Sensitive Plant (mimosa)

flash14756(z6 Boise, Idaho USA)December 8, 2005

Who has one of these? Mine started looking really leggy (one had only a single leaf) so I pinched out the tip and the latteral buds are swelling but how to I keep it from loosing leaves and looking full. Plus, I think that it has only ever had three flowers. What an I doing wrong?

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Hello Flash,

I have had mimosa pudica several times in the last several years. Mine have always gotten leggy and have lost its lower leaves. Maybe if you (and I) were in a climate that was more humid the plant may retain more leaves. I just don't know. You are very fortunate that it bloom at all. Most people never get blooms so you are ahead of the game. Pinching the tip off will encourage some side branching. I have always severely pruned the plant to three or 4 in. above the soil line to grow a new plant.

I have noticed that the plant does not do well with a second pruning. They just tend to run out of steam. That is when it is time to plant new seeds.

It really sounds like you are doing everything right.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2005 at 7:07PM
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Wishful thinking Larry. If you were in a more humid and warmer climate they become weeds of the first magnitude. Grown outside around here in the summer, they really are different with many blooms and a plethora of seeds. In a pot, they are so-so. In both cases, they are low, almost creeping plants with wicked thorns that can be bothersome. In places like Puerto Rico, they carpet the ground, meaning that barefootedness is at a cost.

My best results have been when grown in rich soil and watered well, in mostly full sun. These plants will get leggy no matter what is done. My suggestion would be to save some seed and start new plants each year. Given good sun and plenty of water, their small puffy pink flowers will grace the thorn laden stems all summer.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2005 at 7:19PM
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Mimosa's are mainly grown as annuals, but can be kept in colder regions inside a home.
I think pinching throughout the yr is the secret. I'd stop in spring/summer so flowers will grow.
Of what I read in the past, if a Mim is grown indoors, it should be kept cool, and in the brightest light..south or west window. If given a somewhat sunny window, this plant should be fertized, every other wk w/an all purpose food, 1/4 strenght in winter. Once the days get longer, fertilizer can be made stronger...Summers it does best outside (as long as squirrels don't eat it, which is how mine died) and kept out until late Sept/Oct. Toni

    Bookmark   December 8, 2005 at 7:21PM
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Hi Pete,

I wouldn't be too worried about a little more humidity for my mimosa pudica since it is always in a flowerpot. Not much probability of it taking over the house.

The invasive properties of mimosa pudica reminds me of the experience of mine several years ago. At work I was fortunate to have a corner office that I shared with two other people. We had the most wonderful plants in this office. For instance I had a Swedish ivy that a hung from a 9 ft. ceiling all the way down and touching the floor. It was so big around that I could barely put my arms around it. It was basically a pillar of Swedish ivy. It was wonderful! All my other plants were similar success storys.

Anyway, I digress. Back then I had a mimosa pudica on my desk. One day one of the secretaries, who was from the Philippines, peeked in our door. She looked at the sensitive plant and said quite forcefully, "What do you have that thing for?" I was a little stunned and then proceeded to explain the characteristics of the plant and how when one touched it than it would fold up. She said that she was quite aware of what the plant was. She said that it was basically a noxious weed where she lived growing up. She then told me how the plants were growing along the side of the road where she would go to school. And that she and her schoolmates would kick them as they walked to school. That said, she couldn't figure out why I would possibly want to have a weed growing on my desk. Her reaction to me having a sensitive plant on my desk would be comparable to my reaction of someone else having a dandelion or thistle on his or her desk. Once again everything is relative.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2005 at 4:06PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

A passing point of interest:

At our last bonsai club meeting, all the members were asked to bring a tree that they wanted to discuss or for which advice was needed. A good friend brought a Mimosa, species unknown, he had started from a cutting 13 years previous. The tree, with about a 2 inch trunk, was about 12 - 15 inches in diameter and roughly the same in height (from the top of the pot) and in superb condition. Though he hadn't done any serious work on the tree, it was obvious its future was as an attractive bonsai.

I related this anecdote so I could say that if those growing woody material indoors would utilize appropriate soils & learn some basic root-pruning/re-potting techniques, it wouldn't be difficult to keep indoor trees thriving indefinitely, instead of having to discard them regularly. Please don't read this as a critique of anyone's methods, but as an offer of help to any that wish to know more about what I'm talking about.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2005 at 6:40PM
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Tapla - are you sure it was the same plant - Mimosa pudica is not the same as the Acacias used for bonsai....

    Bookmark   December 9, 2005 at 7:02PM
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flash14756(z6 Boise, Idaho USA)

That's what I was thinking, but I didn't want to hurt his feelings :)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2005 at 7:05PM
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Yes, I think Al is talking about another Mimosa. Mimosa pudica is not a tree. I have put a link below that has some information about mimosa pudica.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mimosa pudica

    Bookmark   December 9, 2005 at 8:37PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lucy, flash, Larry - I think I'm on firm footing and that you likely missed the point.

There are many plants that are considered vines, or even ground covers that lend themselves to styling as bonsai specimens. It's not necessary that they are trees or shrubs. I have Hederas, Celastrus (bittersweet), Ficus carica, Arctostaphylos (bearberry), Luma apiculata (Peruvian myrtle), and others. Even plants normally considered herbaceous (Impatiens, Coleus) make interesting and believable subjects. M. pudica is often used as bonsai material, though not so often as some of the other legumes in the Mimosaceae family. I was aware that the species of plant I observed recently was different than the pudica.

The point I was attempting to make is not species related. I used the example of a Mimosa because the genus was the same as mentioned upthread and to try to show that trees tolerant of indoor conditions (and often grown as houseplants) need not be treated as annuals or discarded on a regular basis if the grower has some knowledge of soils and root-pruning/repotting techniques.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2005 at 9:51PM
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Hi Al. I don't think the original poster was thinking of bonsai-ing M. pudica. I have seen them growing in the wild, and they make pathetic plants after a few years. Woody, mis-shapen gangly plants with a full complement of thorns and a propensity to crawl, only using them as a bonsai specimen could attach any glamor to a 3 year old M. pudica. So far as calling them trees, that is stretching it a bit. Trees are generally thought of as being plants somewhat over 12ft/3.5m that are long lived. Mimosa pudica is not even within arguing distance of these criteria. So saying they are "trees tolerant of indoor conditions" is stretching it a lot.

BTW, how long can they live as bonsai? Until you chimed in, I had not even the remotest thought that they could be bonsaied. Will you people stop at nothing?:) Are there any examples of bonsai ragweed or something like that? I'm off to look at other examples of plants that are being kept in small pots for many years.

Good link, Larry. Who knew there are red flowered ones.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2005 at 10:59AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Scheesch - will no one look past the material to get to the point? I give up after explaining it a couple of times.

PP - Unless you have seen certain material used in bonsai compositions, it's difficult to get your imagination around what it might look like. You often need to let go of what you "think it should/would look like".

I'm unsure if your reply was written with TIC, so I'll avoid lengthy comment, but I can assure you that plant material under the care of an accomplished bonsai practitioner is likely to live many times as long as the same material growing in situ.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2005 at 2:37PM
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flash14756(z6 Boise, Idaho USA)

Hey Al, can you explain some root-pruning tecniques, I dont realy get how to do I it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 12:44PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Root pruning and repotting of tropical and subtropical woody plants is best undertaken immediately before the most vigorous growth period - usually just before the hottest days of summer - probably mid - late June in your zone.

In most cases, you can saw/prune off the bottom half of the rootball. Then, with chopsticks and a spray nozzle from the hose (I use a 1 gallon per minute mist nozzle by Fogg-it), remove all the soil from roots. When old soil is removed, prune out 1/3 - 1/2 of the remaining largest roots (especially those immediately under the trunk). These roots have no function in container culture & serve only to take up valuable space that could be occupied by the important, fine, feeder rootage. Work out of sun and wind & never allow the finer rootage to dry out. Having now reduced the rootage by about 2/3, you should be able to return the plant to a smaller or the same container. Repot with a fast draining soil that's slightly moist, being sure to work soil into all the air pockets in the roots with a chopstick.

This procedure, far superior to simply "potting-up" will temporarily set a plant back, but the added boost the plant receives from the procedure soon after repotting allows the plant to quickly pass other plants, that might not have been treated so, in development and o/a vitality.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 9:19PM
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faerieannette(z7 MD)

Once I visited my local bonsai guru. He had the cutest little pot with a dandelion growing in it. I looked so pretty. lol It reminded me of what Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his book "peace is in every step" at one of his workshops (teaching conscious breathing and self awareness) a student said that he had lost his smile but it was okay because the dandelion had it.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 1:13PM
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I haven't figured out how to post my own message yet so I am in responce to this one as it is closest in relation to my topic. Actually it's how I found this sight. Anyhow, I was in charge of the Mimosa production when I was in college. I was a little inexperienced with it and noticed no one was treating them differently and they were watering them as they watered the rest of the plants all around them and they eventually would be more suseptable to Aphids and fungus gnats.

I fell in love with the Mimosa durring that time of my life and I actually got one to grow through a Zone 4 winter. It lost all of it's leaves and was just a green hairy stick all winter but in the spring it gew back leaves. It flowered both years, many flowerd. That Fall it was destroyed by my aunts dog.

Last year I tried growing one again, this time in zone 3. it was beautiful all summer and then over the winter it went to the stick phase and was green all winter long. Right before spring came around I made the mistake of pruning it down and it dies a few weeks later. I am trying it again this year, will also save seeds as I have learned that in it's natural habitat it reproduces this way as an annual.

If any one has had success stories on over wintering their mimosa indoors in a low zone area let me know your experiences. This is all experiments to me and throughout my experimentations with plants I have learned that no matter what someone else says "should" or "shouldn't" be possible with a plant can surprize you sometimes of you try it out.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 8:25PM
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    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 11:24AM
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There is a mimosa pudica bonsai. It's always frustrating when folks who know virtually nothing about bonsai piffle at someone (who does) for wondering if one could bonsai something that's not a tree. Vines and many weeds make spectacular bonsai when they are trained as such, causing them to take on a very tree-like appearance they'd not normally assume in nature. The link provides a very nice example of a touch me not bonsai. Not to mention the person saying "mimosa are not the acacia used in bonsai" was wrong on two counts. Not only can you bonsai non-trees including mimosa pudica, but mimosa species that are trees by nature (not just acacia)are also very commonly used for award-winning bonsai. Lucy obviously assumed bonsai-Tapla was blundering along looking at the similar leaves, mistakenly thinking acacia and mimosa were the same thing, whereas it was she who had not done her own homework, along with droves of expounding others thinking a species MUST be a tree to appear tree-like, as do exhibits of countless bonsai and penjing masters of world-micro-fame whose media are so often myriad vines, CREEPERS (like M. pudica, and other so-called "weeds".

Here is a link that might be useful: mimosa pudica bonsai

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 10:43PM
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