Friday, July 24, 2009

Pretty picture: Abutilon 'Bella Mix'

Complete the SAT-style analogy:

Abutilon : ___________ :: Hibiscus : Kim Kardashian

a. Kourtney Kardashian
b. Khloe Kardashian
c. Rob Kardashian
d. Bruce Jenner
e. Khlorox Kardashian

Think about it. Take your time. If you don't know who the Kardashians are, I ENVY YOU.

Oh. But you still probably want an explanation. Okay. They're this family with a reality show ("Keeping Up With The Kardashians") 'cause they're famous for making sex tapes or something like that. And one of them is Olympic gymnast Bruce Jenner.

The reader will be relieved to learn that Bruce Jenner, now 59, does not to the best of my knowledge appear in the sex tapes.

The Kardashian-Jenner family.
Back, L-R: Rob K., Khloe K., Kris K., Bruce J., Kim K.
Front, L-R: Khlorox K., KarmaKarmaKarmaKarmaKhameleon K., Kourtney K.

I went to Wallace's Garden Center in Bettendorf, IA with the husband last weekend, and not only did they have all the annuals' prices cut, but they were inexplicably running a 20% off sale on houseplants too. So I bought a few houseplants, which will probably be fodder for future posts.

I also got an Abutilon. Lots of houseplant books include them, but I've never paid a lot of attention, because I've never seen any for sale until a few months ago. This one was relatively low-risk: only $2 (it was considered an annual), so I guess I can find out what they like by slowly bringing it to the brink of death. I believe I got the plant in this photo:

You can see the relationship to Hibiscus in the flowers, though they're smaller, more realistic-looking flowers by comparison. (Hibiscus flowers, though I like them, always seem a little bit excessive: too big, too bright, too much in some hard to define way. Abutilon is a little more down to earth, a little more relatable. Which is why my answer to the analogy above is b, Khloe Kardashian, because she's the only Kardashian who, though clearly in the 99th percentile of pretty, still looks like someone you might actually know. The judges will also accept c, Rob Kardashian, who is arguably even more plausible as an ordinary person but makes a less-obvious comparison to Kim than Khloe does. Option d, Bruce Jenner, is completely wrong, since as far as I know there are no members of the Malvaceae comparable to a man whose face is clearly trying desperately to crawl away from the skull to which it is attached.)

Anyway. If anybody has prior experience with caring for indoor Abutilons, I'd be really interested. The only houseplant book I have that mentions them mainly emphasizes that they grow fast, which is nice to know if true, though this particular series appears to be a short variety ( says the "Bellas" stay under two feet tall.), so even that information is not necessarily true. So any experience you've got, I'd like to hear.


lynn'sgarden said...

I actually see alot of Flowering Maples in my neck of nurseries (NJ). I think I would enjoy the plant more if the blooms weren't so droopy, but they do come in the prettiest colors! Being tropical, they would require bright light indoors, and, like hibiscus, water only when soil is dry. Training as a standard is easy, as are stem propagations..good luck!

Okay, I did choose Bruce because of his trying sooo hard not to look And now I'll be humming Boy George all day...thanks alot!!

sheila said...

I find them a bit challenging as houseplants. They do like bright light and will get tall and very lanky without it. They wilt easily if they get dry, and drop a lot of leaves, so I wouldn't let them get bone dry ever. They are prone to whitefly.

They make a really nice indoor-outdoor container plant. You can overwinter them indoors, then whack them back mercilessly if they get lanky and put them outside after frost is past.

They are also semi-hardy. They will survive outdoors down to maybe 25 or 30 degrees, which is kind of interesting.

To grow indoors, especially in the winter, I would pick a cool and sunny place to keep any potential bug issues from multiplying too fast.

Hope that helps. I have an Abutilon 'Thompsonii' on my deck right now - not sure if I'll treat it as an annual this fall or if I'll bring it in. I hate whiteflies.

sheila said...

PS - the stem cuttings are wicked easy to do, so if it gets too tall and lanky, just start over with some cuttings.

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

Boy, I'd say that Sheila has said it right on! She definitely know abutilon and how to deal with it. I used to grow them back East but now, in Arizona, it is out of the question! So I thank you for showing all the lovely colored flowers! I miss them!

Pam said...

My abutilons are in the ground (they froze back to the ground last year, but did return - zone 8b) - I would think indoors that you'd need to keep them pruned, but I don't know.

Oh, I don't know the Kard-whatever folks. After what you said, I must be lucky!

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Whitefly and aphids, in my experience, although I nurtured one for several years before it just. faded. away. Although in its defense it could have been that I went away for a week on a press trip and longsuffering spouse neglected to water it. I succumb to the urge to buy them periodically, because the flower colours are so rich; I simply treat them like I would a cineraria and compost when necessary. You'll do brilliant with them, though, having all green fingers rather than only thumbs.

Anonymous said...

good points and the details are more precise than somewhere else, thanks.

- Norman