Velvetleafs (Abutilon) – The Complete Guide

With tropical blooms beautiful, velvetleafs (Abutilon), also known as Indian mallows, conjure up a paradisiacal ambience on the summer balcony.

On the creative windowsill, the exotic beauty with its colorful campanulate flowers is a welcome guest. Behind its capricious appearance, you will find a low-maintenance and long-lasting tub plant.

Planting Velvetleafs

Since the non-hardy velvetleaf only sprays its tropical charm for one season when planted out in the bed, most hobby gardeners favor tub cultivation. Planting the velvetleaf correctly is quite simple:

  • Create a drainage system above the water runoff with shards of clay or pebbles.
  • Spread an air- and water-permeable fleece over it to protect it from silting up.
  • Fill in a first layer of pot plant soil and press a hollow into it with your fist.
  • Unpot the young plant, place it in the center of the trough and fill the cavities with substrate.

Place the plant no deeper than before and press the soil with a pricking stick or spoon to prevent air pockets from forming. A watering rim of 1 inch (3 cm) ensures that no watering water spills over later.

After watering, the velvetleaf should spend the first 1-2 weeks in partial shade to recover from the stress.

Care Tips

Velvetleafs are quite easy to care for. The care program of beauty velvetleaf comes with these few points:

  • Water the tropical semi-shrub evenly with soft rainwater.
  • Fertilize with liquid every 14 days from March to September.
  • Clean out wilted and withered areas promptly.
  • Prune back by one third or half in early spring.
  • Water less and do not fertilize.

If the velvetleaf spent the summer outdoors, it will need to move to winter quarters when temperatures drop. It should be bright and cool there, at an ideal 54-59 °F (12-15 °C).

Alternatively, you can continue the flower festival on a sunny windowsill at 64 to 72 °F (18 to 22 °C).

Which Location is Suitable for Velvetleafs?

The beauty velvetleaf feels right at home in a bright to off-sun location.

As long as it does not come under the influence of the blazing midday sun and is protected from strong winds and pelting rain, nothing will stand in the way of a long-lasting flowering spectacle.

On the summer balcony, this Brazilian beauty lingers only as long as the temperature is above 54-59 °F (12-15 °C).

What Soil Do Velvetleafs Need?

When choosing a substrate, reach for high-quality potted plant soil. This consists of a carefully balanced composition that remains structurally stable and has an excellent water storage capacity.

If you like to mix it yourself, add 3 parts lava granules and 1 part quartz sand to 5 parts compost and aim for a pH-value between 6,0 and 6,8.

When is Flowering Time for Velvetleafs?

As a houseplant, the wonderful beauty of velvetleaf delights us with a long-lasting flowering period from April to November.

On the balcony and terrace, the flowering period extends from June to October. consistently clean out withered flowers so that they do not prematurely abandon their strength in this feat.

In this way, the velvetleaf does not invest its energy in the growth of seed heads but busily produces more flowers.

Pruning Velvetleafs Properly

Cut out wilted flowers and yellowed leaves promptly and the velvetleaf will retain its lush appearance. To prevent the tropical half-shrub from falling into a sparse habit, shorten all shoots by a third or half at the end of winter dormancy.

The velvetleaf also tolerates pruning into the old wood. In the first two years, we recommend pruning the plant several times a year. This measure promotes lush branching and attracts even more flowers.

Watering Velvetleafs

When it comes to watering, the velvetleaf requires consistency. Keep the root ball slightly moist without waterlogging or drought stress.

The tropical flowering beauty reacts indignantly to both extremes by shedding flowers and leaves. Therefore, keep an eye on the pot saucer to pour out excess water after 10 minutes at the latest.

Fertilizing Velvetleaf Properly

The question of proper nutrient supply is quickly resolved for velvetleafs. Pamper the floral beauty with a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants every 14 days from March to September.

Between October and February, do not apply any fertilizer, because at this time the half-shrub is in a period of dormancy.


The velvetleaf is not hardy. In order for the exotic half-shrub to thrive perennially, winterization is important. Follow these steps to winterize your velvetleafs:

  • Put them away in the fall, when temperatures fall below 54-59 °F (12-15 °C).
  • The winter quarters should be bright and cool, with temperatures not below 50 °F (10 °C) and above 60 °F (16 °C).
  • Reduce watering and do not fertilize the plant.

If you want to continue to enjoy the beauty of its flowers, place the pot on the bright, warm windowsill at 64 to 72 °F (18 to 22 °C).

Propagating Velvetleafs

In order to grow more velvetleafs, propagation by means of cuttings is a good option. In early summer, cut off half-woody head shoots with a length of 3 to 5 inches (8 to 12 cm).

Defoliate a cutting in the lower half to prevent rot from forming later. Fill small pots with a mixture of peat and sand and put two-thirds of the cuttings in them.

After moistening the substrate, put a transparent cover over each pot. Keeping them constantly moist in a half-shaded, warm window place, the rooting will progress quickly.

How to Repot Velvetleafs Properly

When a velvetleaf has completely rooted its pot, repot the plant in March. In the new pot, spread some clay shards over the water drainage as drainage and fill in a layer of the fresh substrate.

Now pot up the velvetleaf to shake off the discarded soil. Take this opportunity to cut out dead roots and slightly shorten too-long strands.

Place the freshly potted plant in a semi-shaded area for 2 to 3 weeks to regenerate.

Is Velvetleaf Poisonous?

Sensitive hobby gardeners can react to direct contact with skin irritations because the velvetleaf is classified as slightly poisonous.

Since more concrete findings regarding toxicity are lacking so far, we recommend cultivating the exotic plant out of reach of children and pets. In addition, using gloves prevents health damage from skin contact.

Beautiful Velvetleaf Varieties

  • Victorian Lady: Single double flowering variety with ruffled petals in pale pink over extra large leaves.
  • Souvenir de Bonn: Gorgeous with nodding orange bell flowers and creamy yellow edged foliage.
  • Kentish Bell: The yellow flowers are adorned with a dark heart. Thanks to its hanging shoots it is the ideal variety for hanging baskets.
  • Thompsonii: The green-yellow variegated foliage emphasizes the bright orange flowers.
  • Blackberry: A rarity among the beautiful velvetleafs thanks to large bell-shaped flowers in dark purple.