Mimosa Pudica or Sensitive Plant can entertain you…for real.
It is so fascinating to watch it move when touched or brushed. Kids will just adore it. It is also called Touch-Me-Not, but who can help but touch it. But be careful because it does grow prickles along the stems. But it has beautiful blossoms.
This year, I found a package of seeds and decided to try growing it myself. It is a plant that is native to South and Central America but is pantropical which Wikipedia explains is”across the tropics” – distribution is one which covers tropical regions of all continents. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantropical
These seeds are not hard to find here in Ohio. I saw them in almost every garden center, as a matter of fact. But there is a similar tree growing more than 25 feet tall that is in the same family of Fabaceae. The name of that one is Albizia julibrissin which is a large tree with the same sweet blossoms and described as invasive in Florida.
I have a very scientific setup. I have used an empty cookie box or maybe it was donut holes. I am glad to empty the box for planting purposes, along with a mug of coffee. Such dedication to research is admirable, right?
I planted the seeds indoors and put them in a sunny window sill in the dining room. The clear box has a lid and I first kept it closed until the seeds germinated. After I had tiny sprouts, which only took a few days, I slightly propped the lid open with a little mushroom figurine sitting on the soil so that the lid wouldn’t close. Sun shines in that south-facing window in the afternoon. I felt this simulated a tropical area for the little seedlings.
I was shocked to discover that the “sensitivity” was immediately apparent with the first set of leaves. Not the cotelydon, the first set emerging from the seed, but the first leaf of the mimosa itself. Those tiny little leaves react immediately. They are so cute. Check out this 2+ minute film showing that reaction.
I am anxious to repot these. I guess I will have a little dilemma touching them when I transplant, but I will shortly put them in separate pots so that they can grow nicely into a small bushy plant about 1-2 foot tall. I will put in a bright and sunny location. It is not a hardy plant for my area, but I will enjoy it all year outside.
My grandson will love it. I think I will save one for him also. The others I will donate to our spring plant sale. ( Want to see more posts from my Backyard Flower Garden?)
Have you grown this plant before, or had it for your patio? Maybe it grows naturally where you live. Got any advice for me? I have read that the reason it “shrinks” is to be less attractive to animals and be eaten, but I think one mouthful of stickers would deter any animal, so maybe it is just shy.
Update: I had the mimosa for a short period of time, but after being outside all summer, they did not like being brought back inside and quickly dropped all leaves. I tried to nurse them back to health, but it just wasn’t meant to be and they died, one by one. They looked good for a time and were such an entertaining little plant. I had them in glass planters for a while. Check them out on this post. They looked so good for a while: Let’s Try Terrariums.
But just get some seeds and re-grow them. It is so entertaining to watch them as they grow. Your kids will love it and so will you.