Long a favorite in Florida gardens, flowering maples continue to win new fans in other regions of the South. This group of semitropical shrubs grows quickly and produces attractive blooms nearly continuously in warm weather. Provide moist, fertile, well-drained soil; watch out for whiteflies and scale insects. Excellent in containers on porch, deck, or patio; in cold-winter areas, bring inside to a sunny window before frost. Easily propagated from cuttings taken from current season's growth. Do not overfeed with nitrogen or you'll get lots of leaves and few flowers. In areas where cold hardiness is questionable, be sure plants have good drainage in winter.
A. hybrids. Also grown as annuals in colder climates. The best-known flowering maples. Upright, arching growth to 410 ft. tall, with equal spread. Broad, maple-like leaves can reach 8 in. across; drooping, bell-like, 2- to 3-in. flowers come in white, yellow, pink, or red. The following are all good choices.
'Bartley Schwartz'. Arching and weeping, with nearly constant production of orange-yellow, drooping blossoms. Good hanging basket plant or standard.
Bella series. Assorted colors, seed grown. 3-in. flowers on plants 1418 in. tall.
'Boule de Neige'. Large, vigorous, upright plant with white flowers.
'Canary Bird'. 3-in., clear yellow flowers from early summer to frost.
'Clementine'. Compact. Red-orange bells over a long season.
'Crimson Belle'. Deep red blossoms.
'Dwarf Red'. Compact and free branching, with orange-red flowers.
'Fairy Coral Red'. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 711. 12- to 18-in.-tall plants with salmon-pink flowers.
'Fool's Gold'. Upright to 4 ft.; rust-colored pendant flowers from early summer to frost.
'Kentish Belle'. Trailing habit; yellow-orange flowers.
'Kristen's Pink'. Compact to 2 ft. Pink, 3-in. flowers are ideal for garden or container.
'Linda Vista Peach'. Orange petals protrude from deep pink calyxes.
'Little Imp'. Narrow yellow flowers with red calyxes. Compact plant with arching habit.
Lucky series. Red, tangerine, white, or yellow flowers on compact, 12-in. plants.
'Marion Stewart'. Upright-growing plant producing orange flowers with attractive red veins.
'Mobile Pink'. Upright, compact growth. Large, wide-open flowers in pale pink with deeper pink veining.
'Moonchimes'. Yellow flowers on a compact plant.
'Orange Hot Lava'. Orange and red bells begin early summer on a 4-ft.-tall plant.
'Voodoo'. Upright to 6 ft. Bell-shaped red flowers bloom late summer to fall.
A. megapotamicum. TRAILING ABUTILON. Vine-shrub from Brazil. Vigorous growth to 10 ft. and as wide, with arrowlike, 112- to 3-in.-long leaves. Red-and-yellow, 112-in. flowers resembling tiny lanterns gaily decorate the long, rangy branches in spring and summer. Pinch branch tips to control size, force bushier growth. More graceful in detail than in entirety but can be trained to an interesting pattern. Usually best as loose, informal espalier. Good hanging basket plant. 'Marianne' has better, more intense flower color; 'Variegatum' has leaves mottled with yellow; 'Victory' is compact and floriferous, with small deep yellow flowers.
A. pictum. FLOWERING MAPLE. Maplelike leaves with showy flowers.
'Souvenir de Bonn'. Upright to 10 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide. Orange flowers with green, cream-edged foliage.
'Thompsonii'. Erect grower to 12 ft. tall and 512 ft. wide. Mottled yellow and green variegated leaves accent pale orange bells veined with red.
A. vitifolium. CHILEAN TREE MALLOW. From Chile. To 15 ft. tall, 8 ft. wide. Gray-green, maple-like leaves to 6 in. or longer. In summer, lilac-blue to white flowers are borne singly or in clusters on long stalks. Needs high humidity. 'Tennant's White' is a choice form.