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Plants to know – Abutilon or Chinese Lantern plant-Erakina

Published Date : April 25, 2022

Introduction Abutilon

Abutilon is a woody shrub that resembles the Chinese lantern–commonly known as that–and it hangs on the tree just like the lantern. There are several varieties of the Abutilon plant but the main focus of this blog is the Abutilon pictum or Indian mallow which is what will be discussed ahead.

Chinese Lantern Abutilon

Red Chinese lantern

Things to know about Abutilon

  • Abutilon is a fast-growing woody shrub.
  • It belongs to the Malvaceae family.
  • It is also known by the names Chinese Lantern and Indian Mallow
  • It grows faster in tropical and warm temperature areas as well as very cold areas. It can withstand a temperature of zero degrees celsius.
  • This plant requires protection from direct sunlight in high-temperature areas.
  • Its flower is consumable and is sweet. It is used to make soups.
  • Abutilon is a rare and very beautiful plant that attains its maximum growth in 4 to 5 months. It grows up to 15 feet and if proper care is given, it will spread around and will cover a wide area like an umbrella with flowers hanging all around. It is widely used as an ornamental plant and is grown in houses, offices, and public places. It can be planted even in pots. 

Chinese lantern plant hanging from its tree

Ideal climate

  • It grows mainly in tropical climate areas and can be seen in countries such as Brazil, Prague, Uruguay, and Argentina. It also grows well in a cool climate up to zero degrees. It may require the protection of shades if the climate is very hot. In the hot season, its leaves become tender and cannot withstand the heat.
  • In India, the ideal time for it to flower is from October to April and it stops flowering in hot summer. So it may require shades or a greenhouse to save from direct sunlight.

Its flowers

  • The highlight of the plant is its beautiful flowers which resemble the shape of Chinese lanterns hanging in the streets. A single tree will have too many flowers hanging all around.
  • Eventually, it will unfurl almost flat. Some hybrid plants are also there which are relatively small with a high density of flowers. Its color may vary from pure white to purple-blue but the main or commonly seen color of this plant is red and yellow–or total red with yellow highlights–in a striated form.

Abutilon pictum

Striated Abutilon plant about to bloom

Market value

There are numerous buyers of this shrub for decorating their houses, offices, parks, and other public utility centers. Besides its beauty, it is also used in the kitchen. It’s sweet and can be used to prepare soups. The various uses of this plant is what makes its market value high.

Care and tips to grow

  • Soil

These plants do not like prolonged dry climates and dry soil but at the same time, they do not like to sit in wet soil. So the most ideal soil for it is the sandy type which can ward off its moisture.

  • Fertilizers

Heavy feeding may be required for Abutilon plants probably because they do much blooming. Need to use fertilizers every alternate week especially if it is grown in containers. Also, it will be good if we frequently change the soil.

  • Pruning

Tip pruning young plants help them to spur new branches and get fuller shape. Snipping it back to a leaf joint will enable it to send out new branches.

Problems it will face

  • Insects

All the usual houseplant insects such as whiteflies, spiders, scales, etc will attack Abutilon which requires insecticides such as neem oil to protect It from insects.

  • Disease

The common disease affecting this plant is root rot, rust, Alternaria, etc. To avoid these, the area it is grown should have good air circulation and non-moist soil. Watering is also essential. Applying neem oil will help to disinfect insects and soil should be changed periodically if it is grown in pots.

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