The Abutilon group contains around 150 varieties of small trees or shrubs which are not always totally hardy. Some varieties have variegated foliage which are Maple-like foliage, which has led to their common name of 'Flowering Maples'. Personally I believe the only resemblance is to the Acer Grisium, but thats me.
Abutilon plants or flowering maples are one of a few types of shrubs that can be pruned at any time during their active growing season. Abutilon's are quick to start to re-grow and subsequently flower.
The versatility of the Abutilon means you can simply prune it as and when required. In particularly prune after the winter damage where branches can be snapped or broken by high winds and / or heavy snow. This is best done in early spring when most types can be cut back quite hard. This will encourage strong growth in the spring which will soon regain its original height.
If a hard prune is required, the best time to preform this is early spring.
The Nature of the Abutilon is that it spreads, it can be double its width to its height, therefore it will need pruning regulary.
It would be easy to say, just take the hedge trimmers to it and you will be fine. Sorry to say, it needs a little more finess than that. If it is not pruned correctly, it can cause die back and the flowers wont flourish the next season. The best tools for the job are the trusted secateurs.
Its lateral soft wood branches can be lengthy and can be pruned back almost to the main stem. Trace it back to the main stem, approximately 6 inches away from the stem you will find the first leaf / node, make a cut just after the leaf / node or after any leaf along the line, depending upon how much you want to trim it down. In the growing season avoid big pruning sessions, only trim it back 25% to 30%, you do not want to weaken the plant before winter. If you just cut it back willy nilly, you may find you have cut too much off and there may not be a live node left on the branches. This will not encourage new growth as there is nothing there, this will probably cause die back.
This is a very happy plant if you keep it happy.
If grown as a patio pot plant, and taken into protective care for the winter, the Abutilon can be pruned to shape either as a shrub or a single stem 'feathered' specimen.
For a single stem mini-tree, either prune off the laterals - AFTER regrowth has started in spring, or prune back all laterals to within 6in of the main central stem or trunk. This will encourage growths which can then be attractively trimmed into a narrow pyramid - especially effective for the variegated foliage types.
The same single-stem treatment can be applied when Abutilons are grown as houseplant or conservatory speciments.
Wall grown Abutilons such as Abutilon megapotamicum should be pruned in early spring. This is best done by pruning wayward branches back to a main framework.
Larger shrub type Abutilons such as the semi evergreen Abutilon suntense should be pruned in the main to tidy the winter damaged branches which are apt to break under the weight of snow - or in heavy winds (Not the best situation for growing them)
Cornus alba, stolonifera and sanguinea