziesii is a spreading shrub that grows up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. Branches are covered with dense hairs and appear velvety. Leaves are heart-shaped, silvery, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long. They have toothed edges and up to 2 inches (5 cm) long stems that allow them to flutter in the wind. Flowers are maroon to pink with a yellow center and yellow staminal column. They hang down like bells from the leaf axils. On cultivated plants, flowering occurs throughout the year except during the hottest months.

Abutilon menziesii - Ko'oloa'ula
Photo via picssr.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 9a to 10b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 40 °F (+4.4 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Abutilon is not an especially difficult plant to grow. During warmer, dry winters, they are sometimes affected by spider mites, and they are known for leggy growth. To encourage bushy growth, prune the plant by 25 percent to 40 percent in the late winter, right when new growth is about to start. Also, throughout the summer, occasionally pinch off new growth to encourage healthy growth. When pruning, make sure to stagger your cuts and remove some large branches to open the plant's canopy. As a final note, these plants dislike acidic soil, so it is unnecessary to add additional lime to your potting mix. Instead, stick with the basic peat-based potting soil and make sure to refresh it as the mixture decomposes and becomes more acidic over time.

Abutilon is a relatively fast-growing plant, especially when they're young. Consequently, younger plants might need to be repotted twice a year, once at the beginning of the growing season and once in the middle. Older plants, however, benefit from being slightly pot-bound, so they should be repotted either every other year or yearly into only slightly larger pots. Pot-bound plants tend to grow more vigorously and bloom better. See more at How to Grow and Care for Abutilon.

Origin

It is endemic to Hawaii.

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