SEATTLE — Abutilons, (flowering maples) are among the showiest shrubs you can plant in your garden. They flower from early summer until late into fall, and Ciscoe Morris says hummingbirds feed non-stop on the colorful lantern-shaped flowers.
"A few species of Abutilon magapotamicum have proven hardy in our area, but to survive, even the hardiest varieties must be planted early in the season and in a protected site."
According to Ciscoe, once it gets through the winter, your flowering maple will reward you in summer with nonstop exotic, colorful blooms. If you don’t want to risk losing a prized specimen, he says to dig it up by Thanksgiving or sooner if freezing weather is forecast, pot it up and overwinter it as a house plant or place it next to a bright window or under a grow light in your unheated garage.
In winter water only when the soil surface feels dry. By spring it will look pretty rough, so when you plant it back into the garden around Mother’s day, cut back to healthy strong growth. If you decide to risk leaving one out in the garden to see if it will survive, take cuttings first. Cuttings root easily in water, and planted in spring, usually grow rapidly enough to bloom by mid-summer, which will save you from the wrath of angry hummingbirds in case the one you left outside didn’t survive!