Let’s meet mimosa
Mimosa (Mimosa) are beans (Fabaceae) a plant belonging to the family, whose life form is diverse: grass, tree or shrub. These plants are usually armed with thorns, and the finger-like, pinnate, ornate and symmetrical leaves are sensitive to the touch. The flowers form small, spherical, “fluffy” heads, which are usually 4-5 on the tops of the stems. And their color is different – white, pink, purple, yellow. Their fruit is a pod, like other members of the bean family.
The natural homeland of mimosa is the warm regions of Central and South America, as well as East Africa, part of India. Today, about 600 species of mimosa are known. In Lithuania, the only type of mimosa grown indoors is sensitive mimosa.
Sensitive mimosa (Mimosa pudica) – this plant has a long creeping stem that can reach up to 1.5–1.7 m in natural habitat, but rarely exceeds 30–45 cm in height. The feathery leaves divided into many fingers are sensitive to touch, so the plant compresses them. The flowers are purple, yellow, pink and look like little fluffy balls. This is the only indoor mimosa species grown in Lithuania.
Yellow Acacia – Mimosa Tree The Mimosa tree or yellow acacia (Acacia dealbata) is actually not a true mimosa, as this fast-growing evergreen tree belongs to another genus in the same family. The tree, which grows up to 12 m, is called mimosa because of similar characteristics: feathery and finger-shaped dark green leaves, bright yellow flowers resembling fluffy balls. Unfortunately, the mimosa tree does not grow in Lithuania, but occasionally you can admire branches brought from abroad.
Mimosa is sensitive to movement Mimosa is unique and fascinating because of its unique ability to deftly fold its leaves when someone touches them. The plant also closes its leaves at night. It is likely that she does this in order to protect herself from “predators” – herbivores, insects. You shouldn’t play with mimosa leaves, because every crunch and contraction takes a lot of energy from the plant. Among other things, the ability of the plant to carry out photosynthesis further decreases. In the long run, the mimosa may no longer respond to any movement or darkness, so the plant needs to be helped to keep this feature intact.
Cultivation of mimosas
Location and lighting. The plant needs a warm location with full sunlight, so an east or west facing windowsill is ideal. The flower grows well when it receives eight hours of daylight, it can partially tolerate partial lighting, but it feels very poorly in a dark place. A good indicator is the mimosa leaves, because if they are folded, it means that there is not enough light for the plant.
The soil. The soil for growing mimosa should be moist, but well drained and never waterlogged. A loose soil with a pH of 6.5-7.5 is also important for plant growth. Use standard commercial potting mix.
Temperature and humidity. Mimosas grow best at a temperature of 18-25 degrees, but do not tolerate lower and higher temperatures. Since the plant needs medium to high ambient humidity, it is better to grow it in a naturally humid room, such as a kitchen or bathroom. Usually, during the summer, the humidity prevailing in the rooms is enough for the flower. However, when the air dries up during the heating season, it is necessary to moisten it additionally. Air humidity can be maintained around the plant by placing it on a tray with wet pebbles or by turning on an air humidifier nearby.
Mimosa planting and transplanting
Although sensitive mimosa is a perennial plant, it loses its splendor in the second year, which is why it is commonly grown as an annual flower. Every time you want to grow mimosa, you can easily grow it from seeds. Seeds soaked overnight are sown in spring in small pots of moist compost and lightly covered with earth. The containers are covered with a transparent plastic bag and placed on a sunny windowsill. Seedlings should appear in 21-30 days. As the plants grow, they are transplanted into larger pots.
Succulent mimosa is considered an annual plant and does not usually require repotting. However, due to its rapid growth, it may need to be repotted as soon as it outgrows the pot. It is time to repot this plant when you see roots sticking out of the drainage holes, so you may need to do this several times in one year. When transplanting, you should try not to disturb or damage the roots, and carefully transfer the entire moistened clump to a new, larger pot. It is natural that the leaves of the flower fall after transplanting, so you need to give it some time to recover.
What care does mimosa require?
Watering. In the spring and summer, the compost should be constantly moist, but not soggy. Usually, the sensitive plant is watered when the topsoil starts to dry out. Mimosa is watered sparingly in winter.
Fertilization. Mimosa can grow in quite poor soil, so it is possible not to fertilize them at all. However, it is possible to give the plant additional energy during the growing season, in spring and summer. Then, every few weeks or even every couple of months, the flowers are fertilized with a high-potassium liquid fertilizer diluted to half.
Pruning The plant needs to be trimmed regularly to keep it looking lush and “full” and this can be done at any time of the year. Mimosa tends to form elongated stems, so shortening them will give more of an appearance.
Supports. Most mimosas do not need supports, as long as you don’t forget to prune them regularly. Since the plant has creeping, creeping stems, they can be allowed to climb the trellis to give the plant a tidy appearance.
How mimosa is propagated
Mimosa is very easily propagated by seeds, but to diversify its cultivation, it is possible to grow the plant from stem cuttings. First, the top of the stem, 10-15 cm long, containing at least one open leaf node, is cut off. The seedling is planted in a small pot filled with a mixture of peat moss and perlite. The pot is placed in a warm, bright place and covered with transparent plastic. In 1-4 weeks, the plant will take root and can be transplanted into a larger pot.
Mimosa pests and diseases
Mimosa is attacked by common houseplant pests. For example, red spider mites spread when mimosa is grown in an overly dry environment. Other known enemies are mealybugs and thrips.
The same can be said about the sudden diseases caused by fungi. One of these is root rot, when roots that are soaked due to improper drainage conditions begin to rot.
Why mimosa turns yellow and dies Even though the plant is grown as an annual, there is no need to ignore the problems that plague the plant. If the mimosa leaves do not react or react slowly when you touch it, then you are touching the plant too much. It will need to be left alone for a few weeks before it becomes sensitive again. Another sign is yellow leaves, which means that the plant is too cold.
If the plant becomes wilted and unattractive after flowering, it is advisable to save the seeds, discard the plant and reseed it.
What are the benefits of mimosa?
In Lithuania, you won’t be able to do anything with indoor mimosa, so you should look for benefits from other species of mimosa. Although mimosas are used as ornamental plants, most of them are suitable for use as hedges, fodder, green manure, firewood and medicine.
As for the cosmetics industry, in Lithuania you can buy cosmetic preparations with mimosa. It has a cell-renewing, strong antimicrobial effect, so it is sometimes used as a component of creams or gels.
How can mimosa be harmful?
Invasive. Some warm countries are struggling to cope with the rapid spread of mimosas. Big mimosa, M. pigra and others are especially problematic. Mimosas are often referred to as annoying weeds.
Poisonous. Most mimosas are poisonous to a greater or lesser degree, containing the alkaloid mimosine. Mimosa, which is common to us, is not very toxic, but it should still not be eaten, as symptoms of poisoning will appear.
Psychotropic substances. The same drunk mimosa contains substances that cause hallucinations when consumed. In ancient times, it was used in potions as part of shamanic rituals.