The Chinese lanterns are lovely plants, they have a main flush of flowers in spring, but this flowering can continue until the end of autumn.
Nine months flowering each year makes this a fairly special plant to have in the garden.
Even when not in flower the plants look quite nice.
There are a few different species of the Chinese lantern, yet they all have similar flowers.
The flowers are like little lanterns hanging in the plant and if you look closely at the flowers you can see a similarity to hibiscus – they are related.
Chinese lanterns are fast growing and usually reach about two metres in height – though they can get taller.
The commonly known examples are Abutilon X hybridum and these come in a range of colours - white, yellow, orange, pink and red. These plants grow well in most areas and will tolerate some frost.
In really cold climates they might be better grown in pots so you can move them to a protected position.
They grow well in an open and sunny location, not overly fussy about soil type but prefer well-drained soils.
Water regularly during the hot months but don’t add extra water during the cool months, they don’t like wet feet.
Fertilise in spring and in autumn, more often if you think they need it.
Pruning is important with the Abutilon.
Young plants need to be tip pruned a few times as they grow to ensure the plant becomes thick and bushy – this also helps increase flower numbers.
When the plant is established you need to cut it back each year by at least one-third.
Do this heavy prune towards the end of winter or in the early spring. At any time if the plant starts to look spindly then it needs another prune.
If you don’t want tall specimens it might pay to look in the nurseries for dwarf forms.
Dwarf Chinese lanterns only reach approximately one metre.
Propagation is fairly easy. You can take cuttings during the spring or even in summer. Place your cuttings in a firm but well-drained media, water regularly and the cuttings should produce roots within a few weeks.
Chinese lanterns grow well in our region, in the garden or in pots, they are a garden highlight worth growing.
Chainsaw training available.Two units (FWPCOT2239 Trim and cut felled trees and FWPCOT2237 Maintain chainsaws) - covering cutting and how to maintain and prepare your equipment. Two session courses – May 25 and 26 or the June course on the 23rd and 24th. 8.30am to 4.30pm. Cost is $360.