Origin and Distribution
With the term “mimosa” the gardener usually means the mimosa pudica, which is the only one of the approximately 500 species of the mimosa family (Mimosoideae) that is cultivated as an indoor plant. The pretty plant is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of South America, but has invasively spread to other parts of the world as well. Mimosas are also often found in southern European countries. The genus belongs to the Leguminosae family (butterfly bloomers or legumes).
- The art of properly watering a mimosa
- The mimosa is poisonous in all parts of the plant
- An optimal location for your mimosa
Mimosas are famous for their peculiar reaction to touch, which is why sensitive people are still referred to as “mimosas”. The delicate pinnate leaves of the plant fold up within a few seconds at the slightest stimulus, and even the petiole sinks downwards. Occasionally the plant will go through a kind of chain reaction when several leaves and shoots react in this way. The leaves only unfold again after about half an hour.
Interestingly, mimosas only react to contact with a foreign object, a human finger or even heat in the manner described, but not to drafts, wind or movements of their own stems and leaves. Of course, children in particular enjoy playing with the “scary” plant in this way, for example touching it or even holding a burning match under the leaves and then observing the reaction. However, since this takes a lot of strength from the mimosa, you should not perform the touch test too often. After a while, every plant suffers massively from the strain, and some varieties do not react as quickly and only recover slowly.
The mimosa is not hardy and is therefore only used as a houseplant. The so-called gardener's mimosa or false mimosa, on the other hand, is the silver acacia (Acacia dealbata), which is a deciduous tree from Australia that is sensitive to frost. Both types belong to the legumes and are therefore related to each other.
Appearance and stature
Mimosa pudica, kept in indoor culture, is a small, woody subshrub, about 30 to 50 centimeters high. Typically, the herbaceous plant usually forms a bare, sometimes bristly trunk, which is more or less branched and occasionally has spines. The sparse growth early on and the difficult wintering ensure that the perennial plant is usually cultivated as an annual.
The main attraction of the mimosa is its long-stalked and double-feathered leaves, each with between ten and 26 leaflets. These, in turn, are sessile, oblong and pointed to rounded. Stipules about seven to eight millimeters long also grow on the plant. Typically, all leaves and leaflets are slightly bristly. The characteristic movements of the leaves, which the botanist calls nastia, are caused by various stimuli and these protect the plant. The mimosa reacts to vibrations and a change in the ambient temperature, but also to a change in light intensity. The leaf movements are usually no longer present at temperatures below 18 ° C and at night,especially since the mimosa goes into the so-called “sleeping position” in the dark.
Blossoms and flowering period
Between July and October, the mimosa continuously develops spherical and pink to lilac-colored flower heads that remind the viewer of dandelions. The pretty little flowers are always at the end of the branches and have faded after a maximum of two days. However, the plant is constantly developing new flowers.
After flowering, up to two centimeters long and five centimeters wide, flat and articulated legumes are formed. These are light green when ripe and also have a bristle and prickly surface to protect against predators. The fruits contain the flat, hard and brown seeds that are only three to four millimeters in size. Mimosa can only be propagated from these seeds.
The mimosa is not directly classified as a poisonous plant because it contains few toxins. Nevertheless, you should set up the houseplant in a location where curious children and pets have no unattended access to it. The slightly toxic ingredients do not cause any harm to health, but can still lead to malaise and nausea.
Which location is suitable?
The mimosa feels most comfortable in a bright spot without direct sunlight. Temperatures between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius are also ideal. During the summer months, you can also put the plant outdoors in a sheltered location, but not in full sun. Whether inside or outside: The place must be free of drafts, the temperatures must be constant and little affected by through traffic, for example because someone is constantly walking by. Such a location prevents the constant folding of the leaves from the outset and thus conserves the plant's energy reserves. However, the mimosa is not suitable for cultivation in a shady spot.
Since mimosas are usually only cultivated once a year, a so-called unit soil is usually sufficient. Nevertheless, pay attention to quality: compost-based potting soil or plant soil is not only healthier for the environment than a cheap, peat-based substrate (after all, said peat does not have to be broken down by destroying valuable habitats), it also ensures a better water balance Pot. Peat hardens quickly and is then no longer able to absorb water. Compost, on the other hand, is both a good water reservoir and permeable enough to allow excess irrigation water to flow through.
From March you can prefer the pretty mimosa yourself. The seeds required for this are either available from retailers or you can obtain them from your own harvest from the previous year. However, in order for some of the mimosa flowers to produce fruit, the plant must be put outside during the summer months. This is the only place where insects looking for food can carry out the necessary pollination. Then do not snap off the withered shoots, but leave them there. Until autumn the small legumes are formed here, which you finally pick off. Take out the seeds inside and keep them dry, cool and tightly sealed over the winter.
If the hard-shelled seeds are finally to be sown, first let them soak in a warm place for at least twelve hours. In the meantime, fill a shallow growing tray or small pots with a nutrient-poor growing substrate (9.05 € at Amazon *) or coconut, whereby you have previously made the substrates sterile in the microwave or in the oven. This is important, otherwise the sensitive seeds will go moldy. Bring out the seeds and do not cover them with soil, because mimosas are light germs. Keep the substrate slightly moist and cover the growing containers with a translucent cover, such as a cling film or a PET bottle from which you have cut off the upper part with the bottle neck.
The pots should be warm at temperatures between 20 and 25 ° C and light, avoiding direct sunlight. Ventilate daily to prevent mold from forming under the cover. As soon as the seedlings have developed three to four pairs of leaves, transplant them into individual pots. It is particularly important to start fertilizing early on when cultivating in Kokohum.
Plant and repot
You do not have to repot only annual cultivated mimosas, unless you put the young seedlings in a flower pot with real potting soil for the first time. You should also move newly purchased plants straight away, as the pots are often too small and / or the substrate is damp or already depleted. Otherwise, only perennial specimens need fresh soil from time to time and a new planter. Ideally, you should repot in spring.
It is high time for repotting when the roots of the mimosa grow out of the pot and / or the root ball completely fills the planter. The roots of the plant need space to grow, but you shouldn't over-size the pot either. In a smaller pot, the plant looks more decorative and often flowers more profusely. Much more important is the large drainage hole on the bottom of the pot, through which excess water can drain off. This prevents waterlogging from the outset.
How to plant the mimosa:
- Carefully lift the plant out of the old planter.
- Gently shake off the clinging soil.
- Check the roots.
- Cut away rotten and sick-looking roots.
- Fill a fresh pot with a drainage layer and some substrate.
- Expanded clay (€ 17.50 at Amazon *) or some pottery shards are suitable for drainage.
- Put the mimosa in the pot and fill in the soil all around.
- Gently press the substrate into place.
- Pour the mimosa.
If you have used pre-fertilized unit soil, you do not need to fertilize the mimosa for the first four to six weeks. However, place the plant in a warm and bright location out of direct sunlight.
Don't be surprised if the mimosa should look a little torn after repotting. This process always means stress for the plant, which is why it then looks a bit worn out. However, with good care and plenty of rest, it usually recovers quickly.
There are exactly two things that mimosas don't like at all when it comes to watering: moisture and dryness. The sensitive plants cannot tolerate waterlogging or dry root balls, which is why you should always keep the substrate evenly moist with a lot of tact. Always do the finger test before watering again and do not water the mimosa until the surface of the substrate has already dried. Any excess water that has run into the saucer or planter must be removed immediately to avoid waterlogging.
The mimosa is not very lime-tolerant and should therefore be poured with soft water - preferably rainwater, alternatively well-stale tap water. However, the correct humidity is even more important: The tropical plants need a high level of humidity, which is best achieved by setting up water bowls. Incidentally, a low level of humidity in the ambient air is fatal for plants, especially in winter, especially since spider mite infestation threatens when it is dry.
Fertilize mimosa properly
After repotting in spring, you do not need to fertilize the mimosa straight away. Only older plants are happy about the occasional fertilizer application, whereby they only have a low nutritional requirement and therefore do not need to be fertilized very much. It is sufficient to provide the plants with a liquid green plant fertilizer about once a month, which you administer together with the irrigation water and only mix with half the dose recommended by the manufacturer.
Cut mimosa correctly
Since mimosas do not tolerate pruning well, you should avoid pruning the plant. Often she reacts offended and does not drive out afterwards. Incidentally, this is also one of the reasons why mimosas are usually only kept as an annual: Older plants in particular grow rather sparsely, which does not always look attractive. At the same time, they cannot be shaped with the help of scissors.
It is better to re-sow the mimosa every year. By the way, sowing is also the only way to multiply this interesting houseplant. In principle, propagation by cuttings is possible, but has various problems: On the one hand, the mother plant does not tolerate pruning and will then die with a little bad luck. Second, the cut shoots root very poorly and then have to survive the winter. If you still want to give it a try, the following tips will give you the best cards:
- Only prune the cuttings before flowering in spring or early summer.
- One flower or only flower buds may still be visible.
- After the onset of flowering, the rooting rate drops again drastically.
- This also applies if you remove flowers and buds from the cuttings.
- Pluck the bottom leaves off.
- Put the shoot in a water glass.
- Position this in a warm and bright place.
- This should be calm and free of drafts.
Plant the cutting as soon as the first roots appear. If you wait too long, the plant will die off quickly - it will usually be too moist for it. To improve the development of the roots, you can soak them in a rooting substrate before planting.
Since mimosas no longer look too beautiful with age and caring for them in winter is also quite tricky, you should refrain from overwintering. It is better to grow new plants from the seeds in the spring. If you still want to try it, you should place the plants in a light, but relatively cool place at around 18 to 20 ° C - the window sill in the living room with the heater underneath is therefore an unsuitable location, especially since the heating air also draws off the necessary high humidity. Water the plant little during the winter months, but keep the humidity high. You stop fertilizing completely until next spring.
Incidentally, in winter the plants often shed their leaves because it is simply too dark for them. You can counteract this phenomenon with lamps or special plant lighting.
Diseases and pests
Even if most people instinctively suspect otherwise, mimosas are amazingly resistant to diseases and possible pest infestation. They rarely get sick or are plagued by pests. However, if the plant does not really want to thrive or does not develop flowers, care errors or an unsuitable location are usually the cause. Most often, shoot and root rot occur as a result of excessive watering. This disease is shown by yellow leaves. Overwatered plants usually die, but sometimes you can save them by quickly repotting them in dry substrate.
If the ambient air is too dry, spider mites (also: red spider) often attack the mimosa. You can recognize the infestation by the fine webs that are often only visible when sprayed with water mist. Here, too, the tiny spider mite, which is barely visible to the naked eye, is initially indicated by the leaves turning yellow. Carefully shower infested plants and increase the humidity, then the pests will often disappear on their own. In the case of stubborn infestation, commercially available agents that you simply stick into the substrate help.
Mimosa is losing its leaves, what to do?
When mimosas shed their leaves, there are various causes behind it. It may be too dark or too light, too warm or too cold or simply too drafty for your plant in its location. In addition, incorrect watering can lead to leaf loss, as the plant is permanently too moist or too dry. All of these causes are out of the question: Even touching the leaves too often will eventually lead to their being thrown off because the mimosa cannot compensate for this feat in the long run. In general, the leaves of the houseplant are very sensitive: the mimosa cannot tolerate poor air quality either. For example, it goes into the rooms of smokers quickly. Create suitable site conditions for the mimosa, water it according to the instructions described above,Do not touch it so often and do not smoke in its presence - then nothing should stand in the way of a healthy, beautifully leafy and blooming plant.
Even if mimosas sometimes look like small bonsai due to their sometimes peculiar growth, they are not suitable for a bonsai culture. They cannot be forced into a desired growth shape and are also difficult to overwinter.
Species and varieties
Of the around 500 different species of the mimosa family, only the species Mimosa pudica is cultivated as a houseplant. However, adult plants are seldom available in stores, which is due to the sensitivity of the “scrambler” - the smallest vibrations and differences in temperature and light cause the leaves to collapse and weaken the plant. As a rule, you have to grow Mimosa pudica yourself from seeds that you can obtain from specialist gardeners. There is no distinction between different types.