eclpsprinc(Z9 CA)February 20, 2007

I would love to hear from anyone in zone 9 about their experience and advise with growing different Abutilons. I've searched and searched and get quite a bit of conflicting information on my web searches.

Thanks a bunch!


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I've had abutilon shrubs in my side yard for 5 years. They grow beautifully with some afternoon shade. The hummingbirds live on them from about March until December. The 'Nabob' does extremely well and grows to about 8 feet tall by 5 feet wide. They took a little bit of a hit in this freeze we had, but are recovering. Canyon Creek Nursery, where I got mine, has a wonderful selection on line. If you have any more questions, just let me know.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 6:53PM
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eclpsprinc(Z9 CA)

Thank you so much!

How do you think they would do with morning shade and sun from about 2:30 on? I'm germinating seeds right now for 'Suntense'. Everywhere I've reads says it requires full sun. I've also ordered seven different kinds from Kartuz Nursery. I'm just concerned where to place them. I have a bed in the back which is mostly bright shade... maybe just a couple of hours of sun against the house in the am. Then I have a bed in front which is shade in the morning but sun in the afternoon.

This is a new home with no existing landscaping other than grass. I'm still getting used to the sun/shade hours and with the season changing... I see things shifting around a bit recently.

Oh, I hope I have hummers! I would just love that! I think I saw maybe two last year.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 8:24PM
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They definitely need some shade from the afternoon sun. If you are in the valley, then definitely, but if you are near the coast, then you could probably get away with more sun. I have a couple in almost complete shade that don't do well at all. Make sure you give regular water. I know they would burn up in afternoon sun here in Lodi.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 9:36PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

I have one in full sun and two in shade. Both are doing well. Yes, the hummers love them but they don't grow tall enough for them to build a nest in one.

Add a hummer feeder to your yard and they are sure to hang around. In fact, they become territorial over their feeder.
Mix 1/4 cup of granulated white sugar to one cup hot water from the kettle. Stir and let sit until cool. Fill the feeder and watch them come.

Best wishes,

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 9:53PM
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By planting enough abutilon, you will not need a feeder. No, the hummers don't make nests in the abutilon, but it is their primary source of nectar in my yard over a long season. I imagine that getting their nutrition from flowers is much better for them than sugar. I'm not even sure that sugar can't be harmful to them, so I would research that. My 'Nabobs' are very tall and they can feed there without worrying about cats.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 10:38PM
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eclpsprinc(Z9 CA)

I wonder if it depends on the type? On the Cistus website, they have some they describe as needing full shade and others, sun. I ordered 'Tangelo' from them and more from Kartuz.

Edna... which do you have in full sun? I'm really wondering about my 'Suntense' seeds. Everywhere I've looked says full sun for this one. I have three germinated so far.

mamamia... I live smack in the Central Valley. I think we got to 112 degrees last summer. I've never put out hummer feeders because I didn't want to attract ants. I did see one or two last year... they were on the Morning Glories, Passiflora Lady Margaret and Iochroma. I'm hoping to attract more. This is a new subdivision with young trees... I get excited just to see a bird!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 11:40PM
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Maggie M.(z7 Sunset7 CA Sierra Foothills)

Mamamia - What Edna posted is the standard homemade hummingbird food recipe (used widely for years across America and posted at many bird sites). I make mine in the microwave - easy to just do a cup, I like it to boil to get that full sugar syrup effect - then cool, then fill the feeders & then watch your hummingbird population grow every year. Tis true - I don't have to keep the feeders full over the summer when blooms are plentiful (and you'd have to change it every day due to what heat would do to it) but I keep them going spring and fall through winter and sporadically over the summer. The hummers - unlike kids and some of us adults - don't 'od' themselves on sugar - but, like a bloom - take what they need and move on.

Abutilons - I love the variegated leaf ones (well and actually some of the really big pastel flowered ones - oh, and the red ..oh that yellow .). My zone 9 garden grew them to 12 foot tall (I'd seen them that big at Ruth Bancroft gardens - also zone 9 - and never realized mine would catch up. By a fence - all get afternoon shade - two under redwoods. Leaves will crisp up and it won't be so attractive if it gets too much sun during the hottest parts of our summer (I haven't tried the Suntense). The fence helped them all make it through our nasty frost a bit back. I'm bay area zone 9 - your Central valley gets just a bit worse - I'd really shoot for afternoon shade.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 12:24AM
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eclpsprinc(Z9 CA)

Thank you all so much for the much needed advise. I wish there was more consistent information out there on the web for these. I can't wait to have these blooming in my yard!


    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 12:52AM
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For even more hummers, try planting salvia guaranitica, agastaches, california fuschia, dudleya, echeveria (hens & chicks, grevillea rosmarinifolia.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 11:08AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

The Abutilon 'Suntense' in my experience is better with cooler summer climates, and will definitely need some light shade and regular irrigation to stand valley heat and sun. This one is also deciduous, and is quite different from the other more evergreen Abutilons. In general they will all do best with bright shade and/or dappled sun/morning sun, and will simply burn up with mid afternoon sun in a hot interior valley climate. Sizes for Abutilon cultivars and hybrids vary widely, you might want to look at the web site for Monterey Bay Nursery in Watsonville, which has on-line photos and good descriptions of many hybrids/cultivars and species they sell. They also supply many retail nurseries throughout the state, so your local retail nursery can probably special order from them. Their plants are also sold at Orchard Supply Hardware Stores, if you have one near you.

In my experience, Abutilons look best in more coastal gardens, but if you water well and can give them bright shade, they can do well inland as well. They are also going to need some frost protection if you want to keep them full size, although many if not most will come back from the roots in more normal light freezes.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 12:32PM
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Actually, mine withstood this freeze we had very well. The top leaves fell off, but the stems and the bottom 2/3 of the plants are just fine. I have the evergreen type in my yard.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 3:58PM
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eclpsprinc(Z9 CA)


Loved that site! Thank You! I can't wait to receive mine and see them bloom. Perhaps all of us can do an exchange of cuttings or seed later in the season.

I'll have the following:
Moon Glow
Pink Charm
Pink Belle
Souvenir De Bonn
Bella Mix
Bella Yellow

mamamia... I've got over 75 jugs that I'm sowing. I'm not sure if I can manage any more seeds right now. However, my husband DID promise me a trip to Annie's Annuals this year. I know she has to have some pretty neat stuff the hummers will love. I have a 200 sq ft sunny bed that I need fill. We just ripped the sod out of it. Now he'll definitely need to hold up to that promise :).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 10:34PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

If you haven't grown Abutilons before, you should be aware that they can be magnets for scale and aphids, and that you will also probably see lots of ants colonizing the scale on your mature plants. Some cultivars are much less prone to these infestations that others, but for those that get infested, you can try regular monthly or biweekly sprayings with summer oil or neem insecticide to keep them under control. Scale can have several generations of babies all during the warmer months, so keep on the look out for them.

Check out the web site for Annie's Annuals to see her list for things attractive to hummingbirds. Also, you might be interested to visit during one of the open house parties with food, live steel drum music and plant give away contests. The parties are alot of fun.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 2:23PM
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Annie's does have some neat plants. I bought some poppies along with two varieties of Dudleya. Just to warn you, Annie's is not in the best part of Richmond, but you should be safe at a nursery.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 6:14PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

I have to agree with bahia, I've had to give up most of my abutilons because they suffer so badly from scale. I really try to be thrifty with water so I've finally given up on most of the varieties I had. I have a 'Nabob' that's hanging on stubbornly, though, and the dark red flowers look very nice intertwined through a 'Sister Mary Agnes' oleander standard.

Another shrub the hummers love is the cestrums. The newer varieties (red or pink flowering) bloom all year long. They too suffer from scale, but are a great deal less thirsty than abutilons.

'Thompsonii' liked a lot of sun. 'Savitzii' prefers some shade even where I live (Oakland hills, edge of the SF fog belt), so would probably be a full shade plant where you are.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2007 at 8:34PM
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eclpsprinc(Z9 CA)

Uuugghhh! I'm not looking forward to that! I've never had a problem with scale but it seems I always find a few aphids here and there. Last year was a bad year for those. I released a bunch of ladybugs and hatched out a few cases of mantids and they helped tremendously. However, as soon as it got too warm, the ladybugs left. Their larvae didn't stay long either. I can say though, that they did get the aphid population under control before they left.

Bahia... I'll try to schedule my trip during Annie's party. I'm looking forward to it!

Thank you again so much everyone. I've received more information here than I did searching the entire web :).

    Bookmark   February 23, 2007 at 9:21PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Also, Abutilons root so easily from cuttings, it may make more sense to get cuttings from cultivars that are doing well in your conditions. Abutilons really do vary tremendously in how they do and flower in different climates, and it makes all the difference to find ones that grow well with your situation, rather than constantly battle scale.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 1:15AM
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