We are wintering our Abutilon. We have done it before successfully but this year something is different. In the attached photo you will see how the green bark has been stripped away and we do not understand if it is an insect problem (we did spray with Endall) but the plant does not seem at all well. Any ideas?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners concerning your overwintering Abutilon spp. (Flowering Maple).
In general, in Toronto’s hardiness zone 6, flowering maples are a group of tender perennials, grown as seasonal annuals, in containers, or as houseplants. When grown outdoors they do best in full sun, or partial shade. They are able to grow in any type of soil as long as it is well-drained and evenly moist.
You do not mention the growing conditions and location of your flowering maple. Is your plant located in a sunny but cool location? When overwintering your plant indoors these plants prefer a bright, sunny but cool location, making sure that the temperature is around 15C.
Was the soil allowed to go completely dry? During active growth (spring and summer) the soil should be kept evenly moist; however water should be reduced in the winter without letting the plant dry out completely during periods of slow growth.
Abutilon spp. are susceptible to common household pests such as aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, scale and spider mites. Did you notice any of the above insects on your plant? You mention that you sprayed your plants with EndAll, an approved insecticide in Ontario, which kills the above insects at any stage of development from egg to adult. Even though this product is OMRI– listed, and USDA approved, for organic gardening it is still important to follow the instructions on the bottle. For example: the instructions mention holding the bottle 12″- 18” from the plant surface, and not to wet the plant to the point of runoff.
My suggestion would be to continue watching your plant, making sure to water it when needed. You can begin monthly fertilizing with a half strength dilution of 10-10-10 fertilizer once growth begins in late March.
The University of Wisconsin’s article, Flowering Maple, Abutilon spp. has additional information on the growth and care of this beautiful plant.